By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
One thing we have built as a team of writers, unintentionally of course, is an under appreciation for Brad Ausmus. But Brad must have some redeeming qualities, or else why would Dave Dombrowski have hired him?
So we have decided to “attack” Brad from a more positive approach. Yeah, you read that right. So here is the question posed to both of our writers regarding our sophomore manager.
With all the criticism Brad receives, what do you think he does well for the Tigers?
When I started my usual research, what was interesting was the inability to find quotes from anyone within the Tiger organization, or even in the media, that allude to Brad’s strengths. Other than Dave’s “He blew me away in the interview”, we got nadda. Living here in Washington, DC, the lack of information on him reminds me of some of my clients in the intelligence field. So we really only have snippets and observations from which to work.
So, first, the general. I think Brad is a really nice guy – someone you may want to invite for a beer, but not for sparkling dinnertime conversation. Several players have said he’s approachable and user-friendly.
He’s definitely an even-keeled individual. Rarely gets mad, smiles when he’s excited – but maintains an even emotional state, at least on the outside. I think that is a benefit for rookies and for the team overall when they are in the pits of despair performance-wise. Not so good for inspiring the team to win, though.
Obviously, the man is intelligent and in many ways, he is the antithesis of Sparky. He likes reports and stats and is constantly working the odds – probably a little too much. I would bet money that he can recite whole passages from books on theory and strategies from memory.
But I believe his greatest contribution was helping Dave re-envision the team and define which players the team needed. I looked at the timeline of Brad’s hiring followed weeks later (and repeated again this year) by player acquisitions who did not fit the typical Tiger mold. Kudos to him for bringing in speed and defense, two things that had the Tigers perennially at the bottom of MLB rankings.
But all of this evidence points to the fact that Brad’s strengths are with stats and analysis, not with inspiring the best performances out of people. I think he would serve any team well in the Front Office as the head of Player Development or Scouting. I could see him developing a comprehensive analytical program that would identify which players the Tigers should acquire – and unlike Jeff Luhnow, he’d make sure to update his online password.
Let’s face it, Brad is a good-looking guy! I am not afraid to admit it. He’s the second best looking guy I have ever seen (the mirror counts right?).
So with all the good looks, the fine “blow us away” interviewing skills and the big Dartmouth brain, it’s a puzzle why he didn’t get an opportunity to manage at some level before now.
Brad has a nice smile; a quiet, almost enduring demeanor and seemingly a calming influence in the dugout, regardless of the situation.
He hired what I thought was a very good coaching staff. He retained guys from Leyland’s staff that the team needed for some normalcy and frankly to help him transition. As much as people criticize Gene Lamont’s presence and perceived influence on Brad, I think he has provided supportive influence for a guy who had never managed before and help from someone familiar with the current personnel.
Last season, Brad brought a different brand of baseball to a roster that maybe wasn’t quite ready for it. So this season, we added some pieces more in tune with Brad’s style of play. It’s just a shame that the recent losing streak extinguished any momentum we had gathered early.
And as you know, we have a concern that Brad’s low key approach lacks inspiration. But it’s a only a perception. The listless body language in the dugout by the players would seem to be a byproduct of their manager who shows very little emotion during games.
Brad has stated that he feels it’s important to possess a consistent and positive approach, regardless of the circumstances. And it’s true, he is the same whether the team is winning or losing.
Maybe the most important trait is consistency. Players need to know what they are going to get from their manager from one day to the next. Hopefully his demeanor relaxes the players in all circumstances. He seems composed (but sometimes nervous), but doesn’t always reinforce that composure with any sign of growth.
This team has the talent and athleticism to get to the Series, but only Brad’s leadership can take them there.