With the announcement that Brad Ausmus will not be brought back to manage the Detroit Tigers in 2018, we can now speculate on candidates to fill the vacancy. General manager Al Avila has promised a thorough and extensive search for the Tigers’ new skipper, with just a few parameters:
The new manager will either be a manager in the minor leagues, a major league coach, or have managerial experience in the major leagues. Curiously, this would have ruled out Ausmus when he was hired to manage the Tigers four years ago.
Avila said that any of the current Tigers coaches could be interviewed, or could return to coach, but that would be a decision for the next manager. He also suggested that minor league managers in the Tigers’ organization would not be considered, so that would rule out Erie manager Lance Parrish and West Michigan manager Mike Rabelo, both former Tigers’ players who have drawn accolades for their work in the minor leagues. Toledo skipper Mike Rojas was dismissed at the end of the season.
Current coaches who might draw consideration would include Lloyd McLendon, who has managed the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners, as well as managing Toledo in 2016; Gene Lamont also managed the Pirates, but would be the ultimate non-change candidate. Omar Vizquel is popular with players, but has no managerial experience, and the areas that he has been responsible for coaching are among the Tigers’ greatest weaknesses. Leon “Bull” Durham, in my view, is the one coach who should be retained, but as a coach, rather than a manager.
Alan Trammell was hired to manage the Tigers in 2003 in a rebuilding situation, and suffered the growing pains of three losing seasons, to be replaced by Jim Leyland. He appeared to be in over his head at times, and his termination was a foregone conclusion in 2005. He went on to serve as bench coach with several organizations and is currently a roving infield instructor in the Tigers’ organization.
Kirk Gibson was Trammel’s hitting coach and bench coach with the Tigers and went on to manage the Diamondbacks for four seasons, winning 94 games in 2011. Health would be a big concern as Gibby has Parkinson’s disease. While he has admirably come back to a regular position as Tigers’ broadcaster and demonstrated knowledge of advanced concepts, he may not be able for the rigors of an every day big league managing job, especially for a potential 100-loss club.
Fredi Gonzalez managed the Marlins for four years and the Braves for six years, compiling a winning record from 2007-2016 while working with quite a lot of very young players. At age 53, the Cuban-born Gonzalez, who is currently a coach for the Marlins, will be considered for most managerial openings this winter.
Manny Acta’s name keeps coming up whenever there is a managerial vacancy, though he managed the Nationals and Indians without success in either job. He worked eight years as a manager in the Astros organization and was the youngest manager in the major leagues at age 37 when he was hired by the Nationals. Acta is still just 49 years old.
Ron Gardenhire would be the ideal choice if the Tigers are looking for an old school manager who has professed his opposition to using advanced metrics. Although he led the Twins to six division titles in 13 seasons, and was well respected by players and fellow managers, it seems that the game has passed by the 60 year old Gardenhire.
Jim Leyland (72), Joe Torre (76) and Tony LaRussa (72) are all happily retired from managing, and working in lower stress positions around MLB. There is as much chance of them managing this team as Mayo Smith.
MLB coaches/ Minor league managers:
Joe McEwing, the current third base coach for the Chicago White Sox, is thought to be one of the up and coming managerial candidates in the game. The 44-year-old former major league player has nine years playing experience, and was twice named manager of the year with Class A Charlotte in the Carolina League. He has been coaching for nine seasons in the Chicago organization, but has less managerial experience than any of the other candidates mentioned here.
Tony DeFrancesco In 2015, was a minor league coach and manager for the Athletics farm system for 14 years. He spent six seasons as manager of the Sacramento River Cats and one season as third-base coach for the A’s. He moved to the Astros organization and was their interim manager in 2012 after Brad Mills was fired. In 2015, he managed the Fresno Grizzlies, Astros, to the Triple-A national championship and was named Baseball America's Minor League Manager of the Year. DeFrancesco led Fresno to three winning seasons, with a record of 234-194 (.547) from 2015-2017, but will not be back for the 2018 season.
Tim Wallach interviewed for the Tigers’ and Mariners’ managerial jobs in 2013, and for the Dodgers position, losing out to Don Mattingly. He was named bench coach with the Dodgers and Mattingly brought him to Miami with him as bench coach in 2015. He served two seasons as the Dodgers’ hitting coach in 2004- 05. In 2009, he was named the manager for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes in the Dodgers organization. He led the Isotopes into the playoffs with a franchise record 80 wins and was named as Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year.
Current MLB managers:
Clint Hurdle, the current manager of the Pirates is said to be unhappy with the organization’s frugal spending habits. His contract is up at the end of the season. The 60-year-old Hurdle managed the Colorado Rockies for eight seasons and the Pirates for seven campaigns, making five playoff appearances without a division title. The Rockies had seven straight losing seasons when Hurdle took over, leading them to a National League pennant in 2007 and a playoff berth in 2009. The Pirates had 20 straight losing seasons when Hurdle took control in 2011, leading them to three playoff appearances from 2013- 15.
Terry Collins is thought to be the most likely current manager to be available after this season.
Rumors have also circulated around Mike Matheny in St Louis, John Gibbons in Toronto, and Bob Melvin in Oakland.