The Brad Ausmus Era Begins

The Tigers have not officially announced it, but all signs point to Brad Ausmus as your new manager. From what I can tell, this guy out of Houston broke the news.

Though the home opener next March against KC will be the first game that Ausmus ever manages, this is a hire that I’m excited about. Ausmus has a tremendous baseball brain, as he spent 18 years in the majors, including two stints with our Tigers. He was a hot candidate this off-season, making the rounds with the Cubs and Nationals. Some are already drawing parallels to Mike Matheny in St. Louis, a former catcher who was a rookie manager in 2012. All he’s done in 2 seasons with the Cards is go to game 7 of the NLCS and game 6 of the World Series.

Ausmus made the All Star team with the Tigers, in 1999 (which means he beat out Tony Clark & Dean Palmer) and won 3 gold gloves later in his career.


146 thoughts on “The Brad Ausmus Era Begins”

  1. Fun fact that I learned from the comments on MLB Trade Rumors: in the Colorado Rockies expansion draft they took three catchers: Eric Wedge, Joe Girardi, and Brad Ausmus. Pretty good stockpiling of future managers!

    1. “Plenty of really smart people have failed even though they were imminently qualified.”

      Plenty of smart sentences fail as well.

      “Imminently qualified” could be used as a clever putdown.

      1. “Imminently qualified” is a funny way to put it. I think the writer meant something else.

        A trio of frequently confused words is eminent, imminent, and immanent. Eminent means ‘outstanding, famous’: : the book was written by an eminent authority on folk art. Imminent means ‘about to happen’: : people brushed aside the possibility that war was imminent. Immanent, often used in religious or philosophical contexts, means ‘inherent’: : he believed in the immanent unity of nature taught by the Hindus.

  2. Does anyone know what his managerial philosophy is? All the saber devotees seem to love him, which is great by me, but I’d love to hear from him directly.

    1. I think all we have to go by is whatever he has told teams in interviews, which we don’t know, but apparently it must have sounded good.

  3. BRAD Ausmus +1…..keep Lamont as a bench coach…..keep Jeff Jones as pitching coach…keep Bellliard as a ” hispanic connection”…..get rid of everyone else and start fresh. First priority find a third base coach that does not have suicidal tendencies!!!………

    1. Am I in an alternate universe? I can’t imagine any situation where any of the old coaches would stick around, nor can I imagine why you’d want any of them to.

      1. I think Ausmus is so young and fresh that a) he doesn’t have his own team in place and b) I’m guessing that DD and co strongly suggested that Ausmus keep a few of the old codgers around.

      1. It makes sense to retain Lamont for the transition since he familiar with the personnel. I like the suggestion of Ausmus being a “baseball brain”. I often complained about the team not playing smart baseball. Maybe Ausmus can teach these old Tigers some new tricks.

        1. It makes sense from another perspective too: If the team really sucks next year, it’d be easy for DD to fire Ausmus and make Lamont manager. *shudder*

  4. A sane, rational 21st Century Man who will use computers and logic when making out lineups and game-decisions. A new day has dawned.

        1. Ausmus appears to be a guy, as well. A deep sense of kinship has been stoked with the guys here, I’m sure.

    1. Cincy has made a qualifying offer, so whoever wants him will have to willing to give up a draft pick.

        1. If they truly go the FA route for a LF, he’d be shut out for ’14. After Hunter goes, he could be a potential starter in ’15. I don’t think having him on the bench makes much sense as he he should be playing every day and is only 22. Another season of AAA wouldn’t hurt; it’s not like he was tearing the cover off the ball at Toledo last year. On the other hand, if they want to take advantage of his “potential”, packaging him, say with Porcello, should bring a nice return. With the wholesale changes going on this off-season, that wouldn’t surprise me at all.

          1. I think they should either go with Castellanos in LF, “his job to lose,” or trade him now. They need to find out about Nick in Detroit, not Toledo. Don’t see another year in AAA happening. A move to RF for Castellanos after Hunter is not to my liking, Prefer a splurge in RF after Hunter, and who’s to say Hunter can’t be productive another couple years beyond 2014?

