By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Today’s topic has everything to do with our manager and how he manages to survive this most significant of Tiger downturns. As we enter the All-Star break, it is anyone’s guess as to what the organization will do or not do.

As is the norm, Kurt and Holly have not shared their responses to the following topic; the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.

The start of the All-Star break is the traditional time for teams to make managerial changes in-season. What does the Tigers’ inaction tell us about the immediate future of the team?


I love writing about the Tigers but geez, this isn’t really what I had in mind. But as we hear time and time again around the league and especially here in Detroit, it’s baseball. But this isn’t the kind of baseball we like to talk about.

These don’t have to be dark days if things are done right. I mentioned in the spring that I felt a little jealous of the White Sox, a team that was collecting high-end prospects, while the Tigers sat and did nothing, thinking they had another shot at the playoffs.

Under Dave Dombrowski and Mike Ilitch, the Tigers had become one of the most active franchises in baseball when it came to building a team; but under Chris Ilitch and Al Avila, it is now a team sitting and waiting.

This is a team headed for transition, and I cannot stress it enough that they need to have the proper management in place to make sure the transition goes smoothly. The Tigers still have not made a move with Ausmus when they need it the most.
But should we be surprised?

Al Avila is behind his manager. Every time he speaks about his ballclub, he praises Brad. And that’s fine if your team is winning. But news flash, they aren’t winning anymore. So, this inactivity and lack of recognition of the right time to let Ausmus go, just speaks to the indecisiveness that has become commonplace at the highest levels of the organization.

I don’t think the Tigers have any intention of making a change before the end of the season. They don’t understand how important it is to make the change before the trade deadline.

Brad has been lauded for player development by Al Avila. So why on earth would we expect Ausmus to be kicked to the curb at this point? We shouldn’t if we have been paying any attention to how this club operates.

This inactivity simply signals business as usual, and there is no time for that.


(sigh) It is sad seeing this team “go under for the third time” but it is most upsetting seeing things take a decided downturn, especially in the visible sniping between the players and management – and a decision……not to make any decisions. It’s one thing if you take those first difficult baby steps in making changes and it’s a whole ‘nother story if you sit still and do nothing.

In the past week, we’ve seen the team take the express elevator down not just in the standings but also in the overall performance within all of MLB coupled with the two reports ranking Brad Ausmus as the 29th or 30th worst manager in baseball. And it brings to mind Darryl Rogers famous quote “What does a coach have to do around here to get fired?”

I’d like to believe there is a logical explanation in making no replacement and I can possibly see how Al Avila doesn’t think the timing is right or that it’s not wise to fire his manager while he is hoping to trade off some Tigers. But I can also point to the fact that he made zero personnel changes since assuming his job (which is atypical) and not even made any decisions worth noting since signing Jordan Zimmermann almost 2 years ago.

Avila’s decision not to make a change could also be his strategy in protecting his own job. Afterall, once a manager is fired, non-performance issues then laser-focus on the GM if problems are not resolved. And let’s also not forget that the Tigers have a history of not firing anyone and have a creepy tendency to allow failed managers to return and burrow back into the system for life.

Then there’s the issue of who would take over managing. The pickings are certainly very slim to none in-house which may also be a significant factor in their decision to stand pat.

But the continued trickle of info gradually leaking about the preparation for the sale of the team could also be a factor. (Stay tuned for a future blog on this.) Chris Ilitch could simply be wanting to leave things as clean and simple as possible for a new owner and if new ownership doesn’t come along immediately, allowing a contract to simply expire and not be renewed is the safest way to achieve the least amount of negative PR.

But in the meantime, unhappiness within the club continues to grow and at some point this summer, if it’s not addressed, it will only continue to grow more toxic.

There’s a lot of $$$ sitting at those lockers and from the visible evidence we’ve seen on national tv and read in the papers, the unhappiest of the lot is also 1 of 2 franchise faces, owed more than $184 million and not at all likely to be traded.

Expensive franchise players set the tone and allowing this bad relationship between Miggy and Brad to fester is not a good decision at all – and it will only continue to grow.

The appearance of waiting until the season is over in order to make changes is just another example of the team’s trademark lack of urgency. Half the season is left – a time in which they have the chance to reset the mood, try out an interim manager and most importantly, allow the players to refocus on their own performances. Performances that just may benefit the team in shedding some contracts over the winter, and potentially for better returns.

What the Tigers have to do going forward is a monumental task and it will take time. Time for them to stop sitting on their hands because there is a ton of work to do.

20 thoughts on “TOPIC FOR TUESDAY

  1. Ultimately, the question is who would take the job? The internal candidates might be favored by the FO, but would any of the fans be happier? Who outside the org would take the job, given the potential sale. I think Teflon Brad stays unless the turnstiles stop turning, and then they may need to bring in Tram and Gibby to keep the lights on.


