So this may seem a little late (I was busy, I’m sorry,) but it was announced on Sunday that the Tigers have made Brad Ausmus the 37th manager in the history of the franchise. After the success of older, established managers like Sparky and Leyland, the Tigers are taking a bit of a risk with the unknown of Ausmus.
Ausmus was a decent player, better behind the plate than at it, and he had an 18 year career with four different teams: Padres, Tigers (twice,) Astros (twice) and Dodgers. He just recently retired in 2010 and was serving as a special assistant in baseball operations before taking the managerial job. Ausmus has no major league coaching or managing experience, but he did manage Team Israel in the 2012 World Baseball Classic.
Also announced at the press conference was Gene Lamont returning to the team as the bench coach. I think that this is an important hire because it brings some coaching experience to the staff, and Lamont is a friend and trusted source of knowledge to Ausmus. This is what Ausmus had to say about his new bench coach:
He’s a good friend of mine and he’s been around the game for decades… It just so happened he was already here, but he’s the one I would have chosen regardless. Hopefully that will mitigate a little bit of the lack of experience, but what I think I bring to the job to make up for that is that I was just playing the game three years ago.
At the press conference another good decision was made by Ausmus, not making any sweeping changes:
We’re not going to re-invent the wheel here. This is a pretty darn good team. I’d be a fool to come here and try to make sweeping changes…I’m well aware you don’t generally get dropped into a situation like I will be this coming season with a team like the Detroit Tigers have…Very rarely is there a managerial team when a team is coming off a postseason appearance. It’s an exciting opportunity. I’m very fortunate
This is a big risk for the Tigers, bringing in a guy who has no experience, but Ausmus is a smart guy and being just out of the league still has knowledge of most clubhouses. According to GM Dave Dombrowski, things have changed for potential managers coming into the game now:
But (managing) is not the job it was 20 years ago. An ingredient more important today than ever is communication with the players…You need to be aware of contemporary times. You have to have a pulse of the game.
I think that this will end up being a good decision for the Tigers and Ausmus. This team is set up for the World Series again next season and Ausmus seems like he has a closeness to the players and the game to be able to push the right buttons with this team. He seems like a great hire right now, but when things start to get tough and losing streaks start it will be interesting to see how he handles the team, media and fans.