By Jeff Moss
October 3, 2016
Earlier in the year, this website reported that a sickly Mike Ilitch had contacted Jim Leyland to gauge the former Detroit manager’s interest in replacing Brad Ausmus. This was in the midst one of the team’s extended losing streaks and the Tiger’s owner was becoming desperate to replace his third-year manager.
Leyland made it perfectly clear to the Ilitch family patriarch that he had no interest in returning to the dugout, especially in a situation where he’d be replacing his successor.
Naturally, the question arose of who you’d rather see manage the Tigers, Leyland or Ausmus. I was steadfast in my belief that Ausmus was a much better option going forward. And nothing during the 2016 season swayed my opinion that Ausmus is the superior in-game manager.
Unlike many people who read this website, I do not think that Brad Ausmus is the worst manager in baseball. That’s probably going to piss off some of my readers, but I have always been honest in this space and I never write anything I don’t believe.
In fact, after watching an ungodly number of baseball games this past month involving the Tigers playoff competition (Indians, Astros, Blue Jays, Mariners, Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, etc.) I am more convinced than ever that Ausmus is superior to many of his brethren.
Does this mean I am going to write an article suggesting that Ausmus should return in 2017 like reprobate Anthony Fenech or senile Lynn Henning? No. Of course not. I think Ausmus should be fired for reasons I will get to momentarily. But before I dig into that, I think we should recognize some areas where Ausmus DID improve in his third season.
One is sacrifice bunting. If there is one issue that pisses me off more than any other it is giving the other team free outs They are a precious commodity in the American League. Ausmus pretty much eliminated early-game small ball in 2016.
And while he did call for more sac bunts late in games than I would prefer, he was better than almost every other manager in the game. In fact, only three teams in MLB sacrifice bunted less than the Tigers.
My appreciation for Ausmus’ reluctance to bunt was only amplified further while watching Joe Maddon and Terry Francona order their #3 HITTERS (!!!!!) to bunt during the second inning of games in September.
So let’s give Ausmus credit for that at least.
It also seemed like Ausmus improved in year three when it came to utilizing high-leverage relievers in appropriate situations, especially in the second half of the season. Now, the sarcastic Ivy Leaguer wasn’t perfect when it came to bullpen usage in 2016, but there was SOME improvement.
Keep in mind that after the 2015 season, the more sabermetrically inclined front office, led by Al Avila, handed Ausmus notes regarding areas he needed to improve upon. It is my belief that these were two areas of concern and Ausmus did seem to improve SOMEWHAT.
So why do I believe that it should be three-and-out for Ausmus? Well, there are five reasons:
1] He is still terrible at lineup construction.
2] He displays an appalling lack of urgency from Game 1 to Game 162.
3] The team makes the same stupid mistakes over and over which leads me to believe they aren’t scared of repercussions and don’t respect the guy.
4] He is incredibly stubborn and continues to make incomprehensible in-game decisions.
5] There are BETTER options.
The issue with lineup construction might the most maddening since Ausmus has 24 hours to contemplate his best batting order for each game during the SIX-MONTH season and still has no fucking clue how to best utilize the offensive talent at his disposal.
While there is a movement among many organizations to abandon the traditional and counterproductive lineup construction, Ausmus continually went down with that ship in 2016.
Now, when the Tigers were 100% healthy, Ausmus’ decisions weren’t atrocious. Unfortunately for us and a dying Mike Ilitch, they were rarely healthy. And when Ausmus had to improvise it led to disastrous decisions.
Ausmus’ archaic notion that the number two hitter has to be a player with speed no matter the circumstances led to decisions like placing Mike Avlies, Andrew Romine, Tyler Collins and Jose Iglesias in that spot during the season.
I am not sure if Ausmus had an opportunity to notice during the constant shellacking his team received at the hands of the Indians this season, but there were many times that speed-impaired catcher/first baseman Carlos Santana actually batted leadoff for the Tribe.
And why did Francona do that?
Imagine that. It’s important to get Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez a greater number of ABs than MIKE AVILES OR TYLER FUCKING COLLINS!!!! What a radical thought.
When Cameron Maybin was injured and the team had limited options for the #2 slot, it was a fucking no-brainer to just move everyone up a spot in the order. This is something Ausmus simply could not comprehend.
