DETROIT -- Fans didn't want the Detroit Tigers to keep Brad Ausmus around as the manager after the 2015 season. For those on the team, those feelings couldn't have been more opposite. At the end of the day, that's what it comes down to.
"He always shows up the same time every day," Ian Kinsler said after the Tigers' 6-2 loss to the Twins. "He never gets out of control or emotional too many times. He's very even-keeled. And as a manager, that's what you want. He's extremely knowledgeable of the game and he knows what he's doing.
"He's gonna be our manager next year, so deal with it," he added somewhat sarcastically. "I don't know what to tell you."
Plain and simple, that sums it up quite well actually -- and gets straight to the point. The players didn't want there to be a search for a new manager in the offseason. For their part, they've appreciated what Ausmus has done for them, how he's managed the team both in the clubhouse and on the field. What the Tigers see from Ausmus aren't the same aspects that the fans do. What has stood out for them has been Ausmus' consistency, as well as his approach to the individual players -- and treating them like a human being.
Former Tiger Torii Hunter remarked that if anything, Ausmus hasn't gotten nearly enough credit for how he's managed the team every day. James McCann said he's learned a lot from Ausmus in this season alone, and that it's not fair to write off not just the team, but also Ausmus next season. Especially when the current one hasn't even ended yet.
"Sometimes the right decisions are the unpopular ones," Alex Avila said. "A guy that's willing to work and learn, obviously. You don't play 18 years for nothing. He's extremely knowledgeable, not only the aspects of going from game to game, but knowing people, being able to interact, cater to human beings. Which is easy to forget for people, when you're not in here, in the clubhouse on a daily basis, that no matter how many times we're on TV, or how much money guys make in here, we're still a person."
If anyone's to blame, it's the players and not Ausmus, the players remarked. That's true of large portions of the game. The baserunning decisions, the offense, the defense, the starting pitching. All of that falls to the players to make the outs, get the hits, stay in the game long enough, record strikeouts.
The bullpen is tricky because while Ausmus didn't have many tools to use, those he did have at his disposal, he struggled to use properly. And often it would backfire on him. Often, the lack of run support would compound the issue and the rough season has brought every single little detail to light for criticism. There's been a lot of doubt regarding Ausmus' ability to do the job, particularly with his bullpen management and how the 2015 season went.
But for the players, there's a comfort in knowing what they're getting in Ausmus next season. There's no guesswork. They don't have to build new connections, figure out what works best, the attitude every day, how the manager will approach the game. And especially for McCann, who has a lot of responsibility placed on his shoulders in his rookie season as the primary catcher, being able to learn from Ausmus has been invaluable.
"He's had a lot of impact," McCann said. "I've learned countless things from him. Just setting up on a pitch, from my set-up to how I receive the ball to game-calling, managing a pitcher, how to talk to pitchers, I've learned a lot and I know there's a lot more for me to learn from him.
"He played 18 years in the big leagues as a catcher. You don't do that without learning a few things along the way. So, I think one of the things, from a personal opinion, I'm excited about is to continue to learn from him."
Whether the decision to keep Ausmus around is the right one, is academic at this point. The players value and respect him as their manager. It's been a bad year and there have been a lot of injuries. If it hasn't been one thing it's been another.
However, the good thing about the offseason is there's a chance to wipe the slate clean and start the next season with a fresh look. So, everyone might as well wait and see what happens because Ausmus isn't going anywhere.