By: Holly Horning
Out of all the factors identified as potential reasons for Al Avila to keep Brad Ausmus as manager, the most significant one may revolve around the team’s timeline.
As we hit the end of the regular season, we’re starting to wrap up our in-depth analysis of the new GM’s decision to keep Brad in 2016 despite this year’s first-to-worst finish. If you haven’t already read the previous analyses, you can catch them at:
So it boils down to this final question:
Does the reason for keeping Brad have to do with the Front Office belief that the Tigers will not be in the running next year?
Before we address it, let me explain how we roll here at Totally Tigers. Kurt and I have a policy of never sharing our opinions before publishing. That way, we don’t influence each other. It also creates a nice compare/contrast situation where readers can see how we differ – or how we’re alike.
Last week, Kurt alluded to 2017, not 2016, being the key year for the team in one of his blogs. At the same time, I had already come to the same conclusion, jotted down my supporting information and waited for today to publish. So the fact that Kurt and I came to same summation, when we do not often agree, is very telling.
So allow me to offer my rationale……..
Could it be that the reason fans were so upset with the retention was due to their belief that the Tigers would not make the playoffs with Brad at the helm next year? Is the public assuming that the Tigers will be highly competitive in 2016? Are we looking at this all wrong?
Could, in fact, Al Avila be looking at next year, and its needs, and see this team as one needing more rebuilding? Does he believe the Tigers need too much pitching that will be hard to obtain all at once? Does he see a barren farm system that won’t permit the necessary trades? Has he been told that his payroll budget won’t increase?
Is he keeping Brad on as manager to buy more time as the team rebuilds and they wait for an experienced manager to take the helm at the right time? Is Al’s quote about Brad being great with young players code for a team that is looking to season its youngsters for future playoff contention? He did mention that he hopes Brad will improve, which hints at knowing Ausmus is not yet ready to manage a championship team.
Al’s press release quotes him saying “It is my belief, and our collective belief….that Brad is the right manager for this team given where the team is, at this point in time, and for us to achieve our goals in 2016.” He refers to where the team is currently, not where they should be, and does not state the goals for next year. In the past, the Tigers have always said “all in” or “win now mode.” Those key phrases have not been used at all in the Tigers’ public statements referencing next year.
He goes on to say “…our goal is to bring a World Championship to Tigers fans…We are working together every day to be the best we can today, and rest assured we will make the necessary adjustments needed along the way.” Does his quote indicate acknowledgement that the team won’t be ready to seriously contend next year? Could his final sentence be considered a statement of reassurance about bringing in a new manager when the time is right?
Once again, there are many more questions than there are answers. Hopefully, the answers become more clear in the first half of 2016. We will have a better sense of the Front Office’s timeline for winning.
So what do we pull out of all these press releases? It would appear that the Tigers are hedging their bets and looking more towards 2017 than 2016 given their cautious, ambiguous statements. Wisely, they’re not raising expectations for next year, but they are also considering what needs to be done to maintain their fan base as much as possible given the possibility of a year of diminished expectations.