“Leylandism” is Officially Dead
‘Aus’picious Coaching Hires for the Tigers
Brad Ausmus is the right mix of the Ivy League and the real world. The down to earth graduate of Dartmouth understands winning doesn’t have to be pretty. You work for it. You gain every edge you can find and exploit it. Don’t expect the Detroit Tigers to be standing still on the base paths waiting for the three run home run. He also cares deeply about defense and watching him catch was a true joy. He routinely gave up his body, preventing runners from advancing on balls many would have let go to the backstop. For Brad’s sake let’s hope the Tigers retain Max Scherzer thus saving him many painful trips to the mound. He bleeds baseball and he has put together a coaching staff who does the same.
The latest and least publicized addition is defensive coach Matt Martin. Regardless of the lack of publicity, Martin will have a huge impact. I refer you to this article by Gabe Kapler for some more authentic insight into the man that Martin is. The Tigers have played uninspired defense for too long (save the recent injection of Jose Iglesias the Tigers have been playing defense more like Motor City Kittens). An unconventional coach like Martin who is not afraid to tell anyone what he thinks is going to shake things up. The focus on both sides of the plate is going to be on aggressiveness. Possibly Martin will even teach Prince Fielder how to slide.
Perhaps newly added first base coach Omar Vizquel will be the man to instill base running etiquette in “The Prince”. What’s for certain is that Vizquel knows how to swipe a bag and his experience reading pitchers (404 career stolen bases) and 24 years of playing in the big leagues will lead to a much more vigorous running game. Also, he knows how to bring the leather. He may be the only living human who could mentor Iglesias defensively. I smell a restoration of the Tiger’s roar.
Tom Brookens is out as the third base coach. Brookens is well respected, smart, and usually pretty wise. However, he made a huge blunder in the post season sending Miguel Cabrera home when my grandmother probably could have thrown him out. Detroit fans love him for the past, but it won’t be hard to say goodbye. In comes Dave Clark who the new manager knows and respects well. Clark had stints managing in double and triple A ball as well as coaching first and third for the Houston Astros. According to Ausmus “I imagined since I began thinking of managing that he would be on the staff. I was very excited he wanted to come to Detroit”.
Finally, Wally Joyner the lifetime .289 hitter takes over as the new hitting coach. Joyner was also quite the first baseman and committed less than one hundred errors in his sixteen year major league career. He will be a great influence on players like Jose Iglesias, Austin Jackson, Hernan Perez, and Nick Castellanos. It is certain the Tiger veterans know how to handle the bat during the regular season. Fans in Detroit will welcome any improvements Joyner offers if they see the postseason again.
The wisest move Ausmus has made is retaining Jeff Jones oversight of the pitching staff. Jones knows their two Cy Young winners well and fans have seen vast improvement in Rick Porcello‘s efforts in the last couple of years. Reportedly Mick Billmeyer will follow Joyner over from the Phillies and become the bullpen coach.
Brad Ausmus has assembled his dream team and it’s rather impressive. Expect hard-nosed play and a desire to win to make a return to Detroit. Expect to see the Tigers score many, many more runs in 2014. Expect to see a long overdue display of fundamental baseball in D-Town. Most importantly, expect to see the Tigers bring the leather and become much stronger defensively. Expect to hear no more meowing, only the sustained roar of a well-coached powerhouse lineup.