DRAFT - subject to Edit
THE DECLINE OF OUR BELOVED DETROIT TIGERS - AUSMUS IS CHIEF CULPRITSeptember 18, 2016
Detroit Tigers headed into the final two months of the season vying for the Central Division lead trailing the Cleveland Indians by 7 games closing to a mere 2 games behind in recent weeks.
With the schedule in their favor, J.D, Martinez and Justin Upton on a slugging terror, a bullpen now competing with the best since the All Star game and the ace Justin Verlander resurging with the dominance of a Cy Young winner, the Tigers began to play a brand of baseball Seinfeld would only describe as nothing but "bizarro world."
At some point, the crippling element of kryptonite was smuggled into the clubhouse. The prime suspects with motive and malice would undoubtedly point to Prince Fielder and Avasail Garcia have seen banishment. This leads to Tiger "super-fans" to deduce that Brad Ausmus as a "person of interest." You need not be Sherlock Holmes to reach the same conclusion.
If Detroit is Gotham City, imagine Robin crying out "Holy Bats Batman! The tigers have holes in their gloves, bats and running shoes.
ENTER BRAD AUSMUS AND HIS MARVEL COMIC STRATEGY
- Unfortunately, the Post All Star stats of Victor Martinez have fallen off at an alarming rate. HIs batting average has fallen from among lead leaders to one hovering at .238. What is more alarming is fallen run production and big hits. Victor's 8th inning home run against Baltimore is the only winning hit. The strike-out and ground double play rates earn him the team lead.
- Victor is feeling the pressure and frustration. After hitting two straight balls that are sure doubles for most, Victor was glued to first. The third time, he pounded a drive to left center between outfielders. It was a sure double. Victor saw it that way and rounded first going on to second and thrown out. It took the Tigers out of a potential big inning. Victor is pressing, yet Ausmus continues to write in Victor as batting clean-up. To relieve the pressure and work out of this slump, V-Mart should have been dropped to sixth a month ago with J.D. and J-Up moving up. I mean these guys are hitting the cover off the ball.
- The most obvious, perplexing and universally held view by the Press and casual fans is the continued starts of Anabel Sanchez. "Why does Ausmus throw Sanchez out there as a starter every fifth day?" Majority of Tiger fans have a genuine good feeling about Sanchez and to a one root for his comeback. However, his inconsistency all season and a string of early exits dictate Sanchez be put on the shelf for a date to be named later. Another detriment is overuse of the bullpen.
- Andrew Romine is no doubt the most valuable utility player in baseball. But, Ausmus went with repalcements for Castellanos and Iglesias with Ayebar and McGehee and spotty insert of Machado. Why has Ausmus largely denied Romine a chance to be an everyday player.
- When the team lost by injury a vastly improved third baseman Nick Castellanos and followed by shortstop Jose Iglesias, the best Avila and Ausmus could muster is an aging infielder in Eric Aybar from the lowly Braves and elevate McGehee from Toledo batting .236 and ..228 respectively and adding little punch to the everyday lineup.
- In effort to spark his team, Ausmus finally made one good move by calling up before the August 31 deadline, JaCoby Jones. It worked in his debut. When his next eight appearances at the plate caught him fooled by curve balls, JaCoby was benched. So Ausmus turned his one good move to one that will only cause Jones to doubt his ability. He is certainly headed on a path to far surpass Ayebar and McGehee.
- Brad Ausmus and his support team of Gene Lamont (bench coach) Wally Joyner (Hitting Instructor), Rich Dubee (Pitching Coach), Rick Billmayer (Bullpen Coach) and Dave Clark (Third Base Coach Performer) are all suspect in judgment. Just now against Cleveland (Sunday), Miguel Cabrerra ran through third base coach stop signal to score a lead run. Miguel is not the most fleet of foot but his dieregard speaks volumes of the team's confidence in this coach.
When Cameron Maybon jammed his thumb, Ausmus could not exert any patience in allowing him to heal. Inserting Mayborn in center resulted in a loss of a defensive arm, alarming drop in a .400 plus batting average at home and abysmal decisions to hit and run and unnecessary steal attempts (one a sure out a slide would be embarrassing).
However, this latter half of August has seen a contender for the crown to spiraling downward fall into a fight for their life to secure a "wild card" slot. But, the Tigers had seven games remaining on the schedule with the Indians to whom they lost 12 games to this point. Tigers also faced crucial series against rival Kansas City and East Division surprise in the Baltimore Orioles.
the second half of August, the perennial winner in the AL Central found themselves a longtime natural rival. Twice during the past month the Tigers pulled within 2 games of the Indians first place in the standings. Our head on record was an abysmal 3 - 12. Twelve Losses to a team the Tigers have regularly clobbered under former manager Jim Leyland.
had their number in recent years. Making up a seven lead at the beginning of August with 10 weeks remaining is not a big deal for one of the hardest hitting line-ups in all of baseball.
September gave the Tigers an opportunistic seven head-to-head with Terry Francona's team. It is The Time for the 12 losses to the Indians a fluke, an anomaly against the odds and a streak that would certainly come to an end.
The Tigers were playing mediocre baseball hovering around .500 ball through much of the season. Post All Star game the team began to see some light in July and August despite key injuries to Jordan Zimmerman (SP), J.D. Martinez (RF), Nick Castellanos (3B) and Jose Iglesias (SS) the biggest DL losses to both offense and defense.
Tiger General Manager Avila has made some good moves and trades early on, but stood pat with a team he believed was a true contender at the July 31 deadline. Avila, rightly believes that our Tigers with a return of healthy lineup would give Manager Brad Ausmus a real chance to prove his knowledge of the game and lead this team.
Jim Leyland whose managerial skills were undoubtedly one the best and most respected in all of baseball over a historic career where he spent decades earning a long deserving elevation to management. Leyland somehow inspired his players to give more than their best.