THE BREAKING POINT

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.

14 thoughts on “THE BREAKING POINT

  1. Totally agree! You can just see the players have no respect for Brad. It’s the star players too! His moves of players in games is highly questioable, I thought Leyland over managed but this guy along with Lamont is all over the place!

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  2. I’m starting to wonder if Ilitch is watching. If they were going to salvage this season and really make a run at a championship, they’d have canned Ausmus long ago, while a change might have meant something. At least by showing that they cared to shake things up a little. This lackadaisical “that’s baseball” attitude should have been shown the door at least a month ago.

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    • Randall. I completely agree with your points. I understand the desire to wait for a desirable manager to become available but we have alternatives while the team waits for the right candidate. Alan Trammel appears to be a viable candidate for interim manager. While Trammel’s first effort with the team was a flop, he never had the talent that is on the Tigers now.

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  3. This post seems based on several speculations: Price is upset, Verlander is upset, Martinez is upset, Mike Illitch is engaged with the club. It seems to me that at least publicly Ausmus has always been careful not to throw players under the bus. He has been extremely supportive to a fault in my mind with showing loyalty to players.

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    • Guys, no rumors here. I based my observations on my professional training as an interpreter of body language of both Price and JV. No doubt VMart is upset given two quotes he made – and also Ausmus’ quotes that questioned the abilities of Gose and Rajai. I would question the assumption that Ausmus is loyal to players because just maybe it’s not actually loyalty at all. It could be he’s afraid to pull the trigger – similar to his inability to pull pitchers in a timely basis.

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  4. Once Mr I gives the green light to sell, all the pieces of the puzzle will be in place. We’ll know the name of the new GM (Avila Sr?) who will do the dirty job to fire Brad and probably use Tram as internim, hoping Francona, or another veteran manager, will be available. What they might all need is a change of scenario.

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  5. Maybe they will pull a Stan Van Gundy this week and completely shake up the roster, including a firing of Ausmus. Then, Trammell could take over temporarily and try to be competitive through the end of the year, to keep the ticket-buyers happy. Whoever’s GM after the season could determine the next moves.

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  6. I had thought that towards the end of last season, even by winning their divivion, that Ausmus had started to lose his players. Looking at them this year in the month of May I new he had lost them. Now you see it it not only their play on the field but also their frustration with their interviews. Very good article Holly. I totally agree.

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  7. Another choice for interim manager that should be considered is Omar Vizquel. He has a high baseball IQ, has indicated that he would like to manage in the big leagues and, most importantly, the players respect him. His Hispanic heritage would definitely eliminate any questions about messages not getting thru to the team.

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    • Ray, I like your “out of the box” managerial suggestion. My question would be his ability to work with the pitching staff. For “out of the box” bench coach, I would try Rod Allen. For GM I like Dave D. if he still has the passion for the Tigers which I think he does.

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  8. Everything hinges on DD staying or not. I for one can’t imagine him leaving MR I at the point. Too much two way loyalty. Ausmus must go- perhaps Tram serves as temporary as the clubhouse is a wreck. jV, VM, Iggy and McCann have been the biggest wastes. Can only hope he doesn’t ” push” Miggy.

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  9. I like Trammell, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t think he is the Manager, interim or not. I think they ought to bring Leyland back if he is willing for the remainder of the year. That is my first choice.

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  10. As much as I love Ausmus going back to his 2 tours with the Tigers, I’ve had a lot of issues with his managerial decisions where I am questioning whether he should be a major league manager at all. There’s a lot of talent on this team and whether Cabrera is hurt or not, it doesn’t justify being/finishing 10-15-20 games out of first place.

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