Editor's note: All season long, we have been asking whether you approve of the job Brad Ausmus is doing as the Detroit Tigers' manager. By sheer luck, this month's poll coincides with one of Ausmus' worst mistakes of the season. The results should be interesting.
The Bless You Boys staff recently had a discussion about the current state of the Tigers and how much Brad Ausmus is to blame for how things have gone this year. What follows are some candid comments on the situation, minus a lot of cursing and appeals to animated GIFs.
Jeff: It irks me that people are putting 90 precent of the blame on the Tigers woes on Ausmus. Ausmus won 90 games last year with a much better talented team, but suddenly when the talent diminishes it's all the manager's fault. Of course I don't think the manager has that much impact on the game anyway.
FieldersChoice: This season isn't Ausmus' fault. But he's still not very good.
Jeff: I mean, how many more wins would the Tigers have without Ausmus? One, maybe two?
FieldersChoice: Ten, according to Huge.
Jeff: I'm just reaching the point where I'm tired of seeing everyone blame Ausmus for every little thing that is wrong with the Tigers.
Kurt: You can't also not blame him for not being very good.
Brandon: Agreed Jeff, though I'm not a bit impressed with him either. The team has had major injuries, and the two sketchy pieces of the rotation have both turned out to be liabilities. I hoped one would turn out alright. That plus JV, a pack of injuries ... it's not really Ausmus' fault. But he inspires zero confidence in me. I'm ready to move on at season's end.
Kurt: Blame him for everything? No. Blame him for a frequently flat team, bad decision making? Yes. Think the tigers can do better? Yes.
FieldersChoice: Kurt just did a triple-negative. I'm confused.
Kurt: It works out to "you can blame him" when you work out the math :)
Jeff: Ausmus has made some questionable moves, there is no denying that. But not 10 games worth of questionable moves.
Brandon: Sure. I'm not even sure I'd say he's cost us more than a game or two, tops. But, he's bringing nothing to the table either. He's not good at managing the staff, the team seems to lack a strong identity, and I don't see Ausmus ability as a catcher really translating anywhere either. That, was one thing I thought he'd be able to hang his hat on. That he'd be a real positive influence on the game calling, that we'd see real improvements in McCann's receiving, blocking, game-calling etc. Maybe he's helped him some, but I'm just seeing no pluses and a lot of questionable stuff.
Jeff: I'll make a bet with anyone that Ausmus will go on to a team in the future and make the playoffs again. He'll learn from his mistakes and get better players to manage. Joe Torre was awful at managing at first too.
HookSlide: It's not like Ausmus has had to work with a crap-heap for a team, though.
Brandon: That wouldn't shock me either Jeff. It's mostly about the talent you have. But is Brad going to get really good at this by next season? We're not really cut out to be a managerial training ground here. We've got 170 million dollar payroll.
Jeff: Probably not, but if the Tigers are not going to get the players to compete, then what's the point of getting a better manager?
Brandon: Because a better manager will get more out of his talent. Even more important when you have less of it. But I have no idea why anyone would think the Tigers aren't going to get the players to compete either. If they put together a strong second half, I assume Brad stays. He's got some built in reasons (injuries) as to why things didn't go well. When I wrote the "Is Brad Ausmus on the hot seat" article in the spring, I figured DD and Illitch aren't the type to change their minds about a guy real easily since they were impressed enough to take a big chance on him to begin with.
Kurt: Ilitch wasn't necessarily involved. Chris was running the team more than Mike at that point
HookSlide: This is/was a talented team. Certainly better than .500 over the last 200+ games.
Jeff: The Tigers are 2 games better than their Pythagorean win/loss record.
HookSlide: Jeff, I'd be more curious to know how their current Runs-scored/Runs-allowed numbers look against their pre-season projections.
Jeff: I remember PECOTA had them at 82 wins. Using the current Pythagorean winning percentage projected to 162 games puts them at 77 wins.