While it wasn’t the only reason the Tigers struggled this season (OBVIOUSLY), it doesn’t take a Dartmouth graduate to understand that placing losers with career on-base percentages under .300 in front of Miggy and Victor Martinez isn’t optimal.
But these boneheaded decisions were only the tip of the iceberg regarding Ausmus’ main issue… an utter lack of urgency from April through September. This has been a constant feature since he took the helm in 2014 and, if anything, it actually got WORSE in ’16.
As evidenced by the backlog of teams still in playoff contention up until the final few days of the season, it is extremely apparent that the addition of the second wild card makes it a priority to accrue as many “W’s” as possible. Whether the game occurs in the first week of May or in the last week of September.
Incredibly, Ausmus hasn’t only failed to grasp the reality that games early in the season matter as much as the ones in the fall, he doesn’t even seem to understand in his own mind that games at the END of the schedule are crucial.
Like, you can’t even rip Ausmus for highlighting September games more than early season ones because he actually treats EVERY SINGLE CONTEST with minimal regard.
I am not sure if it’s his surfer boy mentality, but can SOMEONE, ANYONE explain his asinine decisions over the last few weeks of the season, which included, but wasn’t limited to, his repeated delusion that Jordan Zimmermann was a credible option to start meaningful games?
Or his apparent schizophrenia during the Royals game the Sunday before last where he vacillated between using a high-leverage reliever in the fourth inning (Shane Greene) and a pitcher who should have been shelved for the year (Mike Pelfrey) in the fifth?
In a crucial game that the Tigers offense kept creeping back into, Ausmus actually utilized Zimmermann. It might have been the first time in MLB history that a pitcher had to miss a SIMULATED GAME START because he was thrown into a playoff chase the day before.
Or how about his learning curve on determining when Anibal Sanchez was going to lose it or how long it took the dope to realize Mark Lowe was no longer a high-leverage bullpen option?
Fuck, Ausmus’ abominable performance in Toronto the weekend before the All-Star break should have cost him his job. I don’t know about you, but those games against the BLUE JAYS sure seem pretty important in retrospect. But who could have guessed that then? Oh right, everybody but Ausmus.
I could go on and on about situations where Ausmus couldn’t adapt to situations in real-time, or break down his lack of knowledge about the opponent’s exploitable issues but if you can’t comprehend that Ausmus’ laid-back, almost comatose demeanor doesn’t seep into his team’s psyche, I guess you’ve never watched them run the bases.
Which leads me to the sycophantic, cuckolded apologists for Brad Ausmus who have gone on a public relations tour over the last few days regarding the manager’s continued employment.
I am specifically talking about Henning, Fenech and Debbie Downer himself, Chris McCosky. All three of these cunts have written glowing articles in the last few days about Ausmus’ job status and championed his return for a fourth season.
Their behavior is actually even more disgusting than the Tigers’ failure to reach the postseason with a $200 million payroll while a flawed team like the Orioles (check out their starting rotation and then try not to vomit) accomplished the feat in a much tougher division.
We will go in order of publication date, starting with the drunk-driving, sexual-harassing, stalker Fenech. Check out this utter nonsense out from “The Beast’s” drivel ….
What the fuck does that even mean? Ausmus is 2-for-3 in putting the Tigers in position to win a World Series? Ummm, they MISSED the postseason in two of those three years. And in the ONE season they did make the playoffs, he somehow couldn’t win a game against a Baltimore Orioles team missing Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters. When HIS starting pitchers were David Price, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
In three seasons and with over $500 million in team salary, Brad Ausmus hasn’t won ONE playoff contest. And this walking, talking, breathing zit has the audacity to tell us that Ausmus has put the franchise in position to twice win the World Series?
Like, how does this human pimple still have a job? Is the paper worried he will sue them for sexual harassment because he used to fuck one of his superiors (Stefanie Murray) in the newspaper’s parking lot?
Fenech then attempted to use Ian Kinsler as a character witness for Ausmus by using some quotes in his article from the team’s second baseman. The comments were a tepid endorsement AT BEST.
And it appears that Fenech cherry-picked Kinsler’s thoughts because this is what Kinsler was quoted as saying on Sunday:
If he’s our manager, he our manager? Seriously, one of Fenech’s main points in his article was the support from a guy whose testimonial for Ausmus included the line “the grass isn’t always greener.”
