It’s time to make a declaration that has been fairly obvious for several weeks, if not several months: time is up on Brad Ausmus’ managerial stint with the Tigers.
The Tigers fell seven games under .500 on August 25 — their most games below the .500 threshold since they finished the 2008 season 14 games under, and they continued the downward trend the rest of the month of August, winning only one more game.
It became the most recent sign of the season being unsalvageable, and there is no way of getting past the fact that Ausmus will be the scapegoat for the club’s woes at the end of the season.
Should he be, though?
According to many Detroit fans and team observers, the answer is a definite “yes.”
Whether it be because of his late-game bullpen mismanagement issues, which date back for a lot of fans to the second half of last season, or his lack of aptitude handling veterans and gaining the respect of them (i.e. former Detroit ace David Price), the Dartmouth graduate has royally screwed the pooch.
And I would not be fully describing his ineptitude as club skipper without mentioning that he failed to move Victor Martinez, who has been in a season-long funk at the plate, down to fifth in the batting order behind J.D. Martinez until the club’s final game in August.
Or without mentioning that his hiring and retaining of by former club president and general manager Dave Dombrowski likely played a role in Dave D’s demise with the franchise and premature firing by longtime club owner Mike Ilitch.
Dombrowski is easily the greatest GM I’ve seen in my time as a fan of the Bengals, and the inefficiencies of Ausmus helped usher him out of Detroit before he could finish out his contract.
It brought about the end of a glorious era in Detroit that began with tough times in 2002 but took a turn for the better in 2006 with the hiring of Jim Leyland and the club’s subsequent trip to the Fall Classic in the same season.
A hardcore Dombrowski backer, like myself, will never forgive Ausmus for playing a part in bringing an end to arguably the most successful decade in franchise history.
I say arguably only because the Tigers failed to capture the grand prize of a World Series title during the decade.
New club president and former Dombrowski right-hand man Al Avila is not likely nor should he be expected to use the above reason as any sort of ground for Ausmus’ dismissal.
But do not worry about whether or not Avila will find a reason to hand “Sexy Brad” his walking papers.
He has plenty of them at his disposal, and in his first big move as the head of the Tigers’ front office, he needs to only enact one of them to bring upon the end of Ausmus’ tenure as Detroit skipper.
And if he has trouble remembering any of the bad bullpen decisions and other in-game “brain farts” made by “Big Bad Brad” over the course of the last year and a half-plus, I’m only a phone call away.