Kurt: The manager kinda influences runs scored and allowed too though. I don't like to use Pythag as a manager grading tool.
Jeff: FanGraphs had the Tigers at 85 wins preseason. Although they had the Indians winning the division at 86 wins. If a manager outperforms the Pythagorean W/L, I think it means something. How much, I don't know. The Tigers were 4 games better than their Pythagorean W/L last year.
Kurt: Maybe they'd have fewer runs allowed if the manager made fewer poor decisions.
HookSlide: Using Baseball Prospectus' original Runs-scored/Runs-allowed projections ... the Tigers' Pythagorean record right now should be 47-45 instead of 44-48. So they're outperforming their current Runs-scored/Runs-allowed, but they're under-performing their projected Runs-scored/Runs-allowed.
Jeff: But then again, if you lose 1-0 or 14-0, it still counts as 1 loss, which is the whole argument against Pythagorean W/L.
FieldersChoice: I'm with Kurt. A manager affects runs as much as wins ... Pythag isn't isolating his contribution at all. Never made sense to me.
HookSlide: Bullpen blowups would show up in the Pythag, but honestly, I think most of this is on the starting rotation.
Jeff: Is that pre-season, HookSlide? How do the injuries to Cabrera and V-Mart factor in? And Verlander for that matter?
HookSlide: Yeah, Jeff, that was the preseason projection. They should be roughly 419 runs scored to 408 runs allowed right now, but they're 413 to 432. Slight under-performance on offense, MAJOR under-performance on pitching.
Jeff: Well, Simon, Greene and Verlander were supposed to be much better than they are this year.
Jake: Right. Sanchez too.
FieldersChoice: If you want to blame this season on something, it's obviously the rotation. And to break that down further ... Verlander's injury, Simon being terrible, Green being terrible, and there not being any Plan B beyond Lobstein. Three of those things are DDs fault.
HookSlide: However! Given the problems of the rotation, I think it makes it that much more important for Brad to know how to use his bullpen. Can't afford those extra couple of losses due to running Joba out in the 8th, etc.
Jeff: What bullpen though? Do we blame Ausmus for not using Wade Davis?
FieldersChoice: Wilson, Hardy, and Alburquerque were squandered in losing games almost the entire first half.
HookSlide: Blame Ausmus for stubbornly sticking with Joba and not at least trying to use Hardy or Wilson in higher leverage situations.
FieldersChoice: They're not Wade Davis, but they should have been in front of Joba and Gorzelanny a long time ago.
HookSlide: Right. And that may finally shake out to only 3 or 4 losses, but the margin is too thin to withstand that right now. Hence, Brandon's point, I guess -- a better manager gets more wins out of the player's he's got.
FieldersChoice: He seems to be getting them in the right spots now, except for Wilson ... though Feliz looks like the new setup guy, which I'm very wary of.
Patrick O'Kennedy: One problem with estimating how many wins a manager is worth is that you don't know what moves he made that worked out well, that another manager would not have made. You don't see reports of how a manager won a game with savvy managing.
HookSlide: That's why I prefer Sparky's formula, Patrick -- a manager doesn't get credit for wins, but he does get the blame for losses.
Brandon: Brad was very slow to recognize that Hardy and Wilson were his two best relievers after Soria. We've also seen him pull starters again and again right after they gave up runs late in their outings. That's bad management. No argument that knowing when a guy is toast is difficult, and that you need to get what you can from your starters, but Brad has shown ZERO feel for that IMO.
Patrick: I see no excuse for sticking with Joba so long, or automatically promoting the anointed one to set up duty ahead of Wilson or Hardy, or burning up Wilson in games where we're down 7- 1, etc.
After that, the conversation quickly degenerated and most of it was not fit for print, but you get the general idea. So what do you think? Is it time for Brad Ausmus to go? It is time for Dave Dombrowski to go? Is this more of a talent-on-the-field issue? Let us know in the poll below.