By: Eric Thomas
The Tigers are in full collapse. Game one in the series against the Blue Jays wasn’t unusual by recent standards, but it’s proof that a day off and Comerica Park did little to cure the recent woes. It’s also time to point the finger directly at manager Brad Ausmus, and wonder if can lead this team in the future.
What’s wrong? Take your pick. The starters have struggled, the bullpen has returned to their early season form giving up late inning runs by the bucket, and the offense has been dead on arrival. You can’t pick on any single player, because the team is bleeding from every orifice.
Ausmus was hailed as the latest Mike Matheny, a former catcher who hadn’t managed on any level but was qualified to lead based on his baseball knowledge. Ausmus is certainly intelligent, but perhaps he lacks the gravitas. Can he lead a club? The only early available answers are bad.
The young skipper looked like a genius early on when the team was easily winning games early in the season, but he hadn’t faced adversity. Since then the team has struggled, and Ausmus been unable to pull out of the tailspin. The Tigers are 3-7 out of the last ten, on yet another long losing streak.
You can’t lose them all, but the Tigers have certainly made a run at it recently.
Why blame Ausmus? Baseball managers have probably the least amount of control in any professional sport, as the game itself is mostly an individual game. It all comes down to the pitcher versus the batter.
The team’s struggles are too widespread NOT to blame the manager. The Tigers have one of the biggest payrolls in baseball, with the best hitter and arguably the best starting rotation in the American League. You pay the players this much PRECISELY to avoid situations like this. To have both the offense and defense become this anemic at the same time is inexcusable.
This isn’t a call to fire Ausmus, but it needs to be said that the young manager hasn’t done much to right the ship so far this year. He needs to assert himself as the boss. Phil Coke has trotted to the mound regardless of his performance. Joe Nathan has been given long enough leash to hang himself and the team along with him. Andrew Romine is at short stop for defense and he’s struggled on both sides of the ball. When things were going well, Ausmus rightly didn’t rock the boat. It’s time to rock the boat.
It was a bad sign when the Tigers went on long losing streaks against the Rangers and Indians. It was a worse sign when Ausmus threw Nick Castellanos under the bus in the series against Oakland. It’s the final straw when Drew Hutchinson blanked them for seven innings. Ausmus hasn’t had the answers, and his team meetings aren’t sinking in. Players play and coaches coach, but when the problems are widespread; you have to look at the coaching staff.
Ausmus is young, and he can turn this around, but he has a talented roster that Vegas picked to win the World Series. If he has a future as a manager he needs to step up and prove it now.
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