Al Avila goes to bat for Brad Ausmus on radio
The Tigers began their nine-game homestand just over a week ago with speculation swirling around Brad Ausmus’ managerial future. As they wrapped up the homestand Wednesday, general manager Al Avila spoke up in support of Ausmus.
Speaking with Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin on MLB Network Radio before Wednesday’s loss to the Phillies, Avila said Ausmus is part of the solution, not the problem:
“The culture in baseball, at least from a media — maybe even the fan base — is: what have you done for me lately? And you could even look at Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander where people not too long ago, just weeks ago, were saying these two guys are washed up, they’re done, let’s turn the page on these days. And now everybody’s talking about them. Of course, you go through a losing streak? Fire the manager. You go through a winning streak? Everything’s fine. But for me, I can’t listen to all that stuff. I’m here every single day with these guys.
“I understand you can do all you can and if things don’t work out, at the end of the day you still might have to make a change just for the sake of change. But for me, I’m telling you right now, Brad is one of the smartest guys that you’re going to find in baseball. But on top of that, he’s also one of the more experienced guys from a pure baseball background. So he’s got that analytical mind, he’s got wit, but he’s also got the baseball player per se in him of 18 years behind the plate. He’s got that combination of new-school analytics but old-school baseball guy. And he brings it to the park every single day. And he gets involved on a personal basis with each and every player, and he does moreso when they’re struggling. He’s on the field. He catches their bullpen. He throws BP to them.
“I think some people, when the camera goes into the dugout and they see a manager that’s not emotional all the time, then they feel he’s not engaged, maybe he doesn’t care, which is just a false image that you’re seeing. Maybe another guy is hollering, screaming and clapping as a cheerleader but maybe he’s not doing the job that he should be doing. I think part of the criticism on Brad is maybe he’s too serious in the dugout, but you go back to Jim Leyland — and Jim Leyland was for me a Hall of Fame manager, one of the best ever — but when he was here and we were doing well, everybody thought he was great, and all of a sudden when we started to struggle, they wanted his head, they wanted him out of year. And then once he left, they gave him a parade. That’s just the way it is.
“When you’re a general manager, you can’t be listening. You have to do what you think is right for your team. And I learned this from Jim Leyland, because I actually asked him. He said, ‘Al, the minute you know that you want to make a managerial change, don’t linger, don’t wait two months, just do it and get it over with, because it doesn’t serve you any purpose nor the team.’ I talk to him all the time. I’ve got Al Kaline here, I’ve got Alan Trammell, I’ve got Kirk Gibson. I’ve got a lot of old guys here that really know the game, and believe me, if these guys said get rid of the manager, you’ve gotta listen. And not one person has said that. So there’s a lot of support from within, too.
“You’ve just gotta know what’s going on. I’m not saying that anybody has a job for life, because nobody’s got a job for life, but at the same time, I think he’s been everything possible to get this ship straightened out. Right now we’re on a good roll and our hope and our faith is that we continue.”