Category Archives: Brad Ausmus

a new set of National fists


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

All of a sudden, Doug Fister is being traded to the Nationals for two left-handed pitchers with short names (Ian Krol, Robbie Ray) and one utility dude with a long name (Steve Lombardozzi). All of these cats are on the young side. None of them are everyday players: Krol is a reliever, Lombardozzi is an off-the-bench type, and Ray is a small child who has yet to pitch above AA. None of them are immediate impact players. None of them are tall majestic creatures with Hulk Hands. None of them have hilarious names. This is the trade that has been made.

They are all much cheaper, even combined, than Doug Fister alone, and this will theoretically allow the Tigers to take care of some outstanding financial business, such as sealing up Max Scherzer in the Tiger vault, and the acquisition of a Real Live Human Closer. So there is that.

I have been trying awfully hard to come up with a way to make this seem like a substantial win for the Tigers, and I just can’t quite do it. I guess I understand, in that I want the things Mr. Dombrowski wants (Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera, winning, striped polo shirts, etc), and retaining Mister Fister would make that more difficult? I guess? Striped polo shirts don’t grow on freebie trees, you know.

But I am not going to lie, I’m having a lot of trouble with this one. I am sure you could do some sort of complicated mathematic gymnastics to make a lefty reliever and a lefty prospect-ish pitcher and a scrappy utilikilt of a National multiply by one another to equal an established starting pitcher with a solid gold headline name like Doug Fister. Alas, I am but a humble person-who-draws-stuff. I am not good at math, especially not the fancy creative math that involves multiple blackboards and dramatic camera angles during movie montages about misunderstood genius, and I strongly suspect that it is this very type of math that is required to make sense of this trade from a Tigers perspective.

Deep breath, in DD we trust, keep calm and blog on. Here’s Brad Ausmus as a Maccabee. It’s still Chanukah, you know. And this news may have disrupted my Chanukah cartoon-posting plans just a bit, but we can still have this tonight.

the catcher returns


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

It’s been quite a while, but Brad Ausmus is coming back to the Tigers, now one more step up the baseball evolutionary ladder. Time, environment, and mutation have helped him make the natural– but by no means inevitable– evolution from catcher to manager. The Tigers’ previous manager of course has just decided to step gracefully off of the phylogenetic tree main branch to a spindly side branch of vaguely affiliated front office types. Nature, as you know, abhors a vacuum, and the ecological niche thus vacated looks to be filled now by Ausmus.

He will be new to the role, with no big league managerial experience. If you are experiencing sweaty, shaking flashbacks to Alan Trammell, that’s okay. Breathe deep. It is a perfectly understandable reaction. Remember that you control the memories, and the memories do not control you.

Ausmus is also awfully young to be handed the reins of a big league team– he is only 44 years old. Detroit just went from years under the control of Jim Leyland, a 68-year-old man who seems 85. How will the Tigers react to a relative whippersnapper, a guy definitely still hot enough to raise the eyebrows of their girlfriends, a dude only 6 years older than Torii Hunter? We’ll have to wait until Spring Training at least to see.

(Fun fact: Torii Hunter is significantly closer in age to his new manager than he is to Rick Porcello. He’s 6 years younger than Ausmus, but 13 years older than FredFred. This tells you more about the remarkableness of Torii Hunter than anything else.)

The official RotT line on this one is trepidation, mixed in with a lot of hopefulness. It is hard to imagine that someone so inexperienced will be able to handle personality conflicts or issues, should they arise, with the irritable aplomb that Leyland brought to the table. But Ausmus is a smart cat, and I so want him to do well, having loved him from his playing days. This will make it all the more awful should he fail. But I am willing to hope that he can swing it.

And how exciting is it to have the Tigers managed by A NICE JEWISH BOY? For RotT, it is incredibly exciting, because this is how we do it around here, ok. He instantly becomes the only current Jewish manager in the majors (as the Jerusalem Post has already noted), and rabbis everywhere are running around in small circles out of sheer excitement. Detroit Tigers yarmulkes for everyone!

the latest in RotT BlogNews

Just a couple of things Roar of the Tigers had been up to lately out there in the vast reaches of the Internet.

Thing the First:

Old Time Family Baseball has been running a blogathon. He blogged for 24 hours straight yesterday, and today has turned the site over to a series of guest posts so he can get some sleep.

The point? To fill the Tumblrs with all manner of baseball facts, fictions, weirdnesses and wonders. Also, to raise money for Doctors Without Borders, a cause arguably more important than, say, love poems about Vin Scully. If you haven’t already, you should totally go give them some money.

I will have a guest post going live there at some point today. The image up top is a little preview. You can keep an eye on OTFB, or just wait until I see it post and update this post with a direct link, but either way, seriously– go help make this baseball blogathon a thing of success and beauty.

ETA: Here’s the post! Go look, go donate!

Thing the Second:

The Society for American Baseball Research (which most of you may know as SABR) has an ongoing Baseball Biography Project. A while back, one of their biographers got in touch with me because of an image he had seen on this very website. He liked it so much, for some unspeakably deranged reason, that he wanted to use it for the SABR profile of that player.

And now the Roar of the Tigers touch shall forever be upon the history of LimaTime.

Paws help us all.

eta: Thing the Third:

Joel Zumaya has signed a deal with the Twinkies. As Jason Beck correctly points out, Target Field was where he threw the pitch that broke his arm and murdered his Tigers career once and for all. Fun memories, I’m sure!

Given the amount of time and hope the Tigers invested in him, it would be difficult to see Zoom come back 100%, or even 90%, with Minnesota. But we should remember that Zoom staying healthy for a full season now is about as likely as the life of a mayfly is long.

8 Nights of Jewish Tigers– Night Three

For the third night of Chanukah we have the… er, OK, he was here more recently than Kapler, but for the sake of this thing we’ll call him the sort-of third most recent Jewish Tiger.

Brad Ausmus

Ausmus played for the Tigers during part of the ’96 season, and returned to play again in 1999 and 2000. In ’99 he went to the All Star Game, and he won Gold Gloves in 2001 and 2002 as a catcher with the Astros. He’s never been an overpowering offensive force (as is true with most catchers not named “Pudge” or “Varitek”) but he hit over .265 in both of his full seasons with the Tigers, which isn’t bad (compared to, say… Vance).

Now 36, Ausmus is on the downward slide of catcherdom, and his arm isn’t nearly what it used to be. His reactions behind the plate are still supposedly pretty good, though, and his ability to work with his pitchers is highly and widely praised. He is (or perhaps by now was) pretty speedy for a catcher, stealing 16 bases in 1991 and becoming the first Tiger catcher since Bruce Kimm (’76) to hit in the leadoff spot (it was only for a few games).

Ausmus was attending Dartmouth when he was drafted by the Yankees, but refused to sign unless they agreed to let him take classes while in the minors (his initial balking may have also had something to do with the fact that he was a lifelong, diehard Red Sox fan). In ’91 he graduated with a degree in Government, making him one of the relatively few major leaguers to actually have completed college degrees, especially in real subjects that aren’t “general studies” or “kinesiology” or “beer” (Michigan State only).

It’s unclear whether he’s a practicing Jew (either religiously or ‘culturally’), but in any event he was born into a mixed marriage: his mother is Jewish and his father is not. He may have been bar mitzvahed, or he may not have been, but according to Jewish law, it’s the religion of the mother that hereditarily determines the religion of the child, so, practicing or not, Ausmus is in fact technically Jewish.