News came this week that Ausmus will likely be fired at the end of the season.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone for two reasons. First, with a new GM usually comes a new manager and entirely new staff. Second, the team has terribly underperformed under Ausmus, especially this year where they are competing for worst record in the American League right now.
So the decision shouldn’t surprise you, but much like the Dombrowski firing, the timing is questionable and the way it is going down is terrible.
Apparently this was leaked to the news from a staffer, and the front office is denying just to save face. But I am sure the report is accurate. The question becomes, why did this staffer know? Why did the staffer know before Ausmus? Why did the staffer talk?
When Dombrowski was let go seemingly minutes after making some of his best trades during his reign, everyone, myself included, wondered what was going on. Rumors of Illitch getting angry and deciding to move on without consulting Dombrowski, firing him over the phone instead of in person, handling it so poorly in the media. It seemed like the old man was cracking. Now the Ausmus story seems to confirm it.
The question I have is how much of control of the team has been given to Chris Illitch, and is this his style of doing business?
This is not the Tiger’s way of doing things. This feels like a mid-90’s Yankees’ way of doing things. But, we might have to accept that this is now how the team will operate in the future.
So Ausmus is all but gone, fine. I doubt anyone will hate to see him go. There are talks that he is already being courted by the Padres, and good for him. I never saw much that I liked about him. In my opinion managers have only a couple of jobs. They keep guys fresh, they properly deploy a bullpen, they make sure the whole team is pointed in the same direction. I don’t think he did any of those things particularly well.
So who is next? Who will fill the role? Well, five years ago I would’ve definitively stated that since the Tigers had tried a rookie manager with no success, they would go after a high-priced big name guy next. And there are some guys out there, Gardenhire is probably the highest profile one, assuming he wants back into the game. But now I am not certain. It feels like money is becoming an issue, and since they are going to have to pay Ausmus to manage elsewhere (and he was very well paid), they might try their hand at another little known candidate, or one who has not had much success.
I would bet that the next manager of the Tigers will be Lloyd McClendon (rumored to be getting fired from Seattle), Alan Trammell or Kirk Gibson (interesting, right?), Gardenhire (6 division titles in 13 years in Minnesota with a shoe-string budget for 10 of those years), or Manny Acta (never found success in the big leagues but he is from the Dominican, and has good relations with latin players). There is an off chance that they do go back to a rookie manager, in which case I would guess Omar Vizquel (but after he signed off on several players being able to play shortstop last year and none of them could, I’m not sure he has a good eye for talent).
I’ve said it a million times, this is going to be an interesting offseason.