By: Kurt Snyder
We were all worried about this weren’t we? All of us.
When Al Avila took over the reigns as GM, there was an order of business to take care of. And one very obvious first step. The whole town knew what it was. In fact, the news media went as far as announcing that Brad Ausmus would be fired after the 2015 season.
But he wasn’t. Avila shocked everyone by holding onto a manager fans and media alike thought would never live to see another day in Detroit. He certainly hadn’t earned another season. The Tigers ravaged by injuries all year, were also saddled with a manager not capable of persevering, not able to lead them out of it.
By now, we are all too familiar with how Brad seems to compound all the issues by continuing to be one of the team’s weaknesses. Well, that didn’t just begin. It’s been going on for over 2 years. And after year 2 of the same old song and dance, Avila had one simple and obvious move to make to kick off his tenure. Firing Ausmus and bringing in his own guy would wipe the slate clean, the necessary move before rebuilding the roster.
But we all moved on and watched Al go to work, putting together a better team for Brad. Tearing down the bullpen and building it back up. Signing Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton. Heading into the spring, there were reasons to be excited about this team. On the surface, it appeared Avila had addressed most of the issues that had cost the Tigers last season.
All except for one. And even though fans were quiet in the off-season and sat back and watched Avila masterfully improve his roster, there was still the issue of who was kept around to lead. I remember comments among the fan base, people who were still reluctant to get behind the team even with all the new additions and the all-important subtractions. There was still one common denominator.
Would any of these moves matter? Could the Tigers perform in spite of their manager? Well, no, that never happens. So far, Brad’s biggest quality is his ability to put teams to sleep. And unfortunately, it has been his own.
So the bloom is off the rose for Al Avila. He received high praise on this site during the off-season. His roster changes, most of them, outside of the signing of Pelfrey, seemed smart, calculated and strategic.
But through almost 40 games, very few of his acquisitions are performing. Outside of Jordan Zimmermann, they have all struggled.
We wrote a post on this site back in March titled, Tiger Fans in Wait and See Mode. It is borderline prophetic.
There has been guarded optimism. We have all waited. We have all seen. But the Tigers are free-falling and there is now only one question. How much longer can we bear to watch?