LOYALTY SLOWING PROGRESS

By:  Kurt Snyder

It’s been obvious, hasn’t it? I’ve spent a fair amount of ink showing my disdain for Brad Ausmus and his inability to lead a team to a championship. That was the task, fair or not, given to him by Dave Dombrowski.

Every season, you could follow every negative statement about our manager with an excuse that absolves him of any wrongdoing or managerial weakness. Injuries have been a constant during his time in Detroit.

Brad always seems to have something go wrong with the team that becomes a mask, if you will, for him to hide behind. No one yet knows for sure if he has the pedigree to become a top manager in this league.

Injuries seem to cripple his teams every season, yet many fans contend that despite the unavailability of some of his most impactful players for much of the last few seasons, Ausmus should have still been able to overcome.

Is it totally fair? No. But this all comes with the territory. When the team doesn’t perform, most of the blame comes down to the manager. However, Al Avila downright refuses to place blame on Ausmus for the Tigers’ performance over the last 3 seasons. He points to those same excuses as reasons why his manager was not able to overcome.

But enough of all that. We all know how deeply we have dug into the quality of the medical staff, how the Tigers train, how they deal with injuries, how soon players go on the disabled list, how soon they come off the list, and on and on it goes. All examples of things that absolve the manager of any blame or responsibility for the complacency of his baseball team.

Excuses. I am pretty tired of them all. But if you want to find one that lingers within our team, maybe the biggest one is loyalty. Now here is an excuse for losing we can hang our hat on.

Giving a general manager 14 seasons to win a championship. Loyalty.

Jim Leyland sticking around this organization as a consultant after a long run as manager. Loyalty.

A place on the staff always saved for Gene Lamont when the team is starving for new energy. Loyalty.

Bringing back Lloyd McClendon as a hitting coach when again, the team is starving for new energy. Loyalty.

I don’t know what it is? The Tigers cannot let go of the Jim Leyland days. As successful as they were, it all comes down to the bottom line. They didn’t get it completely done. Why is it that the Tigers in their quest to find the answers, continually look to the past?

But, the Tigers did make an attempt to shake that ‘living in the past’ mantra. When they brought on Ausmus, my response was “finally.” The Tigers had ditched the same old thing for something fresh and new. I felt he would have big Leyland shoes to fill, for sure, but the Tigers were looking to energize their team.

But, Ausmus has never moved this team forward. He has not been innovative in how he has built a staff. But he has been given no help. His management continues to provide him with tools from the past.

Jim Leyland should be nowhere in the vicinity of Brad’s office. If you want Leyland on board to evaluate talent in a scouting capacity, that’s fine. But he has to stay clear of the major league team. He had his time. And the Tigers are foolish to provide their manager with these old school crutches.

They brought Brad in to distance themselves from all of that. But then surround him with all that has been unsuccessful in the past. Gene Lamont? Don’t ask me why? Lloyd McClendon? Don’t ask me why? They are just reminders of old staff members who contributed to a winning atmosphere, but devoid of a championship. But Lamont has stayed around because Brad wanted him so, I am at a loss. How innovative has that been?

Brad can’t move forward with his own approach with constant counsel from guys that are past their prime. Corporations are filled with veteran employees who pound on the table in staff meetings preaching how they used to do things back in the day, back when they didn’t make any money. Retirements and fresh hires generally open yourself up for at least a shot at modern day creativity.

Yes, loyalty can actually hurt you. The Tigers have crippled themselves with it. And because of it, we will never know the real value of our manager if he is continually surrounded by voices of the past.

Loyalty is generally a good thing, but not when it breeds complacency.

18 thoughts on “LOYALTY SLOWING PROGRESS

  1. All of that is irrelevant when Ausmus allows “super stars” to play with a lack of the hustle that champions display every day. No matter what else happens, the Tigers will never be champions until they play like champions. They won’t be champions so long as Cabrera’s on the team acting like you can win without hustle. You simply CAN’T win without it.

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    • I agree Lon. Sparky, Billy Martin, Earl Weaver, to name a few, where all managers who commanded respect from the players. I can’t imagine any of them allowing the lack of hustle we see from some of the Tigers. Brad Ausmus may be better suited to manage at the college level. Seems like he is only taking up space with the Tigers.

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    • What’s the point of having a player as good as Cabrera if you are afraid to have him play the way champions play? Maybe he would be hurt less if he hustled on every play, instead of just once in a while. His body would get used to it, instead of being shocked by it.

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  2. And please do not forget all of the Avila family ties (and others) layered into this organization as well. That is the noose of loyalty as well. Merry Christmas to them all as I hope the big broom may one day soon come.

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    • The Big Broom won’t happen as long as an Ilitch is in charge. It’s apparent that our Tigers are probably the least progressive MLB franchise. Nevermind that Ceasar sabermetic and database nonsense. Loyalty faults, too many long term expensive contracts, no well-deserved number retirement ceremonies.

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  3. We were hoodwinked. Brad’s hire was not shaking that “living in the past mantra”. Holly wrote DD “revealed that he made Leyland the point person in finding his replacement..” Leyland found someone green, malleable, & shaped him into his own image. Voila! Meet your “new” manager.

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  4. Just FYI, seems to me that Joe Torre won 4 World Series and 2 more pennants with the Yankees, with a washed up old manager named Don Zimmer sitting by his side as his bench coach. Frankly, Zimmer was aged 65 to age 72 during that era, just about the same age Lamont has been backing up Leyland and now Ausmus!

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    • It’s not so much about age as it is duration of employment. To take poetic license with a Mark Twain quote, Loyalty to antiquated opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul. In this case “freed a team” to move forward.

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  5. Loyalty?! What’s the deal and reasoning behind naming Gerald Laird manager at the Tigers Connecticut minor league affiliate? Did it have something to do with him being on the Tigers last World Series team or they wanted yet another familiar face within the Tigers organization?

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  6. Apparently the reason so many Ausmus apologists absolve him of blame for the Tigers’ lack of success is that they “like” him. Some kind of personality cult. But as far as his assistants, and people around him, don’t you think the team lets him hire his own staff? I just always assumed Ausmus chose to keep the old gang together.

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    • Ausmus did select his own staff. He wanted Lamont all along, because Lamont had been his third base coach when he played for the Astros and they’d hit it off. Clark was a coach with the Astros also when Ausmus played there. Remember, Lloyd left when Leyland did, to manage Seattle.

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  7. Two comments Kurt. You, like so many others, always assume Ausmus has/had nothing to say about what supporting coaches are hired or retained. Also, seems like we have a double standard here. How many times have you complained about the Tigers’ lack of loyalty when they released your father?

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      • Randall, that is a valid point. Guess they had no loyalty to the existing staff. I do agree about BA hiring/keeping his coaches. I posted prior to reading ahead. Kurt, I retract my statement. And I enjoy your tales of the times spent with your dad.

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