Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus will not be back next year, GM Al Avila said in an announcement reported by MLB.com.
The Tigers have gone 62-91 under Ausmus this year and are fourth in the NL Central, just a half-game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Chicago White Sox. A combination of age and injuries caused the team to struggle so badly that longtime ace Justin Verlander was shipped to the Houston Astros last month.
Handed a mess
The worst part is that Ausmus, 48, cannot be 100 percent blamed for being let go. He took over Detroit’s reins in 2014 following the retirement of the great Jim Leyland, who left some big shoes to fill. This is the same man who took over a team that lost 91 games in 2005 and led them to the AL Pennant the following year, plus another in 2012, so his pedigree speaks for itself.
And though Ausmus was handed a team that did include star power like Miguel Cabrera, Verlander, plus others, the team’s inflated payroll meant little room for adding missing pieces. This meant star pitcher and one-time AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was allowed to leave via free agency in 2015, whereas the powerful yet streaky Justin Upton was added on a six-year, $132 million deal and Jordan Zimmermann on a deal worth $110 million. Upton has since been traded to the Los Angeles Angels, while Zimmermann has gone 17-20 with a 5.66 ERA in 46 starts for Detroit.
This led to Ausmus leading the team to an AL Central crown in his first season, but not making the playoffs since.
Just where Ausmus ends up next is unclear but what Detroit’s front office must do in finding his successor is fairly obvious. The Tigers next year are going to have a team headlined by Cabrera once again, plus talented youngsters like Nick Castellanos and Michael Fulmer, but not much else beyond that.
A lot is going to depend on how Avila approaches the offseason but in terms of a manager, the Tigers would do well to hire someone younger who has a knack for developing younger players. One name who comes to mind is Chicago White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing. Tim Bogar, who serves in the same position for the Seattle Mariners, also comes to mind.
Either way, Ausmus’s Detroit tenure will be remembered in one way: in with a roar, out with a whimper.
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