‘I’m all for him,’ Inge said. ‘If you had asked me at the beginning of the season, I’d say he had to be harsher. But now I’m seeing it. I’m seeing him develop. He’s getting harder on people.’
And did he need to get harder?
‘Absolutely,’ Inge said. ‘I’m not backing him now for no reason. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t believe it. But the way things have been handled toward the end of the season, he’s done a great job. I think he can be a great manager. Actually, I know he can be.
‘I’d be sorry (to see him go). His progress from the second half on has been tremendous.’
‘In putting his foot down, in his clubhouse managing, getting respect,’ Inge said. ‘Bottom line, I hope he’s with us. I really do.’
This was in Tom Gage’s game report from last night. It is nice to see someone in the clubhouse go on the record about Alan Trammell. But Inge’s comments got me thinking about Tram’s demeanor. One of the reasons people were skeptical about Trammell as manager as that he was too nice. Trammell couldn’t be a hard-ass, and guys might not listen to him. Inge’s comments seem to support that notion, but is it because Tram didn’t have the capacity to be harsh or was he not being harsh because he expected more from his players?
Think back to Alan Trammell the player. Do you think at any point in his career Sparky had to sit him down and tell him how to act? How to be a professional? Can you ever recall anybody questioning his effort, intensity, or preparation? Alan Trammell was the consumate baseball player because that’s who he was. Maybe one of the problems is that he expected his players to behave the same way. Or, he expected that he could be the quiet leader like he was as a player where guys would follow his lead. Unfortunately, while he was still putting on the uniform, he wasn’t able to step between the white lines and show them how to play.
Now during his playing days there had to have been some malcontents on those Tiger teams. By and large I would guess one of two things would happen to those players. One, they would be shipped out if possible. Trammell tried that approach this year. Alex Sanchez was cut. Omar Infante was benched. Carlos Pena was demoted.
In the cases where a player couldn’t be moved in the old days there were some other strong personalities (Gibson, Morris, Parrish) who simply wouldn’t tolerate it. There were enough leaders of like mind who grew up together that other players were forced to comply. Who are those guys on this Tiger team? Perhaps Trammell wasn’t harsher hoping that the players would police each other.
Now this is all conjecture on my part because I have no idea what happens in the clubhouse. This is just my take based on the various published reports.
I’m not trying to absolve Trammell. Afterall, it’s his job to lead this team and if he gave the players too much credit early on that proved to be a mistake on his part. But I’m not going to fault Trammell for being too nice. The fault as I see it is that he misread the personalities and situation in the clubhouse. Trammell couldn’t lead by example as manager the way he could as a player, and the group of strong personalities weren’t as cohesive as his days as a player.