You will get no celebration from me now that the Detroit Tigers have FINALLY parted ways with their mimbo imbecile manager Brad Ausmus. I am not going to give Al Avila credit for doing something Dave Dombrowski should have done 1,083 days ago.
October 5, 2014. That’s the date the Dope from Dartmouth should have been handed his walking papers. The day the franchise was inexplicably swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS. An organization, mind you, that boasted a starting rotation of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, David Price and future Cy Young winner Rick Porcello.
An organization that was built to win right then and there hired a surfer dude with zero experience and basically no managerial ethos whatsoever. And the results were disturbing from almost day one. I believe that my first article warning you people about Ausmus’ bad Jim Leyland imitation was in July of his rookie year.
From jump street, Ausmus was basically a better looking version of Leyland — from his stubborn bullpen usage, to batting Don Kelly fifth in the lineup, to inserting losers second in the batting order who would then get DFA’d a week later.
Ausmus made two critical errors in 2014 when he had that loaded squad which included a Willy Wonka golden ticket by the name of J.D. Martinez. The first was his handling of Joakim Soria, whom the Tigers acquired at the deadline to solidify their perennially awful bullpen.
From the moment Dombrowski obtained Soria for two of the organization’s top five prospects (Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel) Ausmus was averse to using Joakim in high leverage situations. The sarcastic, condescending prick was under the impression that Joe Nathan and Joba Chamberlain were better late inning options than a dude having a career year and whom his own GM mortgaged the future to acquire.
Do you want to know how bad Ausmus’ handling of Soria was in 2014? Even Lynn Henning knew it was awful:
The other nonsensical error Ausmus made that season was his absolute refusal to utilize James McCann as his backup catcher in the postseason. Ausmus was the last person on Earth to realize that Alex Avila was a perfect platoon catcher who had no business hitting against lefties while McCann had crushed LHP in the minors that season and during his short stint in Detroit.
Ausmus’ usage of Soria in the last week of the season was an abomination and the reliever entered that Baltimore series ill-prepared to deal with Baltimore’s lethal bats.
(And don’t even get me started on how Ausmus treated Anibal Sanchez with kid gloves out of the ‘pen in that series. I mean, imagine if Ausmus and the Tigers didn’t baby Anibal coming off that injury. He might really have been awful for the duration of his contract. Oh. Wait.)
And McCann’s potential bat vs. lefties was sorely missed in the late innings of those games against a couple of southpaw relievers you MAY have heard of …..
Andrew Miller and Zach Britton.
After getting swept by an inferior Orioles team in 2014, THAT was the time for the Tigers to cut bait with Ausmus. He was clearly in over his head and not up for the gig. But it didn’t happen then and only after this team’s window slammed shut this summer — with the next few years looking as bleak as ever — did Avila finally pull the plug.
And please stop with this revisionist history that the team’s beat writers are spewing. You’d think Ausmus was handed the Randy Smith Era Tigers in 1997 or some shit based on the narrative spun by these dotards. In the four years of managing this team, Ausmus was provided with an average Opening Day payroll of 177 MILLION DOLLARS.
Most managers would give their left nut for the talent Ausmus oversaw in that clubhouse. I mean, look at what Peter Gammons Tweeted out earlier this afternoon:
Someone have Peter’s family check on him ….. I believe he might have had another aneurysm.
And yet, who fucking cares that he got axed NOW? This team stinks and the organization is going to be very, very bad for the foreseeable future.
Seriously, let’s take a look at what the 2018 Tigers might look like:
C — James McCann
1B — Miguel Cabrera
2B — Dixon Machado
SS — Jose Iglesias
3B — Jeimer Candelario
LF — Alex Presley/Christin Stewart???
CF — Mike Mahtook
RF — Nick Castellanos
DH — The Corpse of Victor Martinez/John Hicks
SP1 — Michael Fulmer
SP2 — Matt Boyd
SP3 — Jordan Zimmermann
SP4 — Daniel Norris
SP5 — Paws? Heather Park? Singing Hot Dog Guy?
Bullpen: Oh, for fuck’s sake, don’t even make me list those losers.
I mean, that’s a BAD, BAD, BAD team. Your best offensive player probably has chronic back issues and may or may not have fallen off the wagon and your ONLY good pitcher is coming off ELBOW surgery.
I like Candelario as much as the next Hymee™ (Jesse Jackson), but that team could be nearly as bad as the 2003 Tigers. Think about it: the Tigers are going to lose close to 100 games this season and they played half the year with Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, Justin Wilson and a rejuvenated Alex Avila, not to mention 57 games with J.D.
Other than the Candy Man, not oneof the prospects Avila received in trades this summer is ready to make a contribution in 2018 and their existing farm system guys are still two years from making a dent. Combine that with the fact that Scrooge McDuck Ilitch has no intention of entering the free-agent market this winter and you have the recipe for an epically horrific 2018 season.
And don’t forget this nugget …. even if some of the minor league prospects progress rapidly through the system and are ready earlier than projected there is no reason at all for the franchise to bring them up and start their service time clock prematurely. Avila is going to want those youngins to be under team control for as long as humanly possible.
This is a toxic combination that is going to lead to some extremely ugly baseball next year. And probably the following season as well.
Which is why who the manager of this team is for the next couple of years couldn’t matter less. Hell, part of me hoped the team would have kept Ausmus just to torture him during this rebuilding phase.
Until I read this:
This arrogant, smug, asshole wants you to believe he would have told Avila he was leaving IF the team’s GM offered him an extension? How dumb does this conceited shitbag think we are? There are only 30 of these gigs available and Ausmus would have jumped at a chance to stay EMPLOYED.
The only positive that I can come up with in this disaster is that Avila can FINALLY put his money where his mouth is and hire a sabermetrically inclined young manager. Avila loves to talk a big game about advanced metrics but there has been very little in the way of actual evidence that he is a true believer.
A second year for Mike Pelfrey, anyone?
Well, this is his shot. If he hires someone like Gabe Kapler (the Dodgers’ Director of Player Development) or Alex Cora (the Houston Astros bench coach) it will be direct evidence that he wants his next manager to pay stricter attention to lineup construction and high leverage bullpen usage.
And because this team is going to be really bad for a couple of years, Kapler or Cora could work out the kinks during the painful days ahead and gain valuable experience. Then, when Alex Faedo, Matt Manning and Franklin Perez are ready to return this team to contention, their manager will be fully prepared.
Something that Ausmus never was. When the Ivy League Imbecile was first hired by the team it was assumed by many Tigers fans (not me) that Ausmus would finally bring the team into the 21st Century after Leyland’s old-school approach had resulted in zero World Series rings in Detroit.
But from his opening press conference in Detroit, Ausmus clearly wanted to distance himself from the sabermetric movement. It’s almost like he didn’t want his brainy scholastic background to foreshadow how he’d manage this team.
And while the Tigers did utilize more shifts and bunt less during the Ausmus Era, he still insisted on stubborn bullpen roles, refused to fill out a mathematically based lineup card (V-Mart batting cleanup with a fucking HERNIA) and generally eschewed sabermetrics on a day-to-day basis.
Ausmus tried this moronic balancing act of trying to emulate Leyland while implementing the most basic of advanced metric strategy. And it left him in the middle of the god damn road.
Where shit like this happens ….
It’s terrible that Leyland had to witness that tragedy from that bench.
Anyway, the good news is I am guessing the next manager the Tigers hire will be someone I love.
The bad news is that it’s three years too late to make any difference.
(You can follow Moss on Twitter @JeffMossDSR. You can discuss this article on Facebook by clicking here. You can also go fuck yourself if you’d like. Totally up to you.)