DETROIT - What a mistake. The Tigers' World Series championship drought doesn't appear as if it will end anytime soon with the hiring of Brad Ausmus.
According to reports, Ausmus was in Detroit on Sunday to finalize a deal to replace Jim Leyland as manager of the Tigers. President and GM Dave Dombrowski is rolling the dice, to say the least. He is hiring Ausmus, a rookie to manage a championship-caliber team.
It makes no sense.
Ausmus has never been a manager or a coach, for that matter, in the big leagues. Worse, Ausmus never even held either of those jobs in the minor leagues.
Since 2010, Ausmus, a former Tiger catcher, has served as a special assistant for the San Diego Padres.
Detroiters have seen this movie before. Both Buddy Bell and Alan Trammell were hired with no experience and both were disasters.
Dombrowski has put his reputation on the line with this out-of-leftfield hiring. If this turns out to be a disaster - and there is a potential for that - Dombrowski will be held accountable for going with an inexperienced manager in a spot where you needed a proven skipper.
Sure, this seems to be a new trend, hiring managers who have never managed before.
We saw it in St. Louis in 2012 when Mike Matheny replaced the retiring Hall of Fame hopeful Tony La Russa.
The difference is the Cardinals were the defending champions. They won it with La Russa. They could afford to take a gamble.
A few weeks ago, the Washington Nationals replaced the veteran Davey Johnson, who retired, with Matt Williams, who never managed as well.
Still, this isn't St. Louis or Washington.
The Tigers are ready to win and had a $150 million payroll this season, fourth highest in MLB.
The Tigers were supposed to go back to the World Series for the second straight year this past season and actually win it.
That didn't happen. The Tigers lost to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.
Out of nowhere, Leyland announced that his tank was low on fuel and that he was going to retire from managing.
Hence, the Tigers needed a replacement that would bring championship know-how and credibility to the clubhouse.
It would be different if the cupboard was bare. But that was hardly the case. There were great choices to get the Tigers to the next level, their first World Series title since 1984.
Former White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen was out there. Former Philadelphia Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel, who won a title, was looking for work. Dusty Baker, who went to World Series with the San Francisco Giants, was available. All three are better choices than Ausmus.
The more you look at the guys who were interviewed, the more you think Dombrowski was looking to do things on the cheap.
By most accounts, Dombrowski also interviewed Los Angeles Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach. Tigers' batting coach Lloyd McClendon, who was a former big league manager in Pittsburgh, was also interviewed. We can only hope McClendon's look-see wasn't just a token interview.
The best man for the job, though, was Guillen.
First, Guillen has a relationship with Miguel Cabrera. Both are from Venezuela.
The Tigers had 15 players Hispanic players on their roster. Guillen speaks their language, can relate. Best of all, Guillen isn't afraid to call players out if they don't pull their weight.
Plus, Guillen won a World Series with the White Sox in 2005, ending the franchise's 88-year championship drought.
Guillen's resume is pretty impressive.
You can't say the same for Ausmus, 44, when he comes to managing. He played for four teams in the MLB, including two stints with the Tigers in 1996 and 1999-2000.
The Tigers' window to win a championship is closing. They won't be able to keep this team, with its bloated payroll, together much longer.
It seemed as if this team could win in 2014 with the right manager to lead the way. Now, it's up in the air because no one knows what to expect out of Ausmus.
If Ausmus fails, it will be the worst decision Dombrowksi has made in his tenure with the Tigers since he gave Dontrell Willis that $29 million extension.
Willis wound up winning two games in three seasons in Motown.
That was a mistake. And so is the hiring of Ausmus.
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