Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Analysis on Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus.

Brad Ausmus was considered “the outsider” to replace Jim Leyland as the Tigers skipper. When news of his interview with GM Dave Dombrowski got out, most considered it a formality, because Ausmus was rumored for both the Nationals and Cubs vacant openings, nothing more.

Dave Dombrowski said all along that he wanted experience in his new manager, and that person to be someone that he was familiar with.

Taking a look back at the candidates who interviewed for the job:

Rick Renteria- a former major-league infielder, Renteria worked with Dave Dombrowski as a manager in the Marlins organization until he was hired by the San Diego Padres in 2003, and has been the Padres bench coach since 2011.  He considered to be the front-runner for the Cubs vacancy, now that Ausmus has been hired*.

Lloyd McClendon - Former Pirates manager and Tigers hitting coach since 2007 and was a member of Leyland’s staff since ’06.  Played in the majors from 1987-1994.  Was named Manager of the Seattle Mariners on November 5, 2013

Tim Wallach- the former MLB infielder was a member of the Montreal Expos during Dombrowski’s time with the team.  Has coached in the Dodgers organization in the minors and majors, since 2004, and has been bench coach since 2010. 

Brad Ausmus- ended up getting the job, despite one perceived weakness, no previous relationship with Dave Dombrowski.  One of the keys, to Ausmus getting the job, however was the close relationship he does have with Gene Lamont (more on that in a minute).

Brad Ausmus strengths as Dombrowski indicated were his intelligence (went to college at Dartmouth) his leadership, and communication skills- he taught himself to speak Spanish, which will come in handy on a Tigers roster with many Spanish fluent players.

Getting back to Lamont’s influence, he was a finalist for the Boston Red Sox job last off-season, losing out to John Farrell.  If Lamont had been given the job, he has already spoken to upper management in Boston about adding a young coach to his staff, to mentor as the bench coach- Brad Ausmus. Now, one-year later, Ausmus returns the favor keeping Lamont as a hold-over from Leyland’s 2013 staff.

Speaking Ausmus’ staff, it was announced on Thursday, Jeff Jones will also remain on staff as the Tigers pitching coach and coming over from the Houston Astros is 3rd Base coach/OF instructor is Dave Jones. 

With Lloyd McClendon being hired as the Seattle Mariners manager, leaving Tom Brookens as a man without a role on Ausmus staff. Detroit is still looking for a 1B coach and possibly another hitting instructor, but it is doubtful that Ausmus will retain any more of Leyland’s former staff. 

I believe that Ausmus will be a good change to the Tigers for 2014.  He is young enough to be able to relate to the influx of younger players that the front office has started to bring in, as the average age climbs.

I anticipate that Ausmus will do a fine job of relating to the players, as he just retired 3-years ago. He will also take his intelligence and start to “fuse” the more old-school type style of Leyland with some of the current metrics that clubs are using to evaluate talent, something that Leyland didn’t necessarily take advantage of.

His strengths will be working with Jeff Jones in handling the pitching staff, which should remain to be stocked, and Dombrowski has stated that he intends to have a proven closer at the back end of the bullpen, something that Leyland had to struggle with his last season.  He will also excel at communicating with both veterans and younger players and with his ability to speak Spanish; there will be nothing “lost in translation”.

Ausmus lack of experience as a game manager will also be offset by a quality coaching staff, led by bench coach Gene Lamont.  The 2014 Tigers will expect to contend for a World Series, and like 2013 not getting there will be a disappointment. Expect this team to also be better in some of the nuances of the game such as limiting base running errors and errors on defense.

*- Hired as Cubs Manager on Nov 6, 2013

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