Brad Ausmus has neither managed nor coached in the big leagues in three seasons since his 18-year playing career ended. On Monday, he was at Comerica Park talking about why his first shot should be managing the three-time American League Central champions, a team that had to debate whether falling two wins shy of the World Series constituted a disappointing season.
The fact that the Tigers were listening says a lot about how highly Ausmus is considered among potential managers.
The Tigers made Ausmus the third candidate to interview for their managerial opening on Monday, starting a new week to their search for Jim Leyland’s successor with a new-style candidate. The team interviewed Ausmus after receiving permission from the San Diego Padres, where Ausmus works as a special assistant in baseball operations.
“I enjoyed meeting and discussing the Tigers with Dave and his staff,” Ausmus replied in a text message. “I felt like it went well.”
This much we know: Miguel Cabrera is headed to visit Dr. William Meyers this week. Either surgery is already set, or he’s going to wait for the test results before deciding on surgery on his severe groin strain.
Cabrera indicated to reporters in the media room at Busch Stadium Sunday night that he isn’t sure whether he’ll need surgery: “I don’t know yet. I have to check with the doctor and see what he says, and we’ll go from there.”
However, Cabrera apparently indicated to ESPN’s Enrique Rojas that he’s going to have the surgery, reportedly Tuesday.
“I don’t know anything about the operation, I don’t want to know the details, I just hope it heals fast,” Cabrera told him. “I am trusting that the doctors can fix the problem. I have a lot left in me.”
Peter Gammons of MLB Network also reported that Cabrera will have surgery. The Tigers confirmed to various news outlets that he will have surgery.
Bottom line: Expect some news Tuesday or Wednesday that Cabrera opted for surgery.
The Tigers have reportedly received permission from the Padres to interview two of their employees for the managerial job. One, Brad Ausmus, has been expected for a while. Another, Rick Renteria, was not, though he probably should have been.
Both are in line to interview with the Tigers this week in Detroit, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported Sunday night.
Ausmus, a special assistant in the Padres front office, has been a hot name in this search since the day the job opened up. He has neither managed nor coached in the big leagues. His only managerial experience at the pro level was Team Israel in the most recent World Baseball Classic. But his 18-year career behind the plate — three of those seasons in Detroit — and his Dartmouth education are seen as a foundation. Those who know him from his playing and post-playing careers rave about his people skills.
“Great mind for the game,” one AL official said, “and an ability to communicate in layman, PHD, management terms. … Low-energy look but a fierce competitor, humorous but tough, all lends to an ability to find everyone’s button that needs to be pushed.”
Ausmus, who will turn 45 next April, goes against Dombrowski’s remarks last week about previous managerial experience being a plus, but others have suggested an experienced bench coach could help him make up for it. Still, he’d be coming into a win-now job where an adjustment year is not really an option.
Renteria, who will turn 52 in December, has been on the Padres coaching staff the past six seasons, the last three of them as Bud Black’s bench coach. He, too, managed in the WBC, leading Mexico. He also managed for five years in the Padres farm system, and four in the Marlins organization while Dave Dombrowski was the general manager there. Renteria has drawn a lot of buzz for the Cubs managerial opening, and he interviewed for the Mariners job last week.
Add Ausmus and Renteria to Lloyd McClendon and Tim Wallach, both of whom interviewed last week, and the Tigers are up to four candidates for Jim Leyland’s old gig. Of those four, McClendon is the only one who has managed in the Majors before.
Neither a nasty groin injury that sapped some power numbers nor the magical season of Chris Davis could keep Miguel Cabrera from another Hank Aaron Award. The Tigers superstar was on hand to receive his second consecutive honor — given to the top hitter in each league — prior to Game 4 of the World Series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
By now, you know the numbers and feats. Cabrera is the first right-handed hitter since Rogers Hornsby built a hitting dynasty in the same city where Cabrera received his award Sunday night. His .348 average topped everybody else in the Majors by at least 17 points. His .442 on-base percentage and .636 slugging clip also led the big leagues, resulting in a career-best 1.078 OPS that led baseball by 74 points.
Add in highlight feats like the three-homer game at Texas in May, the game-tying shot to straightaway center off Danny Salazar in August, and the two home runs off Mariano Rivera over three games in the Bronx, and Cabrera had a tough case to top in fan balloting, as well as the vote of a panel of Hall of Famers that included Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Tony Gwynn, Eddie Murray and Robin Yount.
Cabrera won out over 14 other AL team nominees, including Davis, Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, David Ortiz and Robinson Cano.
“It’s a great honor,” Cabrera said at the press conference. “I don’t expect to win any hardware. I expect to win games. My goal is always to go out and win games. We fell short this year, but I know we have a great team. This award is for all my teammates.”