  5. Vince made an interesting comment over yonder that raises the question of how much influence Ausmus is going to have over the offseason departures and acquisitions.

  6. MLB Trade Rumors:

    “In his free agent profile for McCann, Tim predicted that an American League team would be comfortable going to five years and $80MM for McCann.”

    I don’t think the Tigers are that team. I wouldn’t be comfortable with that in their position.

    1. What AL team would spend that kind of money/years for McCann, or any catcher for that matter? That would seem to be outside the range of any re-building team, which leaves who exactly. Angels, Yankees and Red Sox maybe, as they are the big spenders.

  7. It sounds like the Tigers going after a free agent closer is a foregone conclusion. I have no opinion on who they go after there, just hope they free up the money by letting Benoit walk.

    For the positions that might be open to some big free agent splash – C, 2B, CF, and in the eyes of some, LF – I’m not seeing anything worthwhile. Worth the commitment in long multi-year contracts over $14 million/year, that is. McCann, Cano, Ellsbury, Granderson, Choo… no, no, no, no, no. I think I would resign Infante and consider making Jackson and Avila part of trades for bullpen and bench pieces.

    1. If you trade Avila and Jackson for spare parts/pitching, where do our new CF and C come from if not FA.

      1. Dirks in CF and Holaday at C. It depends on the quality of the spare parts/pitching obtained. You might not think Dirks & Holaday plus a functioning bullpen and bench is a winner at least on a par with 2013, and you could be right, but I would be willing to take that chance,

        1. OK, with that scenario you are talking about a potential youth movement opening day starting nine of:
          C: Holaday
          1B: Fielder
          2B: Perez
          3B: Cabrera
          SS: Iglesias
          LF: Castellanos
          CF: Dirks
          RF: Hunter
          DH: Martinez.

          Lineup, please.

          1. OK, I’m inviting scorn and ridicule here, but I may be doing that more often than I think to begin with:

            Caveat: I think they pursue and sign Infante. I don’t think Avila gets traded, but I think Holaday could start quite a bit more than 1 in 4 games, so I’ll put him in this lineup, especially since I claim that I *would* trade Avila. Plus, I’d bat Avila no higher than #8 no matter what.

            CF Dirks or 2B Infante (matchup or best man wins scenario)
            1B Fielder
            3B Cabrera
            DH Martinez
            RF Hunter
            2B Infante or CF Dirks
            LF Castellanos
            C Holaday
            SS Iglesias

            If Infante gets away:

            SS Iglesias
            CF Dirks
            1B Fielder
            3B Cabrera
            DH Martinez
            RF Hunter
            LF Castellanos
            C Holaday
            2B Perez

            1. At first glance it doesn’t look too impressive offensively, but I guess a new hitting coach will help. And the small ball will improve. And we won’t be 29th in team defense again. And the new lock-down bullpen won’t be surrendering any 1-run leads.

              1. There is a lot of movement in the player market this year. The Tigers are in flux, but not rebuild mode (in the sense that they will be willing to go with 4 unknowns in the batting order), so DD will deal and go to FA to fill some spots; more than just spare parts and bullpen. Does Scherzer go? Does Porcello go? Who do these guys bring back if they are traded? I think Jackson and Avila stay, they are comparatively cheap after all, but one of them could be part of a blockbuster trade. I seriously doubt they will get into the McCann bidding war, for example, so Avila is likely safe. Castellanos is more likely to be traded than Jackson, IMO. Then there is the Ausmus factor: does he go to DD and say “I want these guys” and DD gets them (this is what happened when Leyland came on board I think, but they had a long-term relationship), or does DD get the guys first and then say “here you go Brad”? Maybe something in-between? How much input Ausmus has, we don’t know. DD has been cleaning house, but how much of it has been shipped off to Goodwill and how much (if any) will be refurbished and brought back is also an unknown. The possible number of scenarios is mind boggling at the moment. The only thing I am 99.9% sure of is that the above lineup won’t be on the field opening day 2014.

              2. Oh, you can make it 100% sure. A November 5 “prediction” wouldn’t stand a chance. Just putting my cards on the table here so I can keep track of them. The Tigers are going to reshuffle that deck numerous times before ST 2014.

