By:  Kurt Snyder

When do managers really earn their keep? Is it the way they set their lineup? Is it the way they set their starting rotation? Or is it how they use their bullpen?

Well, it’s all those things really. And they all require a decision. It’s not a ‘set it and forget it’ scenario. Every game offers different challenges where quick, intelligent decisions need to be made.

And we hold managers to a level of performance that is really unattainable when the team struggles. There are mistakes on the field, poor performances on the field, poor hitting and poor baserunning. It goes on and on when you are in the midst of a losing streak or extended slump. Nothing seems to go right. So sometimes we look to the manager to make it all right.

Is it fair? Not completely. But when a team is struggling as much as the Tigers are, mistakes by the manager on top of everything, seem to be magnified.

But I also firmly believe that a manager can learn a lot by fighting through a losing streak with their team. They learn how their little mistakes become big ones when all you need, all you want in the worst way, is a single win.

When the team is playing well and things are clicking, a team becomes much easier to manage, because players are executing. Your plan is executed. And if you make a mistake like Brad Ausmus did on Monday night by pinch-hitting VMart in the situation where he would certainly be walked with first base open, it becomes a mistake that is so much more amplified when you are losing.

A team that is winning games can survive managerial mistakes. They can be easily erased with continued execution. But when opportunities to score are limited or there are missed opportunities to score, managerial missteps are glaring. And that’s when the fans notice and want the manager’s head for all the losing.

But baseball is a team game. Long losing streaks are shared by just about everyone up and down the roster. And managers unfortunately must take a lot of the blame as well.

Managers tend to earn their money in the late innings. It’s when they need to make their most critical decisions. So when your team executes the plan, the manager looks good.

But here’s the thing; as a manager, your decision cannot take the ability to execute out of the hands of a top player. When they are not allowed to affect the game positively because of managerial decision, that’s where we have a problem.

Taking the bat of out of VMart hands Monday night, a valuable bat waiting on the bench, hoping for the opportunity to help win a game, is a glaring mistake. And it’s a puzzling one when a manager admits full well that he knew Vmart would be walked, and then follows it up by trying to defend it.

A manager has to earn respect. And he earns it by executing in the late innings. That’s right, the manager needs to execute as well. It’s a team game. But when he doesn’t, you want to see him own up to it sometime before the next day. It took the Tiger manager overnight before he decided the right move was not made with his most dangerous hitter off the bench.

Cameras and microphones are thrust into the faces of players every night after games, win or lose, and they are faced with questions about their performance. And they own up to a lot when the team doesn’t fare well. They should. They are getting paid very well to execute their roles. But rarely do we see our manager own up to his lack of execution, when those instances occur.

Refreshingly he did it Tuesday, admitting to the VMart mistake the day after the game. But, I have to be fair. I don’t think Brad thought it was a mistake. It had to sink in … overnight.  Better late than never I guess.

Instinctive decisiveness; it is maybe the most concise way to describe the role of a successful major league manager. But hidden in those words is instant recognition. You must quickly understand and acknowledge, when you make a mistake. It may prevent the next one.


  1. Pinch hitting VMart was a very controversial decision, being right and being wrong at the same time. Even knowing he would’ve been walked, it was the 8th inning of a tie game, and the go ahead run on 2nd. Would’ve VMart have another chance to bat in such a situation? It is also true that you cannot lose without using your best players off the bench.


  2. Speaking of microphones thrust in the faces of players– Isn’t it strange that Salty has become one of the most frequent spokespersons? New leader or reporters choosing the path of least resistance?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Walking Victor was elemental in that situation. Everyone knew it. Did he do it to avoid answering the inevitable question of why he wasn’t used after the game was lost? Seems like he covered all his bases for the post game press conference by choosing what he felt was the lesser of two evils. His instinct was to help himself. His admission of it being a mistake came too late to correct that impression.


  4. Fast, instinctive calls are of higher quality the deeper the pool of a person’s experience. Formulaic managing has been employed to cover for that lack of experience. Competence is the most important quality a leader can have. It’s no real mystery that it’s Ausmus’ lack of experience and competence that’s behind the broad and varied inconsistency of this team.


  5. Brad should have been groomed for a major league managerial position by managing a minor league club or being on the coaching staff of an experienced manager for a few years. He was thrust onto the main stage before he was ready and that has turned out to be bad for him and the team.


  6. Everybody and their brother knew a mart would be walked, including the ESPN broadcasters. Can you grasp how such a move impacted VM’s psych as well as the teams? And yes a managers job primarily encompasses decision making, especially at the pro level. But when fundamentals, bone head mental errors and lack of hustle become repetitious, managers must COACH, at any level.


  7. He’s not a particularly good in-game strategist, to put it mildly, but then Leyland wasn’t great either. More importantly, he has failed to be a leader, to instill an attitude of focus, cohesion and confidence in his charges. The Tigers seem distracted; it is almost as if they expect to lose.


  8. The Tigers are in a funk and protracted losing streaks are a resounding indicator for a new manager.I recall years ago in the playoffs where Miggy stood up and flared an alternating grimacing, menacing look at Leyland during a needed pitching change which Leyland didn’t bother to do and the Tigers ended up losing. Thank you, K and H for creating an outlet where we can discuss the TRUTH without whining.


  9. Speaking of earning something. Guess who was the catcher for the Tigers the last time a pitcher made MLB history for most K in a game? Clemens scorched the 1996 Tigers with Ausmus behind the dish. That sort of big leaugue experience is invaluable for an experienced manager to avoid repeating one of the more embarrassing club milestone. What? Oh! Never mind.


Comments are closed.