Former Padres Catcher as well as Padres front office special assistant to the GM, Brad Ausmus, has been selected as the surprise pick to replace Jim Leyland as the new Detroit Tigers manager. Ausmus inherits a team that won 93 games last year, and has a top tier payroll with superstars and egos like Justin Verlander, Prince Fielder, and Miguel Cabrera to name a few. Ausmus definitively debuts his managerial position with a team on top and with no room to learn on the job; as a catcher, Ausmus follows in the steps of a Joe Giradi, or a Mike Matheny who climbed into the manager role early in their career and with little or no experience going through the minors. Ausmus, Matheny, and Girardi are all catchers, and thus have direct experience and knowledge of what it means to hit as well as pitch. Yet in a team of young superstars, does Ausmus have the leadership and charisma to command the team? Ausmus has always held the respect of his peers for his intelligence and personality, and being only 3 years removed from playing gives Ausmus a chance to relate directly to players, and offers a stark change to the player-coach dynamic that the older Jim Leyland offered.
I’ve always liked Ausmus, as he hails from my alma mater at Dartmouth. We don’t have very many notable athletes in the professional leagues, insofar that Dartmouth is Division I, but does not offer athletic scholarships. Ausmus is one of our most notable athletes. As I’m writing this, I also recall a fellow classmate of mine making the Chargers for a short while, Lloyd Lee. Although Lee was a solid Dartmouth player, his path to the NFL was through the practice squad and working his way onto the team as a DB through injuries, to which Lee did make it onto the field for regular season games. Our most notable player is probably Jay Fielder, who experienced a small stint of success with Miami Dolphin as QB. Ausmus holds a special distinction from other baseball players as he was drafted out of high school, but choose to attend Dartmouth and participate in the minor leagues at the same time. His minor league status ended his NCAA career before it started, but Ausmus still participated where he could with the team. To me, this is just a measure of his character and his desire to accomplish things, and further make due with given constraints.
I wish Ausmus the best and I think he’ll do well, ala Mike Matheny. It`ll be a shame to lose Ausmus and his impact for front office, but its good to see former Padres grow and participate in their post playing days. And best of all, he’s going to the AL where we don’t have to worry about him as much. Good luck Brad.