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.


  1. Two starters, a closer, aveteran arm for The bullpen, a leftfielder, a third baseman all at once are a little too many to male a contender in 2016


  2. Agree that the Tigers won’t be contenders in 2016, but wouldn’t it make sense to have a quality manager with a longer term commitment during the rebuilding year?


    • BBB, absolutely! Which is why in another installment, I mentioned that potentially the Tigers don’t see the right manager out there yet, They are possibly hoping they will get their man before Brad’s contract runs out. Thanks for your question – and for reading! – Holly


  3. I think both the owner and Avila felt guilty for the manner Dombrowski was fired and for the leaks that were anything but classy in telling what they thought of Ausmus’s performance. The prospects for non-contention loom strong, so the cost of keeping Brad to save face is not extraordinarily high, or is it? They care more about pr than putting the best team on the field and in the dug out.


  4. Here’s my biggest issue with those who call Ausmus “inexperienced.” If one has been working on the job for 2 years, in no matter what field, is he or she still “inexperienced?” Personally, I think not. So, because of that, I would call Brad Ausmus an “experienced manager!”


  5. Let’s see what happens in the off season but I/m calling out several items right now! Win now: In his hiring announcement Al said “expectations have not changed from Illich”. And then he said he would and could win. Brad helping young players: Al swept the farm system and name me 3 call-ups who have flourished enough to fill a need under Brads brilliance since?


  6. Another good reason to point towards 2017 is the building activity in Detroit that also points to 2017 – the M-1 rail line, the new hockey arena. Much attention will be focused on that development, and the Tigers could probably fly under the radar next year as they rebuild, and be part of a lot of excitement in 2017.


  7. Too much pitching “fixes” required to realistically go for it in 2016 and thus we get Brad again. And I’m betting AA will be retained also. As tough as 2016 will be for Tiger fans, it will be very challenging for the likes of Ian, JV, VM and Cabby. That’s why I see Al Sr posibly giving a couple of them their freedom with unique trade arrangements.


  8. A little more than a decade ago the pistons had a coach in Rick Carlysle that got them to the playoffs. Eventually the right coach came along in Larry Brown and got them to a championship. Hopefully by sometime next year or during the offseason in 2016 the right manager will be available and get us back into the playoffs and beyond


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