10 Reasons Why Detroit Tigers’ Brad Ausmus Will Succeed As Manager In 2014
10 Reasons Why Detroit Tigers' Brad Ausmus Will Be A Great Manager Right Away
After longtime Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland decided to hang up his spikes on Oct. 21, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski wasted little time in finding a replacement for him. The organization quickly interviewed Lloyd McClendon, Tim Wallach, Rick Renteria and former Tigers catcher Brad Ausmus. Less than two weeks after Leyland announced his retirement, Dombrowski had settled on the 44-year-old Ausmus.
Although Ausmus' managerial experience was limited to presiding over the ill-fated Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic and managing a couple of games for the Los Angeles Dodgers (a Joe Torre tradition at the end of each season), it was clear that Ausmus knocked Dombrowski's socks off during the interviewing process.
As a matter of fact, Dombrowski selected Ausmus even though he knew the other three candidates much better and they all had far more managerial experience. McClendon was part of Leyland's staff over the past eight years and had managed for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wallach had managed in the minor leagues and Dombrowski knew him from his playing days as he was the GM of the Montreal Expos back then, and he also knew Renteria from his time with the Florida Marlins. Renteria had also managed in the minor leagues and had held coaching positions in the major leagues as well, as did Wallach. But Ausmus simply made the biggest impression on Dombrowski.
Although everyone is aware that Ausmus knows the game of baseball inside and out, some are still somewhat concerned about his lack of managerial experience. Although other teams have brought in managers with little to no managerial experience in recent years, Ausmus' situation is particularly unique as he is being dropped into a situation where he is going to be expected to win. This will most certainly set him apart from his contemporaries.
Robin Ventura, for example, took over for the Chicago White Sox in 2012 after the White Sox were coming off of a sub .500 season. Mike Matheny took over for the St. Louis Cardinals after they were already coming off of a World Series title. Therefore, Ausmus is going to be under more pressure than both of these guys were. He has been given the task of helping a very good team, that has seemingly just never been able to put all of the pieces together, finally get over the hump and win their first championship in three decades.
The waiting period is nearly over as Spring Training is now underway. Ausmus will soon be showing what he is capable of doing, and there is absolutely no need to worry as the Tigers are in great hands. Without further ado, here are 10 reasons why Ausmus should succeed as manager of the Tigers in 2014.
10. He's Very Smart
Ausmus graduated from Dartmouth and was generally regarded as one of the smartest players in the game during his playing days. Being intelligent does not automatically mean someone is going to be a good manager, but it certainly couldn't hurt. Furthermore, he also has a very high "baseball IQ."
9. He Was A Catcher
Catchers just seem to make good managers. Leyland, Ausmus' predecessor, was a minor league catcher himself. It should also be noted that Matheny, who Ausmus will inevitably be compared to this coming season, caught for 13 years in the big leagues. Other notable catchers turned skippers who are currently managing include Joe Girardi, Bruce Bochy, Mike Scioscia and Joe Maddon.
8. He Knows How To Relate To His Players
During Ausmus' introductory press conference, he cited the fact that he is not too far removed from his playing days as one of his managerial strengths. He spoke of how as recently as 2010 he was mixing it up with the young Clayton Kershaw and the much older Manny Ramirez in the Dodgers' clubhouse. His familiarity with the clubhouse should make him a good leader, and the players will likely look up to him as a big brother or father figure.
7. Gene Lamont And Coaching Staff
Bench coach Gene Lamont and pitching coach Jeff Jones, two key members of the Leyland regime, will be returning as part of Ausmus' staff. Lamont will be particularly important. He and Ausmus have a friendship that stretches back to Ausmus' second stint with the Houston Astros, and he will likely be Ausmus' right-hand man. Lamont has managerial experience himself and nearly beat out Bobby Valentine for the Boston Red Sox managerial opening after the 2011 season. The Tigers have also added other highly qualified instructors to their coaching staff such as hitting coach Wally Joyner and infield coach Omar Vizquel.
6. He Has Played Under Great Managers
During the final two years of Ausmus' career, he played under the aforementioned Torre, and one can bet that he picked his brain about managing. Ausmus has also played under several other great managers such as Bochy, Larry Dierker, Jimy Williams and Phil Garner, and he has most likely gained something from each of them that will help him as he begins his managerial career.
5. Tony La Russa Gave His Seal Of Approval
Before Dombrowski offered Ausmus the managerial job, he had his longtime friend and legendary manager Tony La Russa have dinner with him to help vet him. After meeting with Ausmus and chatting for a while, La Russa gave his nod of approval. When a Hall of Fame manager who has won 2,728 games, six pennants and three World Series titles gives two thumbs up it can only be a good sign.
4. He Has A Real Closer
In sharp contrast to Leyland, Ausmus actually possesses the luxury of having a proven closer. He will not have to worry about giving the ball to Todd Jones, Fernando Rodney or Jose Valverde in the ninth. Instead, he will be handing the ball off to one of the best closers of the past decade in Joe Nathan.
3. Tigers' Core Remains Intact
Although the Tigers have lost Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, Joaquin Benoit and Doug Fister this offseason, the core of the team largely remains intact. Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera will each be a part of the 2014 Tigers.
2. He Has The Support Of Tigers Fans
Tigers fans are fiercely loyal and truly love their club. They are going to trust that Dombrowski made the right move and throw all of the support they have behind Mr. Ausmus.
1. He Is Ready To Win
Despite playing on some very good teams, Ausmus never won a championship as a player and would certainly love to do so as a manager. He understands that the expectations for the Tigers have changed radically since he last donned the Old English D in 2000. He also knows that he will be held to a high standard, and he will be ready to live up to it.