Notes and quotes from Avila’s announcement keeping Ausmus
Tigers general manager Al Avila’s announcement keeping Brad Ausmus as manager for next season touched on a handful of key points for why he came to the decision. Among them:
The improvement from young players as the season has gone on. While Avila mentioned key players who have improved under Ausmus’ watch, Ausmus and Avila talked about the fact that the teaching process doesn’t stop when a player reaches the big leagues.
“Brad physically has gotten involved with each player — McCann, Gose,” Avila said. “I mean, he goes out there and he works with these players, hand-in-hand in trying to get them better. So it’s not that he’s teaching from a distance, he’s actually in there with them. … The staff, for me, has done a great job. Look at the young pitchers we’ve acquired. If you look at the young pitchers we’ve acquired, since they’ve been here, they’ve actually improved.”
In addition, Avila said: “You have to understand one thing: It starts from the minor leagues to the big leagues where you teach baserunning, you teach base stealing, you teach other aspects of the game. That has not stopped. In our meeting, we’ve addressed it where we acknowledge in today’s world, today’s baseball, there are young players being pushed to the big leagues probably a lot sooner than they should be here. We’re a perfect example of that. We’ve got Triple-A pitchers that have not had good seasons in Toledo pitching at the big league level. I can acknowledge that right now. We’ve had players come up from Toledo that have not had good seasons in Toledo come up and play. So we’re force-feeding here. As much teaching as you can possibly do, some of these guys are going to make some mistakes. It’s on the player, really. You go through that process of teaching and practicing, and at the end of the day the player has to perform. You have to acknowledge that sometimes, players are pushed too fast and it just takes time.”
Avila also talked about getting support from key veteran players, as did Ausmus.
“Baseball is a sport of individuals. At some level, they’re all playing for themselves,” Ausmus said. “But they have to understand that the bigger goal is winning and we have the vast majority of players on this team understand that, especially the veteran players.”
Avila noted the preparation level he has seen from Ausmus and his coaching staff.
“I can tell you he really works hard at preparing before each game,” Avila said. “What people don’t understand is, when we hired Brad, he and I had talked one on one quite a bit about what we felt, what I felt, what some people felt, we needed [from] the leadership role on this club. And one of [the factors] was that he himself had to personally get involved in the teaching of these young players. And he has. And that’s one of the things that I’m proud of him, because I know what he does. I know what he does in that office with his staff preparing for each game. I know how he comes out and works individually with each player. In that batting cage, he takes a personal approach to each guy. Those are things that I look at. The average person out there watching on TV or in the stadium, maybe they don’t understand that, which is fine, because they don’t need to understand that. But it’s my job to know that.”
The preparation and effort level stayed consistent, Avila noted, during tough times down the stretch, especially when Ausmus’ future faced greater scrutiny.
“It’s easy when things are going good and some of the things that should happen that don’t, maybe you ignore it or whatever,” Avila said. “But the most important time is, when things are going bad and the [crap] hits the fan, let’s just say, ‘OK, now let’s see what these guys are made of.’ That’s when the real inner person comes out. And he has shown me that he is calm, cool and collected and has continued the course, continued working through all kinds of stupid [stuff] that’s been going out there. And that’s what has impressed me.”
Lastly, there was an acknowledgement that the team Ausmus managed wasn’t the team he was expected to have going on, both through injuries early on and through trades in July.