  8. baseball $$$$ is so out of control that there basically are no bargains out there….The Tigers are not that far away to start with. They could stand pat and be 1 or 2 in the AL as it is. We would all like to see a little upgrade in a couple spots, but….to get something you have to give something!!

    1. Yeah, the $$$ are taking the fun out of it. The qualifying offer stands at $14 million, and guys around 30 or older are looking for contracts of ridiculous length. It would be one thing if you get a McCann or an Ellsbury for a couple years even at some steep price, but you can’t.

      The bargains, such as they are, are in the “lesser” free agents. Like Victorino last offseason, or Infante this one. I don’t see any great value at C or CF for the Tigers in this pool, but a closer look might reveal something.

      For acquisitions, I’m thinking along the lines of loading up on pitching, bullpen and overall depth, and also bench and position player depth. I’m not thinking splashy “win now” signings. With a bullpen, they could already win now. I’d like them to keep winning, or at least contending, 2015 and beyond. I’m looking beyond 2014.

  9. Trade Avila.????…now lets see ..which team is looking to trade for the worst throwing, worst fieldind, can’t run, poor hitting, strikeouts out 175 times, and can’t hit any left handed pitcher on the planet….ok lets start lining these teams up to make an offer!!!!!!#

      1. Plenty of teams would be interested in Avila (especially SN$’s theoretical team). He’s better at throwing out runners than 2013 shows, at least average and probably better as receiver/defender, and his career average offense is quite acceptable for his position considering the aforementioned. We throw tomatoes at him for not living up to the potential of 2011, but other teams still see that potential. As do the Tigers, most likely.

        With Ausmus as the new manager, I think the slim chance of Avila being traded has become about none.

    1. Oh man! There goes the offense. Jackson, Hunter, Cabrera, Fielder, Martinez, and Infante are doomed without their leader.

      1. I’m hoping that all of Leyland’s coaches go away, all but Jones. Not really getting why the Tigers would need Belliard as a “Hispanic connection,” or why any team would need such a thing. Seems vaguely patronizing.

  10. Penciling it in:

    C – Avila/Holaday (Martinez)
    1B – Fielder (Martinez, Cabrera)
    2B – Infante (Perez)
    SS – Iglesias (Perez)
    3B – Cabrera (Iglesias)
    LF – Castellanos (Dirks) or maybe Castellanos/Dirks
    CF – Jackson (trade?) or Dirks
    RF – Hunter (Dirks)
    DH – Martinez
    OF – 1 or 2 from: Dirks/Quintin Berry-Aaron Hicks*/Nate McLouth*
    IF – 1 or 2 from: Perez/Worth*/Will Middlebrooks*/Nick Franklin*
    Current favorite: Perez/Berry/McLouth

    * Type.

    SP – Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez, Fister (trade?), Smyly, (Alvarez?), depth to improve
    RP – Inevitable Free Agent Closer, Rondon, Ortega, Alvarez… 3 spots to fill and much depth to improve

    Best trade pieces: Porcello, Fister, Smyly, Alburquerque, Jackson, Avila, Castellanos.

    Painless trades: Porcello, Alburquerque, Avila, Castellanos.

    Ask for the moon: Smyly, Fister, Jackson.

    Let go: Benoit, Santiago, Kelly, Worth, Coke.

    Name free agents to pursue: Aside from Infante and Inevitable Closer, none.

    That’s the November 5 plan. One move from the Tigers will probably – no, *certainly* upset this applecart and force some adjustment.

    1. I should probably add that I’m not a big fan of the moves so far, aside from Ausmus as manager. Change is good, change is fine, but I foresaw some other changes to begin with. I might well have hung onto Pena, Tui, Veras, and Downs myself.

  11. kind of funny to me that one of the worst batting teams in all of baseball hires Lloyd to straighten them out…I hope for Lloyd, being a really nice guy that he is, that he does well as a manager..

  12. Benoit has done what the Tigers have asked him to do two straight years. And he has done it well….pay him his money and keep him!