The second half of that hitting, of course, came despite what was revealed last week to be a grade 2-3 groin injury. Hank Aaron acknowledged at the press conference the challenge of what Cabrera was able to play through, calling it remarkable.
“It was hard to talk to the media about how I was feeling,” Cabrera said, “because I was trying to focus on how I could help my team to win games. I was hurt, but I don’t want to open up and try to tell the other team I was hurt. I want to be in the field. …
“It was hard, but i want to play like that. I want to go out and help my team like that. It was my choice.”
Cabrera was not asked whether he’ll need surgery to repair the injury.
Cabrera is the fourth player to win back-to-back Hank Aaron Awards since it began in 1999. Jose Bautista won two in a row in 2010 and 2011 before Cabrera broke his reign last year. Alex Rodriguez won three in a row from 2001-2003. Barry Bonds won the NL honor three times in a four-year span from 2001 to 2004.
Cabrera also talked for the first time about Jim Leyland’s retirement and how he took the news after Game 6 of the ALCS last weekend.
“It was a big surprise for all of us,” he said. “He was an inspiration to us all. I thanked him because thanks to him, I’m a better player. He always makes us believe that we can win every single game. He should have his own reasons and I am very sad that he has retired.”
Lloyd McClendon has been in line for the Tigers managerial job the past several years. He is now a candidate for the Seattle Mariners managerial opening for the second time in three years.
McClendon will interview for the M’s job next week. He confirmed the reports, including from MLB Network’s Jon Paul Morosi, via text message.
McClendon reportedly finished runner-up to Wedge for the Seattle job after the 2010 season. Wedge went 213-273 in three seasons with the M’s before parting ways about a month ago. For the M’s to want to interview McClendon again is a pretty good sign of how he interviewed last time.
Last time around, McClendon was one of at least five candidates with prior experience managing in the big leagues to interview for the job. So far this time around, the M’s have taken the opposite approach, interviewing two bench coaches — Oakland’s Chip Hale and San Diego’s Rick Renteria — with no prior Major League managing experience. Whether that works to McClendon’s advantage remains to be seen.
What happens from here, of course, has a lot to do with what happens in Detroit, where McClendon is one of two candidates to interview for the Tigers job. Dave Dombrowski has wasted little time talking with candidates, which should bode well for him reaching a relatively quick conclusion on his choice to succeed Jim Leyland. If, however, the M’s wrap up their search and offer McClendon their job while the Tigers are still interviewing, he’d have a decision to make.
The Tigers’ winning ways are a huge factor in Detroit’s favor. So is the fact that Dombrowski has job security, while Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik is reportedly heading into the final year of his contract.
This might not be the only time the Tigers and Mariners talk to the same candidate. MLB.com’s Mariners beat writer, Greg Johns, reported earlier this week that the M’s are believed to have interest in Brad Ausmus, another potential first-time manager who’s drawing a lot of interest this fall.
All indications at this point are that Lloyd McClendon is the only in-house candidate for the Tigers managerial post (Gene Lamont and Tom Brookens haven’t been contacted about the job). So if the Tigers are talking with more managerial candidates, they’re most likely coming from outside the organization. There’s no shortage of those, but who first?
Tim Wallach, perhaps?
Now for something completely different — an actual source-based rumor. Hearing talks escalating for Tim Wallach re: Tigers manager job.
— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) October 26, 2013
That was followed by this report.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 26, 2013
Jonah Keri is a baseball analyst for ESPN and Grantland who has written extensively about the Montreal Expos. Bill Shaikin covers the Dodgers for the Los Angeles Times.
The reports were confirmed by Wallach, who returned home to California Friday evening after interviewing for the job Friday afternoon.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports mentioned Wallach a couple days ago as a potential option, in part based on his history with Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski. Wallach spent more than a decade as the third baseman in Montreal, including the years when Dombrowski was the Expos general manager.
More important, Wallach was a minor-league manager (Triple-A Albuquerque 2009-2010) and then a third-base coach for Don Mattingly with the Dodgers for the last three seasons. There have been reports that Wallach was in line to become the Dodgers’ interim manager if Mattingly was fired when rumors were flying early in the season.
Rawlings has released its list of three finalists at each position for the Gold Glove awards. The Tigers have two — one probably expected, one probably not.
Doug Fister joins Blue Jays hurlers Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey as the Gold Glove finalists at pitcher. Buehrle has dominated this award, winning four in a row (2009-2011 AL, 2012 NL), but his defensive stats took a little bit of a dip this season (TWO errors!!!) on the artificial surface in Toronto. Fister had an errorless season with an AL-best 2.29 Range Factor, and he turned five double plays — tied for most among AL pitchers with Justin Verlander and Lucas Harrell.
In past years, those defensive stats would be relatively meaningless, since the Gold Gloves have been decided exclusively on voting from managers and coaches. This summer, however, Rawlings and SABR announced a Defensive Index statistic derived from Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating and Runs Effectively Defended, which was sent to managers and coaches as a statistical resource guide to go with the ballots. Of course, there’s no guarantee how much they’ll take stats into account.
