By: Kurt Snyder
Have we been completely fair with Brad Ausmus?
As someone who never managed at any level of baseball, doesn’t he have the right to feel his way through a season, to determine what style of play his team will have?
If he starts down one path and then changes direction, don’t we owe him the benefit of the doubt? Don’t we owe him the freedom to try different things? After all, the team was asking him to do something that he had never done before; manage a team, any team.
But sadly, the team was not only asking him to learn how to manage, they were asking him to win a championship. How dare they? How incredibly unfair.
Not with this team, in this town, not now. A team with a “win now” approach and managerial inexperience don’t mix.
At the time, bringing him in seemed like a good idea. After all, according to DD, Brad “blew him away” during the interview process.
So it was easy to expect that we had unearthed a young wizard with fresh ideas, a more broad imagination, someone who would get the most out of the talent on the roster. Why else would you take a flier on someone so green?
After a fast start last season, Brad became tentative and unimaginative. He was a rookie when he started and a rookie when it was over. He never evolved. It was disturbing to watch as Ausmus was brutally out managed by Buck Showalter in the playoffs against Baltimore.
This season, even with some significant turnover, the Tigers have a pretty intriguing mix of talent. The pitching is still solid, the bullpen has a chance to be pretty good, speed and defense will win games that they couldn’t win last year. It is all there again for a manager to succeed. But we cringe at the notion that nothing will change.
It begs a question about how we got here. Given Jim Leyland’s close friendship with Tony LaRussa, did the Tigers just blatantly copy the managerial path of the St. Louis Cardinals?
Because frankly, I think the Cardinals took a serious risk as well, and they are darn lucky that it has worked out as well as it has. The formula just doesn’t make sense.
Who hires someone with no managerial experience and expects them to take a team over the top and win it all? Heck, how long did it take Brad to just figure out how to be a manager, period?
Here’s an exercise for you. Write down a list of teams that you feel have a legitimate shot at a title, but only teams you would list the manager as their weakness? I’m still waiting.
Last season, Ned Yost wasn’t exactly getting carried off the field all season long in Kansas City. But it was hard for him to do wrong with that lock down bullpen. And once they started getting clutch hitting from guys who hadn’t done it all year, before you know it, you’re one game from a World Championship. Things kind of came together.
Even with that, I don’t think the Royals get there without Yost. In the end, he knew his team. And Ausmus, in the end, he was still trying to figure it out.
Can you win a title in spite of your manager? I think the answer is clearly no. So, Brad Ausmus needs to figure out this manager gig pretty darn fast.