Tigers Make A Dramatic Change With Brad Ausmus
Another school of thought will look at the current construction of the roster and make the conscious decision to ride it as long as it lasts before going with a younger manager who, like Ausmus, has no experience in spite of a solid resume. Could the Tigers, as currently built, have just stuck an empty manager’s uniform at the end of the dugout (think Bob Brenly with the Diamondbacks) and still won? Probably. But that would have been a disposable manager and clearly Dombrowski wants someone long-term.
The simplest decision for Dombrowski would have been to keep the Leyland staff intact and shift Gene Lamont over as the new manager. He's managed in the big leagues and wouldn’t screw it up. With Ausmus, they’re said to be keeping Lamont as the bench coach. Pitching coach Jeff Jones’s fate has not been determined. It would be unfair to Ausmus to saddle him with all of Leyland’s coaches. Knowing Leyland, he was probably most concerned about the fates of his coaches when he retired, but the Tigers are not beholden to keeping Lloyd McClendon and Rafael Belliard on the staff.
As for the players, look at their core. Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Anibal Sanchez are signed and going nowhere. For 2014, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter are signed. If they’re going to win under their current template, it has to be with these players as their centerpieces. After 2014, they could start to alter the club and change on the fly without Martinez and Hunter and consciously try to get younger. But for 2014, the Tigers will be the same team they were under Leyland.
This strategy appears to be giving Ausmus a team that won’t require much work and he’ll be able to learn on the job until he actually does have to do some managing with fewer stars and younger players. Dombrowski has been a GM long enough to deserve the benefit of the doubt for a surprising hire. That doesn’t mean that the critical acclaim that the hiring of Ausmus is receiving is deserved as of yet.