By: Holly Horning
These are interesting times in which we Tiger fans live. Every day seems to bring a new twist or drama that impacts whether the team wins or loses.
But have you noticed that while the Tigers have slowly started to drop in the standings, the controversial sideshows have been increasing? And they just may be the motivation in releasing a manager sooner, rather than later.
Owners never like to upset the apple cart, so to speak, during the season which is why many of them let managers go just as players are heading home. And there are many reasons why they fire, not just based upon where a team sits in the standings.
In a previous blog, “Chicken and the Egg” (https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2015/07/14/chicken-and-the-egg/), I outlined a number of arguments why Brad is still wearing the Old English D. The most likely reasons center around waiting for the right managerial candidate to become available and a possible change in the Front Office.
If Dave Dombrowski is not returning, then it’s logical to understand that his successor will want to bring in his own manager. But the issue now is whether the Tigers can afford to wait any longer.
We’ve known about the feud between JV and Brad since last year. In 2015, we’ve watched Rajai get dressed down in the dugout in full public view and several quotes from Brad that seem to question Rajai’s skills. And it’s not surprising why Rajai hasn’t been playing much lately. Seen from an owner’s and GM’s point of view, Brad is undermining Davis’ trade value in his free agent year.
But Ausmus has also made some interesting statements about Gose recently. And let’s not forget Victor’s “no comment” quote when asked to analyze Brad’s managerial moves after a disastrous game. More players, including Price, are being left out to dry by their manager. And this isn’t good.
VMart made the news again the other night when the media asked him if he had talked to management about current team issues. While some thought Victor was not showing leadership by responding “no”, it was actually a very smart move by him. It helped him and the team avoid the feeding frenzy that would have resulted if he had answered “yes.”
Mr. I has indicated publicly that he sees Victor as family – and vice versa. There’s no doubt the two have spoken and Victor, ever the stabilizer of team dynamics, has probably told his boss that the mood has become worrisome.
But in addition to this drama, we can add the unhappiness of two very expensive starting pitchers. The other night, Price, ever the professional and low-key guy, had enough. And it came just several starts after the infamous game when he left after the 6th inning and no one noticed.
He broke protocol by handing the ball over to Castellanos and leaving the mound before Ausmus arrived. He tugged at his cap, lowering the bill closer to his eyes, and avoided eye contact with Brad. As he walked off, he patted the Old English D worn over his heart several times. It was his way of communicating his appreciation to the fans and his team mates in what was probably his last game as a Tiger.
Price pitched his heart out in this extra-innings game that was known more for questionable managerial moves than for the stellar talent on the mound. And a night later, an almost identical scenario, just with a different pitcher. While we should have been focused on JV’s great performance, once again, the buzz on social media was about Brad’s managing.
And this is the biggest reason why the official breaking point may have been reached. While disintegrating team mood is a solid reason for managers to be let go, another is to allow very expensive talent to be wasted.
Price is earning $20 million this year while JV is pulling in $28 million. Two great games pitched with the added bonus that Justin is showing that he still has the potential to rebound. But the Tigers ended up with two losses that easily could have been wins.
Mr. I cannot possibly be happy. His huge investment is being wasted. And in a year where pitching has become a weak link for the team, he’s got to consider all viable options, not just trades, to maximize the results from the starting rotation.