    1. Except for “don’t give up a grand slam to David Ortiz that will lose the game and turn the ALCS.”

      1. *Three* straight years from Benoit. I should be sold. I watch him pitch, and quite often I’m just not. I’m probably wrong. He could go back to setup man duty and be part of some 1-2 knockout punch for the Tigers in 2014, probably. So why did he have to cut my heart out and step on it in Game 2 of the ALCS? Why? And then he has the nerve to say it’s not his first rodeo (which I understand completely, actually).

        I’m going to willfully hold a grudge.

    2. Being back Valverde. Sign Rodney. Sign Balfour. You think the Bad Boy Pistons irritated people? Can you imagine how irritating it would be going down to those 3 guys, back to back to back? I say go for it!

        1. So *this* is the reason you’re jonesing for Phillips. Dave Clark has started a pop/rock avalanche.

    1. yes, great article, especially loved the “Murph” story. Not positive but I don’t think he ever made it to the show.

    2. The point comes in the last two paragraphs, and although he doesn’t come right out and say it, the Tigers have been behind the curve of New Baseball for quite some time. Leyland was already a dinosaur when they hired him eight years ago. The fact that DD stuck with JL’s ’70’s style (by the “book”, stats-averse, etc.) for so long says says something about his philosophy as well. Hopefully hiring Ausmus isn’t just a fashionable change and the front office is actually moving into the modern era.

  13. According to Tigers’ Facebook page, Jeff Jones is back. Brookens is gone: new 3B coach is Dave Clark (and he’s Glad All Over).

    1. that song knocked “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (I think…may have been “She Loves You”) out of the number 1 spot.

      useless music trivia for the day.

          1. Ahead of the curve: This is likely the only Tigers blog with people who actually remember the Dave Clark Five. We’re not just older than the players now, but older than the sportswriters as well.

              1. I read a statistic recently where only something like 20% of the US population has ever used a typewriter. Let’s get a shout out to white out!

              2. I loved typewriters. I was forced to admit that word processing software was cooler, though.

                White Out. Connection with a contemporary of Dave Clark there for those of us with a penchant for factoids and trivia.

  14. having a QUALIFIED latin or hispanic coach on staff on a team where almost half of your players are latin or hispanic isn’t patronizing at all…This isn’t 1950 Brooklyn anymore.

      1. I’m not singling anyone here out, because it’s a widespread thought, and my critique is of the idea.

        Communication in baseball does not require higher-level language skills. There are Japanese and Korean players with interpreters. You don’t need to make these interpreters coaches (and teams do not). Point being that for special roles requiring a certain ombudsman for matters of language and culture, teams can hire such ombudsmen without putting them on the field.

        Hispanic is a pretty broad brush. Venezuela is not Cuba is not Mexico is not Puerto Rico. I wouldn’t have some expectation that a team with guys from 5 different English-speaking countries would see me as “one of them” because I speak English.

        I’ve spent my entire working life working for and with people who are, predominantly, considerably different from myself. I would find it patronizing to have it suggested that I needed someone “like me” (or who simply looked something like me) as a go-between or sounding board or motivator in order to function better as a member of a team.

  15. Supposedly Brandon Philips is as good as gone in Cincinnati. The Yankees have already inquired about him. Iglesias-Phillips would make for a pretty darn flashy infield, wouldn’t it?

    1. Phillips a good plan B, for sure. I think Infante is the better choice and better deal, though. Unless he’s looking for 4 years at Phillips’s salary.

        1. You’ve got something there. I think Tigers interest in Chris Perez could be dampened for the same reason.

              1. Ah, that’s right. That proves to me that the dog was responsible. If the dog was an adult (in dog years), I don’t see how Perez can be held accountable. Is everyone now completely at the mercy of their drug-using pets? It’s a travesty.

        1. TO station him. Seems to me I used to be able to edit. Maybe that was just my game post threads, though.

    1. I got a notice on it, but it looks like it went through.

      Lucky for you, I wasn’t planning on approving.

  16. another vote for Phillips…some players play hard..Phillips goes beyound hard..he plays to win…maybe Prince could learn something from a guy like Phillips who obviously cares!!!

