Detroit Tigers GM Al Alvila made the announcement that Tiger manager Brad Ausmus will not return next season as the manager of the Tigers. It’s an announcement that has been expected by Tiger fans. For the most part it was a bad move from the beginning. Ausmus never had a chance from the start. Detroit is a sports town and its fans are knowledgable as well. They were never comfortable with Ausmus from the beginning.
Brad Ausmus liked to read. Almost from the beginning, that intellectual pursuit worked against him outside the ballpark. That and his Ivy League background. Fans like smart. But a certain kind of smart. Which meant Ausmus was forever managing against his image. Well, he won’t have to worry about that anymore. Not that he ever did. As he told reporters Friday afternoon after the team announced he wouldn’t be back next year, developing thick skin is critical to surviving the dugout. If nothing else, Ausmus leaves our city knowing he rarely took anything personal. At least not publicly.
Before Brad Ausmus arrived, Jim Leyland haunted this city. In 2006 Leyland was the hero. Seemingly every year after, he was made the villain. Looks like Ausmus is on track to get the axe as well in Tigertown. To be honest, it’s not all his fault. This is the team he inherited that was basically put together by the previous GM and owner. The team now sits in last place in their division with a 36-45 record at the midpoint of the season. It will be interesting to see how many of players will be dealt by the trading deadline.
As the 2017 season unfolds, one has to wonder how long the Detroit Tigers will be in contention. As far as the batting is concerned, on paper, the Tigers have a formidable group with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Nick Castellanos, Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler and J.D.Martinez. The starting pitcher led by Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmerman and Mike Fulmer appears to be serviceable, however, the bullpen is a big question mark. Closer Fransisco Rodriquez has been demoted in favor of left-hander Justin Wilson. If the Tigers are going to do anything, the bullpen has to get it together.
One thing in their favor is playing the AL Central, where all five teams are bunched close together in the standings. Minnesota leads the division by only 3 percentage points over Cleveland and one game over the Tigers. The last place team (Kansas City) is only 5 and half games out.