With one quick announcement Sunday morning the LA Angels first managerial search in two decades was over & former Detroit Tigers & current Angels special assistant to the general manager Brad Ausmus was the choice.
So let the rhetoric and the analysis begin as the LA Angels have chosen Brad Ausmus to be their 17th manager in club history. Ausmus beat out nine other candidates for the Angels job. So who is Brad Ausmus? Almost everyone knows Ausmus was a catcher for 18 seasons in the big leagues playing for four teams mostly with the Houston Astros.
Ausmus then became the manager of the Detroit Tigers for four seasons from 2014 to 2017 with mixed reviews. Ausmus managed the Tigers to a AL Central title in his first season, but then ended up with three years out of the playoffs and that was what ultimately got Ausmus contract to not be renewed. However, with the Tigers selling off almost all of its key players you could not blame a lot of this on Ausmus.
This is all well and good, but why was Brad Ausmus chosen to be the new Angels manager.
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1. Brad Ausmus and Billy Eppler are on the same page.
Despite saying all the right things Mike Scioscia and Billy Eppler never totally saw eye-to-eye in how to shape or even manage the Angels over the past three seasons the pair never were totally enamored with each other.
Eppler started retooling the roster and building up the farm system on a limited budget. The groundwork has been laid for the future and Eppler is banking on Ausmus being able to use the probability-based managing style that Eppler likes.
Ausmus worked right alongside Billy Eppler throughout this past season and it seems the two get along very well and are on the same page. Will this equate to success on the field will depend on a lot of variables most importantly the health of the pitching staff.
2. Brad Ausmus is a former catcher and they make the best managers.
Despite the way things ended with Mike Scioscia he was one of a long line of catchers who have achieved great things as a manager. Look at last year’s World Champions the Houston Astros who are managed by A.J. Hinch a former catcher. Bruce Bochy, the manager of the San Francisco Giants, has won three World Series in the past nine seasons and is also a former catcher.
This is not a guarantee for success but Ausmus definitely understands the game and should understand how to manage a pitching staff which many criticized Scioscia for not being able to do toward the end of his stint in Anaheim. This will be interesting to see how it works out this season.
3. Brad Ausmus deserves a second chance to prove himself.
Brad Ausmus has only managed for one major league team and the stint was very short (four seasons). It is a very small sample size to determine whether or not Ausmus is a good manager, but this will be tested as the Angels have a lot more resources than Detroit did during Ausmus’ tenure there.
Ausmus is hungry to prove that he can be a successful manager in the big leagues and he will get that chance with the Angels. He will have a lot more talent at his disposal than what he had in any year with the Tigers.
The biggest questions will remain are if the pitching staff can be effective for the whole season and stay healthy. Ausmus will also have to work with integrating the younger players into the line-up and see what they can do. David Fletcher, Taylor Ward, and possibly Matt Thaiss may make the Opening Day roster and could prove to be significant pieces for the 2019 Angels as well as young pitchers Jaime Barria and potentially Alex Meyer will develop.
1. Brad Ausmus does not have a track record of success.
While Brad Ausmus was the only candidate the Angels interviewed with major league managing experience it was not a very good managing experience when you look at his record of 314-332. Mike Scioscia when he was hired had no managerial experience and look what happened.
Who knows if Ausmus will know what to do when he has five starting pitchers on the DL like Scioscia experienced the past two seasons. For all the criticism of Mike Scioscia he was able to keep the Angels together even when the shit was hitting the proverbial fan over the last few seasons.
Will Ausmus have the know how to deal with this type of adversity remains to be seen? His intestinal fortitude will be tested and we will have to see how he will handle it.
2. Can Ausmus manage the Angels line-up?
The Angels line-up has some proven commodities, but then it also has some unknowns and some liabilities which Ausmus will have to address. One of the biggest questions
will be how will Ausmus handle the Shohei Ohtani circus. This will be an interesting situation to see how Ausmus will handle this. Ohtani firmly cemented in the Angel line-up could infuse some life into the Angels, but it could also be a distraction as well.
Albert Pujols is another big question mark. He has been dealing greatly over the past couple of seasons how will Ausmus manage Pujols’ time in the line-up as well as his position. This may prove to be too much for Ausmus to handle in his first season as the Angels skipper.
3. You don’t know what you got until its gone. Replacing a legend is tough.
Many Angel fans have been clamoring for Mike Scioscia’s dismissal over the past five seasons. However, these same fans may not realize how good a manager Mike Scioscia really was until he is not there this season.
Ausmus is replacing the best manager in Angels history in Scioscia, who won six AL West titles and a World Series as well as winning 1650 games which is 18th all-time in MLB History. This is a tough act to follow and the only thing that will stop the criticisms will be success. That may be hard with all the holes the Angels have to fill this off-season.
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All in all Brad Ausmus will have a challenging assignment in his first season as Angels manager, but we have to hope that Billy Eppler knows what he is doing in choosing Ausmus. This is now Billy Eppler’s team not Mike Scioscia’s. Eppler will live and die by the success of the team on the field and will not be able to hide behind excuses such as not having HIS manager in the dugout or his players on the field.
The only position players preceded Eppler’s tenure as the GM are Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Kole Calhoun. The pitchers that were there before Eppler included Garrett Richards, Nick Tropeano, Andrew Heaney, and Matt Shoemaker. Tropeano and Richards will not pitch in 2019 so the staff will be made up of guys that Eppler has brought in or seen develop in the minors.
Eppler will have to reshape the rotation and also retool the bullpen that was largely ineffective in 2018. So let’s see what kind of team Eppler and Ausmus will put together for 2019. This should be fun and hopefully success will follow.