COMMUNICATION IS KEY

by:  Holly Horning

With Al Avila having assumed the GM post 5 months ago, it will be interesting to see how he differs from his predecessor.

One of the issues to judge is his communication style.  Will he do a better job getting on the same page as Mr. I?  Time will tell.

Enjoy this post from early November and keep it in mind as we go through the coming season.


Everyone knows that successful organizations reach their goals because they identify what they want, create a strategy for achieving it, define the steps and work towards meeting the necessary goals. Understood in this entire process is that it only works when there is good, clear and constant communication between all parties.

We all know the ultimate goal of the Tigers. But did ownership and the Front Office follow the other two rules as listed above? It’s appeared less likely over the past couple of years.

Of greater concern is the increasing number of what is perceived to be communication gaffes seen between Mr. I and his Front Office going back to 2013 – and even beyond.

Are the Tiger decision-makers no longer on the same page? Are they getting in each other’s way? Are they making assumptions about each other’s priorities?

Let’s identify some of the major conflicts characterized by questionable communication breakdowns as reported by multiple media outlets.

Keep in mind that some of these reports will be true and some false, but the issue at large is that they all contradict each other. As fans, and even including from within the Tiger organization, we are no longer sure about the team’s real intent or goals given what we’ve seen and heard.

– Brad Ausmus is hired despite Mr. I’s reported objections over someone who has never managed in baseball.

– Dave Dombrowski continues to ignore the bullpen despite overwhelming evidence that it wins playoff games.

– Mr. I “releases” a surprised Dave from his contract in a year when the two never initiated contract extension talks.

– Reports indicated DD’s departure was due to July’s trades of Price, Cespedes and Soria, despite prior approval by Mr. I.

– Other reports mentioned that Mr. I was angry that Dave was secretly exploring other job opportunities despite the absence of contract talks.

– Other media reported that Dave was let go because of his hiring and support for Brad Ausmus even though Mr. I. was opposed to it. Did Dave not see this coming?

– Despite reports that Mr. I did not support the hiring of Ausmus, Al Avila retains him as manager despite a last place finish.

Pure and simple, this is communication chaos. How can the Tigers organization reach their elusive goal if both sides aren’t on the same page?

Has Mr. I clearly stated his goals and preferences to his new GM? Does Al Avila understand Mr. I’s priorities? Does he understand the risks involved? Is his move of retaining Ausmus based upon support for him or was it done as part of a different strategy?

Let’s hope the two sides are clear with each other about the goals and actions needed. It’s not just the communication in the clubhouse that counts.

5 thoughts on “COMMUNICATION IS KEY

  1. Holly do you feel or have you heard anything to suggest Mr. I would want Trammel or Gibby to step in if Brad is sacked during the season? No shortage of former Major Leaugue coaches around the organization.

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    • Hi, Matt – I haven’t gotten wind of anything but Mr. I and Al are undoubtedly very aware that a decision either way about Brad has to come by mid-summer at the very latest. It would be smart of them to put some short-term safety nets in just in case of worst case scenario. They’ve got 3 right now if you add Lloyd but I really do think they are biding their time until the right manager becomes available so they don’t get locked into another long-term contract by being impatient. This will certainly be a hot-button topic this year! Thanks for your question. – Holly

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  2. Holly, an owner has to hire a steward and let the them handle all sports related issues. The two people must communicate but a smart owner should defer to the BASEBALL MAN on personnel issues. That’s why the GM was hired, after all. I love the fact that Mr. I will do whatever it takes to “win now”, but maybe Ilitch’s desire for the big names got in the way of DD’s big picture.

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  3. I also find it hard to believe DD was surprised when he was let go. I gotta believe he would have had a new deal a year ago if Ilitch planned on keeping him. A winning season (at least a trip to the WS) may have been enough to keep DD, but I think the only “surprise” was the timing of DD’s departure.

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    • I think the timing of the departure was influenced by DD’s midseason “job hunting” activities. Perhaps Mr. I got wind of it, got infuriated and reacted quickly.

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