By Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
As this disappointing Tiger season draws to a close and September looking like just a month for 2016 auditions, most of the discussion among fans has revolved around our manager.
An increasing number of our readers are commenting and wondering about what the Tigers will do with Brad Ausmus. Among the comments are questions about potential managerial candidates should the Tigers decide to make a change. Stay tuned for a future blog dedicated to that subject.
But first, let’s examine our manager’s future with the Tigers by addressing a very simple question.
Is it better to keep Brad for the rest of this year as manager or move on?
Holly – There are several reasons for moving forward without Brad. While this has been a bad year, it could get worse both in terms of performance and morale.
Does Mr. I really want to see his team sink even lower in the standings and win percentage? Thursday’s game with the tying run on third base and Avila not pulled for a pinch hitter is just one of many where Brad didn’t play to win. And it resulted in another drop into last place – but this time, in sole possession.
While the year may technically be over, there are still some worthy goals for the Tigers to achieve. First is Miggy’s offensive numbers and possible batting title run. JD has a strong chance to win the AL HR title while McCann could rank near the top for Rookie of the Year. These are the nice milestones we could look forward to at the end of a disappointing year.
Avoiding the continued loss of morale will help these three perform at their best. But more importantly, setting a new tone within the team will allow Al Avila to see next year’s potential starting lineup more clearly. Next week, a handful of promising players will head up from the minors for their tryouts.
An interim manager is more likely to assist in resetting the morale button and enhance the performance levels for the last month of the season. A new manager could also start working on breaking bad habits and strengthening teamwork principles in advance of next year.
While the ideal new manager is not yet available, why not audition Vizquel for bench coach? And give Tram a “re- do” of his managerial stint for one month – only with much better players. For all of his loyalty, give him a chance to neutralize bad memories and maybe even showcase his stuff for another team.
All in all, instead of treating September as a lost month, it should be used as a dress rehearsal for next year. Avila needs to see for himself what’s working, what’s not and to start assembling that “to do” list. Make September the fresh start, not the death of a season.
Kurt – Ausmus should have been let go after the trade deadline. Avila knew enough about the situation to pull the trigger and would have really made a statement by firing Brad instead of endorsing him for the rest of the season. Letting Brad go now serves no real purpose, so we might as well just let him ride it out; and I mean ‘out.’
The trades at the deadline and the key recent injuries to 2 starters doesn’t give them much of a chance anymore, most nights. This is a much different team now because of it.
With a starting rotation that consists of a hot Justin Verlander and 4 other guys, the Tigers are not going to win many more games. It appears they will settle deep into the cellar without much resistance. They no longer have enough guns to stop the decline.
But the guns we do have are loaded with pride, and they have individual goals left to attain. Guys like JV, Kinsler, Miggy and JD are on personal rolls and look to be trying to make the most of a bad situation. All should emerge from this season having had great personal success.
I know it’s funny to say that about 2 game winner Justin Verlander. But he has really come on and in a year where he looked to be really trending downward, he now is heading back up the ladder.
Given all of this, a managerial change at this point will make little difference. After the trade deadline was the time to do it and would have impacted the team more than it will now.
Ausmus can sit in the seat and work on perfecting his craft during meaningless September baseball, should for some incredibly strange reason he is retained for next season. But, there will be little pressure for him as there is nothing left to win or lose.
All the damage has already been done.