We’ll know more in the days and weeks to follow, but news broke late Saturday that the Tigers will finalize a deal with former catcher Brad Ausmus that will make him their next manager. I normally don’t give a lot of credit to people who “break news” like this in sports, but I will tonight because ESPN annoyingly referred to him as a “media report.”
On the face of it, I really like the move. I loved Brad Ausmus as a player and always thought highly of his baseball IQ. That said, he’s never managed at this level before and we just don’t know anything about his philosophical leanings or his ability to lead from the manager’s office. I’m not saying you have to hire a tried and true skipper, but I’m saying the untested are difficult to judge. Newsflash, I know.
Mike Matheny comes from the Ausmus tradition in that they’re about the same age and both filled similar roles in the big leagues before becoming first time managers. I don’t think that highly of Matheny as an on field manager, but that also tells me nothing about what Ausmus will do.
This is going to get repetitive quickly, but I just don’t know. Anyone who thinks they know is lying unless they’re Brad Ausmus or Dave Dombrowski. I’ll analyze his every move for you, but I won’t speculate. That’s not what we do here. I liked Ausmus as a player and think highly of him. For now, that’s all I’ll say. When he starts saying and doing things, I’ll write more about him.
I’ll leave you with a final thought. The best thing Ausmus can do at the beginning of this is to keep Jeff Jones. Jeff Jones makes a difference and knowing your personnel and how to get them to perform their best is critical. I normally harp on tactical stuff because that’s the stuff we can see, but when it comes down to it, making sure Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello maintain their improvements is way more important than calling on the right middle reliever at the right time.
And just in case you forgot, Brad Ausmus made the All-Star Game as a Tiger in 1999 courtesy of a .365 OBP and the team being awful. Even if Ausmus doesn’t work out as a manager, you’ve got to appreciate how much nicer it is to be a Tigers fan this time around.