At this point in the MLB season, the haves and have-nots are pretty well established. Many teams are a shoo-in for the playoffs. Others are on the bubble. Then there are some who knew they didn’t have a shot before Labor Day.
For those teams and their fans, the 2017 season demands some changes. Player personnel, managers, maybe even in the front office. Something isn’t what it ought to be, and pro sports isn’t a place for feelings to get in the way of business. Business demands a Better Shot Next Year.
That brings us to a recent AP story out of Detroit that says the Tigers plan to part ways with manager Brad Ausmus at the end of the season. That’s a tough pill for some Tiger fans to swallow, despite the Tigers rough record this season.
After all, the Tigers won the Central Division in Ausmus’ first season. Since then, though, the team has been on a slide. Now, four years in, Ausmus is 312-325, a losing record Tigers leadership is not willing to allow to continue. Some blame the team’s age or unlucky injuries that have sidelined important players and cost the team some close games.
But the bottom line is the team isn’t getting any better. Pro sports is a What Have You Done For Me Lately business, and there are few even at this level that are more WHYDFML than the MLB. The Tigers started by replacing expensive players with newer, relatively untested prospects. That’s MLB telegraphing for “rebuilding” … which typically means changes in management as well. Ausmus had to see this coming.
That writing on the wall was pretty indelible by the time the team traded their ace, Justin Verlander for a few prospects. Verlander was at or near the best Detroit has on the mound for years. Number two overall pick. Rookie of the year. American League Cy Young Award winner and MVP as recently as 2011.
But that was a long time ago in Baseball Years, and Verlander was more valuable as a commodity than a trusted pitcher with two no-hitters.
The Tigers dropped the standard “thanks, but there’s the door” speech about Ausmus in announcing the firing. “Brad has done an admirable job under difficult circumstances, especially this season, and we appreciate his professionalism and dedication to the Tigers the past four years … Our search for a new manager is underway. We plan to keep an open mind in considering current members of the coaching staff for positions in 2018 … but that will be in conjunction with the manager we hire…”
Translation: no one is safe. Tigers on-field leadership may well be different from the top down next season.