By: Kurt Snyder
Consider today’s segment a little break from Holly’s analytical brilliance. She has done a great job the last couple days and all through the week of really digging up some meaty stuff to think about as we bring to a close a deep dive discussion on why the Tigers came to such a peculiar decision on the fate of their manager, and what the future may now hold.
The Chicago White Sox stole a page from the Tigers’ book this week after a season of disappointment of their own; deciding to retain Robin Ventura as their manager for next season. They made a number of additions to their roster prior to this season that turned a lot of heads in the Central Division.
In fact, some writers even went far enough to say that the Sox would battle the Tigers for the division title, without even a mention of the defending American League Champion Royals. I didn’t understand how little regard the Royals were getting considering how impressive they were down the stretch and into the playoffs in 2014.
But we know full well about how good Kansas City is. But we also know that Chicago has pretty much decided on their fate for next year as well; not unlike the Tigers.
The message is clear for both teams: They are probably not going to win, so they might as well save their bullets and let the same flawed field generals send them, but certainly not lead them into battle.
After the trade deadline, I made it pretty clear on this site, that I had made peace with the Tigers failures and the direction they had decided to take. I understood Dombrowski’s position and I agreed with the direction, despite the departure of 3 pretty dynamics players.
But I had made peace prior to the fireworks; the release of Dave Dombrowski. While stories continue to run rampant about the reasons why DD was let go, I am no longer at peace with the Tigers. They didn’t finish what they started. In fact they delayed the most important move.
As we bring to a close this weekend, our assessment of the decision to retain Brad Ausmus, I think it’s only right that I share my feelings on where the Tiger organization sits.
I have always been one to defend the Tigers when it came to the subject of the ‘closing window.’ I never understood it, certainly not with this organization. The combination of Mike Ilitch and Dave Dombrowski was a duo that had held back nothing in their quest for a championship.
There certainly was a lot of risk in our approach and it wasn’t difficult to wonder when the branches on the talent tree would no longer produce trade pieces for high-priced players to fill holes.
But everything came to a head at the trade deadline. Dombrowski had to break it to Ilitch that the window was indeed closing. How could he break it to him? This was a team that always sat in the weeds and waited for coveted prey to walk by. When we saw what we wanted and needed, the Tigers would pounce. But they always had something with perceived value to offer in return from their farm, until now.
Iitch had reasons we may never know about, but he had clearly reached the end of his rope with constantly coming up short, so DD, after 14 seasons, was cut loose.
But I’m not happy Dombrowski is gone. I think this team will suffer in his absence. And the first indication is the short-term performance of Al Avila. Al has a lot to prove. And we will have to trust for now that the decision to retain his manager is the right one, even though for the time being, I am incensed that this is what they have come up with so far as the first of many steps to improve this ball club.
The obvious first step for our new GM was to fire the manager; the obvious and necessary move assumed by everyone to be a done deal. Bringing on a new manager with some clout, with some experience, with some pedigree was the shot in the arm the Tigers needed to reinvigorate them.
A new manager was needed to show the Tigers were serious and to send a message that we cannot by any stretch of the imagination give a loyal fan base the idea that we are going to tread water for a while. As much as today’s fanbase love the fun atmosphere at Comerica Park, part of the reason it’s been fun is the winning. And if that doesn’t continue, they will find something else to entertain them.
But this is the message the Tigers are sending. They can make moves to improve the pen, make moves to improve the rotation, make a move to add talent in the outfield, but without making the necessary move with the managerial position, all you have done is plug the little holes in the boat, while the biggest hole is ignored.
Sure the boat will stay afloat a little longer, but it is going to sink. If the Tigers spend the next few months improving their team, it still won’t be enough, because the man in charge is bound to continue with the mistakes that held this team back the last 2 seasons. And there is no reason, no indication to believe, anything will change.
The Tigers have conceded 2016 before 2016 has even begun, all because they didn’t have the courage to make the necessary first move.