Criteria for next Detroit Tigers manager: Experience is paramount

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Al Avila announces Brad Ausmus will not return at Detroit Tigers manager next season. George Sipple/Detroit Free Press

With Brad Ausmus’ fate sealed, the focus now shifts to the Detroit Tigers’ future.

And general manager Al Avila’s first managerial search will be “extensive,” he said on Friday afternoon after announcing Ausmus’ contract would not be renewed for next season.

“We’re going to do a lot of thorough background work and we’ll have a good list of names that we’ll whittle down, little by little,” Avila said. “So it will be an extensive search and it will take some time.”

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And that search will get off to a sensible start if Avila’s criteria holds up through the process. Though he said the Tigers would be “open-minded” to all options, he said he wants a manager with major league or minor league managerial experience.

Ausmus’ inexperience loomed large over the four seasons of his tenure, in which the Tigers reached the postseason only once and are in danger of finishing in last place twice.

But Avila should go one step further: The next Tigers’ manager should have extensive major league managerial experience.

There are baseball men out there who fit the bill, such as former Twins manager and current Padres bench coach Ron Gardenhire, former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and former Rangers manager and current Braves third base coach Ron Washington.

The Tigers’ job will be much different next year than it was over the past four seasons. Whichever manager comes aboard will not be expected to win for the foreseeable future but their presence will be of the utmost importance as they mold young players during a rebuilding process.

Inexperience — both in the front office and in the dugout — is a major reason why the very experienced Tigers fell short for the past few seasons. Now, with a team that will largely consist of inexperienced players, Avila has an opportunity to hire an experienced manager, alleviating many unknowns that come with other candidates.

Gardenhire, 59, was the Twins’ manager for 13 seasons before he was fired in 2014. For his career, Gardenhire won six American League Central division titles.

Guillen, 53, won the 2005 World Series championship with the White Sox. He has managed nine seasons and was fired by the Marlins in 2012, after just one season at the helm.

Washington, 65, managed the Rangers to back-to-back AL pennants in 2010-11. He has managed eight seasons.

Those three represent the most battle-tested managers on the market, though another in the same mold — the Mets’ Terry Collins — could become available in the off-season.

With Gardenhire, the Tigers would get a man as well-respected as they come in baseball, with success to show for it. With Guillen, they would get a culture-changing leader, one with a Venezuelan background who is hungry to return to the game. Washington’s credentials align similarly with both Gardenhire and Guillen.

Other names to keep an eye on: Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond, who has three years of managerial experience and worked with Avila in Florida; Mariners third base coach Manny Acta, who has six years of managerial experience and is familiar with Avila; Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez, who has interviewed for managing jobs in the past; and of course, any internal and up-and-coming candidates.

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Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila announced Brad Ausmus will not return at the team’s manager next season. Detroit Free Press

Avila said those on the current staff who are interested in the position are free to apply. Both bench coach Gene Lamont and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon have extensive managing experience, though hiring from within would be going against Avila’s mindset of a new approach and a fresh start.

Though every off-season a number of unproven candidates are talked about, the Tigers should resist temptation to hire a manager based on their age, potential or implementation of analytics. From this point of view, it’s simple:  The Tigers need an established leader as their next manager.

Related:

Chris Ilitch committed to long-term ownership of the Tigers

Brad Ausmus ousted: What people are saying about Tigers manager

Contact Anthony Fenech: afenech@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech.

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Source : http://www.freep.com/story/sports/mlb/tigers/2017/09/23/detroit-tigers-manager-search-al-avila/695683001/

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