  2. “The pickings are certainly very slim to none in-house…” I realize I am probably the only Lamont supporter in the world, but he did win a WS. I believe it was with an inherited team, but BA also inherited a pretty good team. One of them went all the way. Why does Mean Gene get so much blame and disrespect?


    • Horse ‘n buggy thinking is my guess. Nothing new … can today’s players respond to “been there – done that” ? Perhaps, since they didn’t respond to the new approach with BA.


  3. Brad is an enigma to me. Of all the managers I have watched since the late ’50’s, I can’t find a category for him. He doesn’t compare to anyone. He sits emotionless in the dugout, doesn’t wander back and forth and talk with the players; he makes excuses for them on a daily basis, and the players appear to not have bonded with him. Team attendance and statistics have crashed and yet he is still here.


  4. If no one offered the “right” deal in preseason trades. And now, again the asking price for our talent is too high nearing trade deadline (Verlander). Regardless a gutless self-shelter keeping of Brad, how on earth can ownership NOT lay the multi-season free fall of this club at the feet of Al Avila? They obviously think fans are dumb.


  5. Not because they don’t deserve it, but I am tired of all of the negativity every day with this club. I cut the TV cord this weekend with my satellite TV package. I no longer get the Fox Sports Detroit feed on Dish Network. The Tiger’s don’t deserve my money. I almost didn’t read this blog today, but I am hooked so I read it. Holly, you are right on in your next to last paragraph.


    • Hi, Robert – We feel your pain. Kurt and I would much rather write positive, inspiring stories but other than Michael Fulmer, what else is there? Articles are a reflection of what is going on currently and unfortunately, the Tigers have been fighting for last place and a record that currently mirrors their 2003 year. When good happens, we note it but let’s face it, this team is about to hit a significant period of transition whether we like it or not. Let’s all ride this out storm together, shall we? – Holly


      • The biggest problem the Tigers have had is a fan base/media that has severely overvalued their team due to misreading the teams stars/scrub approach and also because most Tigers fans haven’t been educated (blame this on DD) yet on much importance the sabermetric/advanced stats has on the game with placing a value on each players worth.


  6. In-house candidates are not great, but I don’t see any downside in replacing Brad immediately with Lloyd. If nothing else, it would be a change in emotion. If the Tigers continue their downward spiral, fine … the whole staff was (hopefully) going to be canned at season’s end anyway. If he finds a bit of success, it makes the rest of ’17 a bit more enjoyable.


  7. I think it is important to change managers asap. They can make a difference. Bud Black chewed out a young pitcher who was struggling -on the mound during a game – last week. This week 8 1/3 inning no hitter.


    • Do you believe “chewing out” a player makes them pitch better? There’s no proof that it would make a guy throw a baseball better.


  8. JD is the only trade chip with an urgent “sell by” date. As for the rest of the housecleaning, I don’t mind waiting until there is a new owner, and with any luck a more skilled broom wielder on the scene.


  9. A quick reminder to readers that comments are posted if they meet the rules outlined above the comment box and also under the “Rules” link. Posters seeking information that has already been published may use the “Search” box on the upper right hand side of this page to find all relevant blogs and comments.


    • I am wondering why Al Avila is immune to firing. They are paying three players millions of dollars to play for other teams, one of which is in our division. None were DD signings. The large contract to JZ right now looks particularly bad. Also, I am sad to see Alex Wilson has taken the place of Krod as a pitcher you cannot trust in close games.


      • Janvan99: I agree totally. Al gets no pass card from me and likely the high cost of those contracts he assigned to the sunk costs part of the Tigers ledger will come home to roost. I love the Tigers but this current version of management makes it hard to continue. We all know they suck right now. Just admit it, as well as past mistakes, and make changes. I will stay onboard and promise to continue to support the team despite it.


  10. Look to how The Red Wings have sat back, seemingly uninterested and allowed Ken Holland to singlehandedly destroy the other Illitch club. Why would one think Avila would be in any danger? This reference are pertinent to the ownership group’s lack of attention. And are very much in play with the Tiger situation. Ownership of both organizations seems uninterested….except for the bottom line now.


  11. this is so much like 17 years ago when Randy Smith was in charge… would think that AA should/would have after all those years learned something under DD but at this point doesn’t appear to be the case….the scouting dept needs to go as well…seems like the best thing at this point is to sell the team to someone who cares……personally I’d like to see Lance Parrish get a shot at managing.


    • Hi, Rick – You’ve asked that same question at least 3-4 times from us over the past week+. We’ve answered several times. The information can easily be found in the blogs and the comment sections. At this time, we suggest you use the search box located above if you are truly looking for the information. – TT


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