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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

12th Man Report: A look at Tigers’ new skipper

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 8:53 AM

First off — yes, Brad Ausmus is a pretty attractive 44-year-old man.

Paul Sancya, AP

But no, Ausmus wasn’t hired as the next manager of the Detroit Tigers based on his good looks and youthful age.

In a search that took a little less than two weeks, Tigers’ general manager Dave Dombrowski announced former major league catcher Brad Ausmus as the new skipper in town this past weekend.

While his somewhat attractive appearance has wooed the female folk everywhere from the UP to Detroit, he was one of the most touted candidates that Dombrowski interviewed for the position.

Ausmus spent 18 seasons as an MLB catcher, three of which were with the Tigers (1996, 1999-00). He was a terrific defensive catcher — winning three gold gloves in his career — and finished seventh in MLB history with 1,938 games caught. Not only does he have a great aptitude for the game, but as a Dartmouth graduate, his intelligence spans much further than on the diamond.

There is another side to the hiring, though: you know, besides this good-looking genius who’ll be gracing the Tigers’ dugout.

Ausmus has never managed, let alone coached, in the majors. The Tigers are going from Jim Leyland — a guy that spent a lifetime coaching various aspects of the game — to the polar opposite.

A lot of people bring up Ausmus’ stint as the Israeli national baseball team’s manager during the qualification round for the 2013 World Baseball Classic when talking about his experience. Although it is technically experience, I don’t think it should play a part in our analysis of how he might perform at the helm of the Tigers.

What it boils down to is that Ausmus has about as much experience as a professional manager and coach as

well you get my point. It seems that the Tigers are hoping for a similar result as the St. Louis Cardinals-Mike Matheney situation. Matheney had never been a major league manager, but was an excellent catcher for a number of years, and immediately found success in St. Louis.

If there’s one thing Ausmus can do, it’s “manage” a game. As the catcher, you do a lot of managing on the field during the inning — whether it’s the pitches being thrown, or the location of the infielders. And it sounds like Tigers’ bench coach Gene Lamont is going to stay on. Though Lamont isn’t exactly a fan favorite, he does have a lot of experience coaching in the majors and he knows this Tigers team better than anyone still on the coaching staff.

I honestly believe that Ausmus can successfully manage the Tigers, despite his lack of experience. Guys with a lot less impressive baseball resumes have succeeded before him without much experience in the MLB. There’s no doubt that he might need some help with the transition to head honcho, but that’s why it was so crucial to retain the services of Lamont (never thought I’d say that). For now, though, we’ll have to sit back — there’s still a long wait until spring training — and watch Mike Illitch’s other concoction: the Red Wings.


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