By: Kurt Snyder
Dear Mr. Ilitch,
I can’t imagine how you must be feeling as another Tiger season threatens to end once again, with disappointment; another season that may end without even a playoff appearance.
All over the league teams are fighting tooth and nail to qualify for the elusive Wild Card spots. Teams like Seattle and even the Yankees have gotten on rolls in September. Sure, they may run out of gas and not qualify, but these teams have shown a lot of character, a lot of spunk and desire, in an attempt to snatch one of those spots.
The Yankees, who sold the farm to build a farm, have surprised just about everyone with their improved play and contention for a Wild Card. But your Tigers, they are just meekly fading away.
Sure, there have been great individual performances, mostly by Justin Verlander, who has given you a season about which to be proud. But there have been countless times where he has worked so hard to win, but has gotten little support from his offense. Saturday was another one of those days as your team couldn’t muster even one run against 9, count them, NINE, Indian relievers.
Your instincts look to have been correct when in spring training, you communicated to Al Avila that you thought the team needed more offense, which ultimately translated into the arrival of Justin Upton.
Under your tenure, the acquisitions of these high priced, high profile, big time players have always been exciting. They have always moved the needle for the fans as together they offered a potential Tiger version of Murderer’s Row. Adding Upton to a lineup that already included Miggy, VMart and JD, would dominate American League pitching, right?
We had the same feeling when you jumped into the fray and asked Dave Dombrowski to do what it takes to get Prince Fielder. Again, it was an exciting proposition, not only pairing him with Miggy, but also for the following season when VMart would return. Certainly those 3 players could never be survived by opposing pitchers.
But your team always comes up short. There is certainly enough offense. But is there enough drive? You have spent a lot of money, but money spent has never been the answer. It has never translated into a championship. You must invest in leadership.
Fans around Detroit openly complained throughout Jim Leyland’s time as your manager; chastising him for never being able to win a World Title. But if you are like me, you are finding out now, how difficult it has been to fill his shoes.
Dave Dombrowski’s hiring of Brad Ausmus was endorsed by you. And even with no managerial experience, optimistic fans painted it as an out-of-the-box move for the Tigers. Forward thinking. Leaving old school for new and innovative ideas.
Brad was to provide all of that. But it just hasn’t happened. Jim Leyland got you to the playoffs, won several playoff series, but never a World Series. The job for the next field general would be to finish the job.
So I have several questions. Knowing your team and who knows it more than you, how could a “wet behind the ears” rookie manager lead your team of veterans? Why would you or Dave Dombrowski believe this was the final answer for this team, seemingly on the cusp of a championship?
Everybody makes mistakes, but why has Brad been retained for 2 more seasons after the embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Orioles in 2014, when he was horribly out-managed, when he so poorly handled the pen?
And after last season, during a season when your high-priced team finished in last place in the Central, why was Brad retained? Injuries? Well, ok, it sets a nice precedent for this season now, doesn’t it? Since the Tigers suffered several critical injuries this year as well, does Brad remain blameless once again for your team underperforming?
And what about this month? Everything was set up nicely for a surge. A weak schedule would certainly help the Tigers at least stay within striking distance of the Indians, if not allow them to gain ground. But it hasn’t helped. In fact, your team is lying down. The division is now certainly lost and the Wild Card chances appear bleak as well.
So assuming things continue to head down the tubes, we have a request. Please do not subject us to more managerial complacency next season. You have a talented team. But something is missing. There has been something missing for 3 years. And the one constant has been Brad Ausmus.
So when you speak with Al Avila after the season, just stop him when he begins to defend your manager. There is no defense. And you know what, if Al is so blind to what is going on, broom the both of them. They are doing you a disservice. Thank you.