By:  Holly Horning

On Wednesday, we started to address the issues surrounding potential upcoming changes in Tigers management. In Part 1, the focus was on the possible off-season sale of the team as a major determining factor. Catch it here at:

But there are other variables which will influence whether changes are made. And when.

Ausmus is the most likely first person to exit given that ownership almost always supports the GM over the manager. But most General Managers are loathe to fire their field manager because it then exposes them to termination once the manager leaves. Let’s face it – the manager receives the lion’s share of the blame, whether deserved or not, and serves as employment protection for their boss.

As mentioned in the earlier blog , the All-Star break will be the first test of Brad’s continued tenure. It is the time when most managers with expiring contracts are extended. Failure to emerge from this event without one will make a statement. But in this particular case, we can’t assume that Brad will be gone at the end of the year – or sooner.

Especially if the team is still realistically in the running for any kind of title, even if it’s just within their division. And conceivably, Chris Ilitch and Al Avila may want to see what the final record may be.

But even if the team stumbles badly in the second half, there are reasons where it makes sense to keep Ausmus. The most obvious one would involve his replacement. Who would take over? Who is available? And would any new manager take the position knowing that the team may be positioning itself for a sale?

The logical choice to take the helm would be Lloyd McClendon who obviously returned to the team because they offered him the best chance to return to the majors as a manager. However, Lloyd hasn’t exactly set the world on fire as the hitting coach and a promotion would not sit well with many, including the fans.

The most likely reason to bring in a new manager before the season ends is if dissension within the player ranks becomes a factor. Brad has taken great pains to not ruffle the feathers of the roster – a lesson learned from Matt Williams’ experience with the Nats. However, KRod’s angry statements and questioning Brad’s and Dubee’s actions this past week is surprising and highly unusual for an organization that prides itself on keeping its dirty laundry from being aired.

But most organizations consider how their bottom line would be impacted before making any changes. And the Tigers, given their massive payroll, depend heavily upon attendance. Removing a manager before the season ends sends a message to the fans. And it’s not a very good one.

It tells them that things are not working. It can burst their bubble about the team’s hopes for the rest of the season. And unless the manager is extremely unpopular, it will lower attendance.

And it will also impact the guys in the dugout. Management changes, more often than not, tend to destabilize a team and pummel morale. Brad is known to be liked by the players and his departure would, at the very least, make players question where this organization is headed.

If the team is truly going to be put up for sale, those involved in the preparation may just believe that allowing the year to play out with everyone intact is the best way to go. It avoids the potential problems of destabilization, gives the turnstiles the best chance of continuing to spin and offers a nice, clean, natural break. Afterall, no one likes to deal with messy situations.

And a potential sale, or a change in direction, offers an opportunity to make changes with the least amount of disruption and the maximum potential of a smooth transition.

6 thoughts on “IT’S COMPLICATED (Part 2)

  1. Holly
    Excellent article and my opinion is that letting Ausmus go during or after the all star break may continue to fill seats at Comerica Park. I feel by maintaining the status quo, fans will start they’re true summer and slow down coming downtown. First and foremost the Illitch’s know this is a business, And a change could send a message that the Illitchs are not staying with no change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s complicated because we fans don’t know what the heck is going on behind the scenes. Other than conjecture, is there any hard evidence that Chris is thinking about selling the team? I saw him interviewed by Mario and he didn’t sound like someone who was thinking about selling the team. Just a guy who loves Detroit.


    • I would think Chris’ biggest problem right now, is getting the Pistons into his new arena, which may not happen with the pending lawsuit. Thus, he could care less about the Tigers right at this moment. As for Ausmus, I have to agree with Holly. You don’t fire the manager now in this situation, but instead wait until the season is over.


      • I lived downstate for 32 years and am now back un the UP. In all my years, I have never known anybody who follows basketball,myself included. Maybe Chris is not in his right mind.


  3. Holly is describing a perfect storm of a leadership vacuum from ownership on down confronting a self–created predicament of long-term fixed costs limiting options for addressing a team in precipitous decline. The near future is not going to be pretty.


    • I have to agree with you. The Tigers have too many long term deals for aging players (JV)… and in some cases breaking down aging players (Cabrera, VMart) that allow no flexibility to rebuild. They also signed a couple contracts that may end up being in the same vein (Upton, Zimmerman) in a couple years. That a lot of non-trade-able pieces when trying to rebuild


Comments are closed.