The plan, according to Rawlings and SABR, is to also have the SABR Defensive Index complement the judgement by the managers and coaches. The SDI will account for 30 total votes — or approximately 25 percent — of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process, and will be added to the votes from the managers and coaches.
The other Tigers Gold Glove finalist is left fielder Andy Dirks — yes, Dirks. He finished second in Ultimate Zone Rating among AL left fielders with enough innings to qualify (though the leader, Texas’ David Murphy, isn’t among the finalists) and led the group in Range Factor (putouts plus assists per game). He had seven outfield assists and two errors.
The finalists in left include Kansas City’s Alex Gordon, who has won back-to-back Gold Gloves, and Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes. Gordon had another very good year, and he would seem to be a favorite here.
Among those Tigers who didn’t get consideration this year were shortstop Jose Iglesias, center fielder Austin Jackson and right fielder Torii Hunter. Iglesias, though he certainly had some defensive gems after becoming the Tigers’ everyday shortstop in August, made just 67 starts at short this season. Jackson faced a statistically strong group of AL center fielders and didn’t make the cut statistically (neither did Mike Trout). Hunter tied for the AL lead in assists among right fielders but didn’t rank high on other statistical levels.
The Gold Glove winners will be announced Tuesday night at 8pm ET on ESPN2.
The Tigers have started the interview process for their managerial position. Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon interviewed for the job on Thursday.
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski confirmed the interview, first reported by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Dombrowski also confirmed that McClendon is the first interview for the opening.
McClendon is also reportedly a potential candidate in Seattle, where he was a finalist for the Mariners opening the last time around before they hired Eric Wedge.
The MLB Players Association has released a few “Livin’ the Dream” videos, profiling players on and off the field. Two of the three videos feature players who are in the World Series with St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter and Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury. Max Scherzer is the other.
Most of the video comprises of Scherzer’s commute from his in-season home to Comerica Park. If you look around, you can pick out some familiar surroundings in Birmingham, downtown Detroit, Woodward Avenue and I-75.
Tom Brookens and Gene Lamont said it yesterday, and Lloyd McClendon repeated it today. Like the rest of the Tigers coaches, McClendon is in limbo, under contract with the Tigers until the end of the month but unsure what will happen beyond that.
McClendon has not heard anything from the Tigers about the managerial opening, but he’d obviously be interested.
“Oh, I think you’d be a fool not to be,” he said.
McClendon was one of three coaches — Lamont and Rafael Belliard are the others — to work with Jim Leyland for all eight seasons in Detroit. He came here coming off a 4 1/2-year stint managing in Pittsburgh that ended late in the 2005 season, and Leyland brought him back looking to keep him involved in the game — first as the bullpen coach in 2006, then as hitting coach for the other seven seasons.
He already had learned a lot playing for Leyland for five seasons, then coaching under Gene Lamont for four more. Coaching for Leyland has strengthened that base, which he hopes to turn into a second chance at managing.
“It’s been a pleasure,” McClendon said. “Obviously when you have an opportunity to work with one of the best in the game, you’d be a fool not to learn something. That has certainly been very beneficial to me. My aspirations are hopefully to manage again, but at the same time you have to be your own man.”
Much of what he has learned sounds like what Leyland has preached, though it’s coming from a different voice.
“I think I already had it,” McClendon said, “but it certainly confirmed my convictions as far as how you go about your business, preparation, knowing your opponents, using that to your advantage, knowing your players, knowing their capabilities, what they’re capable of doing and what they’re not capable of doing, and above all your leadership skills.”
The biggest thing, he said, is to be yourself. Another point sounded familiar: “Be smart enough to stay out of the players’ way.”
Leyland has said more than once over the years that he’d like to see McClendon get another chance to manage somewhere, and he said it again on a local radio station Monday to put in a good word for him and Lamont. When contacted Monday, Lamont made it clear he’d like to manage again, but sounded less than confident he’d get a chance in this case.
If and when the Tigers look in-house at candidates to fill the job, the 54-year-old McClendon is expected to be the strongest candidate, combining previous managerial experience, hands-on work with the current roster and a relatively young age (younger than Lamont or Brookens). There will be questions about the struggles of the offense, as there should, but there will also be a look at hitters he has helped progress.
“I have not heard anything as of yet,” he said.
Like the rest of the coaches, McClendon said he had his suspicions as the season went on that Leyland could retire at the end. Interestingly, though, he said he was hoping an energized Leyland might change his mind once the Tigers returned to the playoffs.
“Obviously there were times during the season where I thought he had enough,” McClendon said, “but I thought he was energized for the playoffs. I was always kind of hoping he’d come back.”