To anyone paying attention, Brad Ausmus' tenure as manager of the Detroit Tigers was as good as over. His job was in jeopardy even before his boss, former president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, was unceremoniously fired in early August. It was maybe a bit of a surprise that Ausmus wasn't let go at that time, but an argument could be made for allowing him to play out the year and beginning a manager search at that time. So for that reason when reports began to surface this week that Ausmus would be fired at season's end, the proper response could only be, 'No s---, Sherlock."
However, when a longtime sports anchor like Detroit television station WDIV's Bernie Smilovitz reports it, the issue becomes too big, too talked about, for the Tigers to continue to ignore. GM Al Avila's hand was forced, causing him to announce that no decision had been made:
"I have stated several times since becoming Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager that we are evaluating all personnel, and know that includes the players, the manager and his staff, and minor league operations," Avila said, re-iterating a point he made during his opening press conference in August. "In fact, I reconfirmed with Mr. Ilitch and manager Brad Ausmus this morning that these evaluations are on-going and decisions in any of these areas will be made by the end of the season."
By the end of the season. A well played turn of phrase to be noted, allowing for the possibility Ausmus could be let go at any time while still providing cover if the team's lame-duck manager is retained for the final three weeks or so of the season.
Ausmus, for his part, took it all in stride as he spoke to the media Friday afternoon. Via the Detroit News, he said:
"I am very comfortable with where everything is right now." ...
"I love anonymous sources. They don't quite have the spine to put their name to their words. But that's coming from above me. It's not my concern. My concern is this clubhouse and the field. I am not worried if there are multiple voices coming from above me. I can't control that."
Without doubt, this is not the end of this story.