The great manager shuffle of the 2017/18 offseason is upon us.
First, the Detroit Tigers announced they would not be renewing Brad Ausmus’s contract for next year. The decision came as no surprise after several lackluster seasons in a row, culminating in the rock-bottom finish for the Tigers in 2017.
New York Mets manager Terry Collins also announced he would not return to the team next year, though his exit was not a firing. Collins, much like Jim Leyland with the Tigers, will move from a management role into a front office position next year.
Then on Wednesday morning, only days after their elimination from the ALDS, the Boston Red Sox announced John Farrell would not return as manager next season. This, naturally, has sparked a whole new flurry of supposition.
Ausmus has been on top of the rumor mill for the job in New York to replace Collins, and would be a solid fit for the Mets. The team isn’t necessarily looking to shake things up too much next year, and Ausmus is very much a stick-to-the-script kind of manager.
Which is precisely why he might be a strong contender for the Red Sox.
Under Farrell the Red Sox made a stirring turnaround in 2013, going from their worst season to winning the World Series in one year. He won AL Manager of the Year. In 2016 and 2017 the team made it into the postseason each year (both years they were eliminated in the ALDS). It’s safe to say that in spite of a terrible 2014 season, Farrell did well for the team (excluding that whole Apple Watch fiasco).
Now Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski wants something new, and there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t look to Brad Ausmus to take the role. Dombrowski was the GM in Detroit when Ausmus was originally hired. Ausmus also grew up a Red Sox fan, so helming a team he adored in his youth would be a fitting next step in his career. Likewise, the staid management methods employed by Ausmus in Detroit are not dissimilar to what the team came to expect under Farrell. Ausmus could, theoretically, fit right into the Red Sox machine without the team missing a beat.
For those exact reasons, the Tigers should avoid Farrell as a candidate for the open managerial job in Detroit.
What the Tigers need right now isn’t a proven winner. They don’t need a manager who plays by a very old, outdated rule book called How the Game Should be Played. The team, who find themselves in a rebuild era, needs a fresh approach, someone willing to work with young unproven players, take risks, shake things up, and do the unexpected.
Farrell, while having a better managerial record than Ausmus, is just more of the same.
The Tigers don’t need the same, they need something new, so the team can develop. A manager who doesn’t expect to win is essential, because the frustration of losing can often weigh on the whole team. If a manager is going to be successful with the new Tigers, it won’t be because he posts a winning record, it will be because he helps build a team who can work together, while also nurturing young talent.
So, while Ausmus could be a smart fit for the Red Sox, the Tigers should pass on John Farrell.