      1. Considering how much he played at the end of the season and playoffs (0), you have to wonder if he wasn’t in the doghouse for some reason. On the other hand, perhaps they are just going to gamble on Avila returning to ’12 form, to be able to start 120 games (not a good idea in my view, but…) and decided to go with a real cheap alternative as backup (more money to spend on relievers?). It still seems strange to me too, since even in ’12 we had the vet Laird as a backup. I can’t believe they really think that much of Holaday, but maybe.

        1. The only plausible reason I can think of for letting Pena go is that they *do* think of enough of Holaday to give him a chance. I think it’s reasonable. There nothing especially “wow” about Perez, either, but there’s potential. You don’t let ’em play, you’ll never know.

          1. Well, if you are rebuilding (say like the Twins), you can let them all play, rotating from AA and AAA all season long if need be (probably). If you are desperate to get to the WS now, now, now on the other hand, there may a limit to how many rookies you are going to carry full-time on the roster, and I would say that limit is quite small – maybe 1 pitcher and 1 regular position player, perhaps 1 bench guy. Casty, Perry, Iggy, and Holly total 4 babies right there and they are all position players. Heck, let’s just throw in Alvarez (because he is LH) as the rookie pitcher and we can have 20% of our roster still wet behind the ears. When DD talks about liking “experience” I don’t think this is what he has in mind.

            1. Teams too desperate to get to the WS get there once in three years and fail when they do, methinks. I’m fine with all 5 babies being on the team. Holaday and Perez can be on the bench and Castellanos in a platoon with Dirks to begin with, no problem there (nor with any of them starting). I prefer the infusion of youth to more “win now” veterans. DD’s midseason “win now” acquisitions have been smart. Let’s give youth a chance and see how it looks at the summer trade deadline. The Tigers are loaded with veteran talent at 5 positions (6 if you count Infante) as it is. Few teams can match up with that. (And yet even teams that can’t get to the WS… and win the WS.)

  17. please do not take offense but there is a huge difference between a white guy who communicates in spanish and a hispanic coach on staff!!

  18. I still don’t get the Pena deal….Tigers could have signed him for the same thing he just agreed too,,,,,, which is baseball chump change… Back ups with even a little quality don’t grow on trees!!!

    1. But they do. The minor leagues are the trees. It’s where players come from. The stork doesn’t bring them. Not originally, anyway.

              1. DD is Detroit’s stork for delivering veterans, and good ones. He’s like a stork for couples who want kids but don’t want the hassle of raising them.

                I don’t suppose it matters where the players come from if they’re good and the team is winning. But the Tigers’ farm system is not one of the more well-regarded ones. Looks like they’re plum out of prospects to trade or close to it.

    1. The best thing the author could come up with as a reason to re-sign Santiago was that he doesn’t complain about being a backup. Ouch. If that’s a reason to sign someone, I think I have a chance. I’m cool with just hanging out in the dugout for league minimum. No problem.

    1. Does anyone here think trading Max Scherzer would be a good deal? Are the Tigers rebuilding? Makes zero sense to me. Trade him now so you get “something” for him? How about getting “2014” from Scherzer? Might that not be “something”?

      Crazy talk!

      1. DD is not going to consider trading Scherzer unless a phenomenal deal presents itself AND DET doesn’t think they’ll be able to sign or afford him (because of the dollars committed to JV, Fielder & Cabrera) when he becomes a FA after the ’14 season. This offseason would be the optimum time to trade him IF (see above)…because a trade at the July (trade deadline) wouldn’t make sense for DET if they’re contending (which they likely will) – or for a prospective team if he’s having health or ERA problems in ’14

        1. I favor having Scherzer in 2014 and letting the chips fall where they may regarding signing him thereafter. If Rick Porcello (or Drew Smyly) were Chris Sale or Doug Fister were James Shields, the Tigers could afford, talent-wise, to trade Scherzer. As it is, the absence of Scherzer in the rotation would be very difficult to offset. Moving heaven and earth to shore up the bullpen while simultaneously weakening your rotation doesn’t make sense to me. Cross-purposes.

  19. $26 million for 2 years of Joe Nathan, huh? Torii Hunter money for 64 innings of work. I think $26 million on the bullpen might be better spent spreading it around a bit more. Nathan is the best available, yes. Still can’t say aye to this one, done deal or foregone conclusion though it may be.

