By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
We are down to almost a handful of games now for the Tigers and it is almost decision time for our general manager. Al Avila’s first task will be to decide the fate of Brad Ausmus.
The popular opinion is that he is gone. But let’s analyze this assumption with some specifics. There are strong opinions, but Brad could head in one of a number of directions following the season. Any guesses? Let’s start with our writers, but then it’s your turn.
What do you see Brad Ausmus doing in 2016?
Holly – Whatever it is, it won’t be with the Tigers. I expect Al Avila to announce two days after the season ends and two days before the playoffs begin (Tuesday, Oct. 6th) that Brad has “been relieved of his duties” because the Tigers are “going in a different direction.”
I expect Ausmus to stay in baseball but cannot believe that with everything that has happened this year, combined with a “first to worst” finish, will earn him another job as a manager.
At least not in the near future. It doesn’t help that the team ranked very well in offensive categories and had the fourth largest payroll in baseball yet finished in the Central Cellar.
From my experience in analyzing personality types for corporate clients, Brad appears, unofficially, to be a linear thinker. Left-brain dominant that feels most comfortable dealing with facts and stats.
These types tend not to demonstrate creativity easily or change their strategies on the fly. His alter-ego would be Joe Maddon who is classic right-brain dominant.
These qualities don’t make for an effective manager who often has to change in-game strategy and understand how to work with the intangibles, including personalities and motivation. Everyone wants to be a manager but really, few are qualified to be successful at it.
But from interviews I read, players say he is very user-friendly. And given his laid-back demeanor, Brad would make an excellent coach. Supportive, understanding and approachable. I can see him working along-side young catchers and pitchers to help them advance their skills.
But I could also see him working for a Front Office focused on the statistical approach to the game. Can’t get more linear than that! He’s undoubtedly smart but his strengths sit with numbers and reports, not in managing people.
Dave Dombrowski may know players’ physical talents, but it now appears he didn’t understand the importance of matching people skills. He did Brad no favors by hiring him and I wish Brad the best in finding a job that utilizes his strengths. Leo Durocher is still correct in his assessment about what happens to nice guys.
Kurt – Was Brad ready to be a manager? My immediate answer is no. Brad needed experience, and he needed to get it at a lower level, where he could afford to make mistakes. He needed to cut his teeth on a smaller piece of meat.
The last thing he was ready for was the major leagues. But should we blame Brad? If someone’s going to offer, especially a city where he spent a major part of his career as a player, why not accept?
Brad had the opportunity to manage a team loaded with talent. He would inherit a team used to contending for a championship. So you would think that this kind of opportunity would be a whole lot easier than starting with a team used to losing.
Well, not in this case. This team was not a candidate for a rookie manager. They were a candidate for continued experience, a skipper that could take them the rest of the way after the departure of Jim Leyland.
But get ready for the jaw dropper. A lot has changed since the end of July; and we are about to learn a lot about our rookie general manager, who just may have a soft spot in his heart for the position Brad is in. After losing 3 high quality pillars from this team at the deadline, all pressure and most of the blame has been removed from Brad Ausmus.
Players have begun to rally around their manager; and the decision to send Bruce Rondon home has been endorsed publicly by several Tigers.
So I sense something happening here. We have a rookie GM, who is still “evaluating” his manager. And with the pressure off, the little moves, the popular moves, may save Brad Ausmus. We are about to find out a lot about how strong our “rookie” GM is.