Ted Cruz‘s eventual endorsement of Donald Trump was more compelling. I’ve never read a more lukewarm supporting statement in my life. Hostage videos appear more sincere than Kinsler’s remarks.
And then Henning jumped into the fray yesterday with his own defense of Ausmus that included a bonus admonishment of the fanbase for having expectations that were too high.
Right, because enjoying a minimum $70 million payroll advantage over the rest of the teams in your division shouldn’t come with an added level of anticipation.
This was Henning’s second such Ausmus defense in the last couple of weeks with the first one appearing as a blatant public relations release from the Tigers organization with Henning’s byline attached.
It is quite evident the front office was attempting to grease the skids in the event that they decided to bring Ausmus back and they used Henning as their vehicle to float this trial balloon.
Seriously, if Henning would have displayed love for his first wife in the same manner he has been showing it for Ausmus lately, maybe she wouldn’t have divorced him without giving him any prior notice. Maybe she just wasn’t satisfied sexually. Can anyone imagine Henning being good at cunnilingus?
I wonder when wife #2 will wise up, pull a similar Gloria Unger move and dump this loon.
Who in the world believes that Ausmus is one of the game’s better-regarded skippers? ANYONE?
And if those two articles weren’t enough, McCosky came over the top of both of these imbeciles with one of the most offensive articles I have ever read. This piece-of-shit hype man for every manager or coach he has ever covered is an absolute disgrace to journalism. But his column Monday took the cake.
Seriously, someone actually wrote that Ausmus was “brilliant” in all aspects of managing. And “Officer Barbrady” penned this piece AFTER getting called out NUMEROUS times this year for being an apologist for Ausmus ….
…. by George Hunter. The well-respected crime reporter who works for the same newspaper as McCosky.
Yep. McCosky BLOCKED his own co-worker on Twitter because he labeled him an Ausmus apologist. And what was McCosky’s retort? He wrote a 2,200-word puff piece today blowing Ausmus.
I mean, McCosky somehow even twisted Ausmus’ decision to let Mike Pelfrey pitch to Brian Dozier a few weeks ago (Dozier hit a home run) as a positive even though Dan Dickerson, Jim Price, Mario Imbemba, Rod Allen and Kirk Gibson ALL ripped the move.
Think about it. People ostensibly being PAID by the Tigers are more critical of Ausmus than the Detroit News‘ beat writer. I don’t think Ausmus’ wife or mom could have provided a more full-throated defense of Brad if they tried.
I am going to take a break from shredding McCosky for a second and let Fangraphs’ contributor Neil Weinberg take a swing at this piñata ….
Neil is a gentleman and would never say anything like what I am about to say so let me finish this off. A couple of years ago, McCosky wrote an article in the News where he claimed he once considered driving his car into oncoming traffic so he could end his life.
I stated that I thought that was very selfish. What did the other unsuspecting driver do to deserve such a fate? My suggestion was McCosky should have picked a lake, any lake, in that area to drive into, thus sparing an innocent bystander.
At this point, I will volunteer to be that other motorist. I will take one for the team so you good people won’t have to read this SHIT any longer. This is our “Baby Hitler” moment and I am ready to go back in time and sacrifice myself.
Seriously, though … WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? I have seen more dignity watching “The Bachelor.” It’s like these three bootlickers are vying to get in the fantasy suite with Ausmus.
And the one universal defense of Ausmus from this triumvirate of trash is this constant lament that the Tigers suffered an inordinate number of injuries compared to other teams in baseball and Ausmus was a miracle worker for keeping the team in contention.
This totally ignores the fact that teams like the Indians, Mets and Rangers all made the playoffs while experiencing similar or WORSE issues …
— Mark Conant (@MarkConant) October 4, 2016
Yep. Keep banging that bullshit drum even though SOME of the team’s injuries were beneficial in that they allowed Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd to get some run.
Brad Ausmus shouldn’t be the only one filing for unemployment this week. These three piles of human debris should be in line right behind him. And man, what a traffic jam there would be up Brad’s sphincter if that occurred.
“Triple nasal” penetration.
Almost as impressive as spinning that Ausmus is some brilliant tactician.
To be continued on Tuesday’s DSR Podcast ….
(You can follow the writer of this piece on Twitter @JeffMossDSR. Also, you can join in on the discussion of this article on Facebook by clicking here.)