    To the extent that I’m interested in closers, which is not very, I favor Mujica, Perez, or Wilson, and disfavor Rodney or Balfour.

    1. Nathan is 39 and will be just a couple years past a significant arm issue. Some team is going to give him his asking price (or close to it)…hope its not DET

      I’m hoping the new Mgr takes a more innovative approach to the bullpen and closers.

      1. I think DD has a course of action set, and I sense closer desperation there. I don’t think Ausmus can do anything but take what he is given. Whatever innovative bullpen ideas Ausmus may have are going to have to work around the 2014 magic bullet, the established star closer.

      1. OK. After Hicks, I was kind of scrounging for an acceptable return package for Porcello and Avila. Twins do have some bullpen.

        On to Seattle and a possibly pointless exercise in trade theory.

        1. I don’t think the Twins and Tigers match up very well as trade partners. In fact, I’m not sure how much trading the Twins will actually do this off-season. Since they are in rebuild mode they will most likely stick with the various position players they already have on hand and see what shakes out as they await the arrival of Sano (3B) and the hot-shot outfielder in A whose name escapes me at the moment. There is some talk of going after catching in FA, but I don’t buy it as they already have three guys (besides Mauer) on the roster that can catch. They really need to pick up at least two decent starters this winter, so it seems like Porcello would be a fit, but I just don’t see any immediate impact player (a definite priority in any DD trade this winter) we could get back from them that fits our needs. I think they do a lot of FA shopping and some small deals, maybe concentrating on a vet to platoon with Florimon at SS. The bullpen was their strength, so conceivably they could deal some of that, but on the other hand they may be better off waiting til mid-season when they could get more. Same with Willingham and Plouffe. But what do I know?

        2. And with Seattle we have a long history of great trades, plus a man on the inside now, and the fact that catching was a black hole for them in ’13. This all makes Avila a perfect fit for the Mariners. But don’t hold your breath.

        3. Avila and Porcello to the Mariners in exchange for Charlie Furbush, Danny Farquhar, and Nick Franklin.

          1. I agree that the Twins don’t match up so well as trade partners. I was trying to flesh out my deal with guys I had to kind of shoehorn into it… Dozier… Doumit (giving up a C, might as well get the veteran backup in return). Threw in Jackson and ended up having to ask the Twins for their entire bullpen. Didn’t quite work out.

      1. Very interesting article. Thanks, KW. Much more in-depth look at the pros and cons of the question. It doesn’t change my mind about trading Scherzer, but it makes it appear less insane. Trading Scherzer, that is. Nothing can be done to make my mind appear less insane.

  20. I am for keeping Scherzer and also seeing where the chips fall. One year from today is huge in the world of sports. I trust DD and not the media. He will do the right thing!

        1. Sounds like the Tigers had better get ready to either pony up for Scherzer or stock up on candidates to replenish the starting rotation.

  21. The Tigers may listen politely to non-existent offers on Prince Fielder, but I can’t take this losing proposition very seriously. Trading can’t be very attractive to other teams, but if Fielder was a free agent, there would be no more sought-after first baseman than he.

    A Tale of Two Fellas: A guy who is unproductive for 1.5 of his first 3 years inspires keeping the faith. Another guy, 5 years younger than Guy #1, who is quite productive both of his first two years is seen as a career-in-decline, contractual albatross.

    Martinez NOTHING
    Fielder .940, 108 RBI, 4.9 WPA, 50.4 RE24, 1.031 RISP

    Martinez .785, 83 RBI, 0.4 WPA, 4.7 RE24, .714 RISP
    Fielder .819, 106 RBI, 2.0 WPA, 24.1 RE24, .824 RISP

    Say what you will about Fielder, but he plays a position, every day, maybe a bit better than many give him credit for. Victor Martinez doesn’t, and he makes Fielder look fast on the bases, with a higher GIDP% to go along with it.

    I’m not exactly itching to trade Martinez, but if you wanted to lop off some payroll and get about a “free year” of Scherzer or Hunter or Nathan, there you go. Answer to your next question: Cabrera. And the next: Peralta.

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