By: Holly Horning
Concerns over the bullpen have been eased. Debates over left field have now been resolved. VMart is still presumably working out without incident and pictures of Miggy dragging a Mack truck like he just picked up a few things at the grocery shopping are reassuring.
What’s not to love about the Tigers one week before pitchers and catchers report?
Wellllllll, there is one little thing that has a number of fans concerned. And we receive more comments about him than any other Tiger-related topic. So on this holiday weekend, it bears repeating that conceivably Al Aliva has a master plan. Something that didn’t make sense at the end of last year, or even now – but will at some point this year.
For those of you who didn’t catch the earlier blog or the series of blogs focused on why Avila kept Brad Ausmus as manager, here is one of them that may help set the stage.
Some people collect stamps. Others? Fine wine or classic cars.
But the Tigers? They collect former managers.
Think about it. How many teams can say they have half a dozen former MLB managers under their roof? Lamont. Clark. Trammell. Gibson. Leyland. And now McClendon. Just 3 guys short of fielding a team.
“Club, it is” as Yoda would say. And I would love to be a fly on the wall when they gather for drinks, dinner and stories. I hear they even perform seances and summon the spirits of Sparky and Billy.
But I can’t help but think they will be adding another member within a year. His name is Ausmus and he may just become one of the more viable members to keep on the payroll.
Let me explain.
In the off-season, I kept reading all these stories about the work Brad has been doing. The travel, the meetings, the conferences, the interviews with free agents and the groundwork required with building The Tigers’ Way. I don’t remember any other Tiger manager being given these responsibilities. Or managers with other organizations, for that matter.
Granted, Dave Dombrowski was known to tightly control the team and centralize the power. But we now know that Al Avila does things much differently than his former boss. Could he be seeing Brad’s true calling?
We know Brad is very smart. Maybe even “too smart” at times. But there are different levels of smart. Some of the best intellects in the game were horrible people managers (Ted Williams) and others who couldn’t even utter a grammatically-correct sentence were masters at motivating people (Sparky Anderson).
As a manager, and as one who regularly trains corporate managers, I can tell you it’s one of the toughest jobs out there. It is the rare individual who has a strong ability for the job. Most of the qualities which make a manager highly successful cannot be taught. The best have a natural ability in handling the many different personalities and situations as they pop up. The job requires a dash of psychology and a whole heapin’ helpin’ of gut instinct.
Does this sound like Brad? I didn’t think so either.
But where I think Brad excels is in the factual arena of analytics and the bigger picture of how to update and add value to the corporate entity. It was mentioned that he had a lot of ideas about how to develop the player’s manual.
This is Brad’s first real full-time job in MLB since retiring. And like the rest of us, it often takes a job or two to discover if it is truly your calling. In the 2+ years of media interviews, he’s never come across as comfortable, confident or passionate about his job.
Professional coaches will be the first to say that those who love their work don’t have a problem conveying their passion for what they do. Listen to the interviews MLB tv and radio do with the managers. Listen to Bochy, Maddon, Hinch, Showalter, Francona, Molitor, Collins, Hurdle, Banister and Matheny. They are inspiring and speak so eloquently about their vision and goals. It’s no coincidence that they show their love for the game and are successful in what they do.
But I did hear Brad give an uncharacteristically good interview when he was addressing the work he is doing this off-season. And none of it had to do with managing a roster. Hmmm….
So could the Tigers keep Brad around in another capacity? I’m not a betting person but I’d take those odds and say “yes.”
Much of it has to do with the Tigers’ corporate culture about their former managers and coaches who left to manage other teams and then returned. The Tigers, for whatever reason, have a hard time closing the door on them. They are the Ellis Island of MLB teams in taking in the poor, huddled managerial masses. They have a very hard time saying goodbye.
And moving Brad into a Front Office position may be the perfect and easiest solution for the team. No mess, no fuss, no fallout and no ‘splainin’ to do. Brad would also get a promotion. Could even be that he helps to update one of baseball’s most antiquated teams with ideas and programs to bring them into the 21st Century.
In the immortal words of comedienne Judy Tenuta, “It could happen!” (Accordion optional.)