Brad Ausmus doing best he can to shepherd underperforming Detroit Tigers

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MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers
Sep 14, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) in the dugout prior to the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is the captain of the “I’m Not Wrong” team right now. The Tigers lost another game last night and are in the midst of a terrible stretch of baseball.

Here are some of the comments from Ausmus after the game last night.

Here’s some more that MLive captured in a post game interview, responding to what a manager can do to help lead improvements:

“The manager can’t do much. The players play the game. You’ve got to stay positive, support them, obviously give them instruction whenever possible. The main thing is to keep grinding and working hard.”

Here’s the thing: He’s not wrong.

There is a lot of consternation and wringing of hands over the frustrating Tigers season. People are looking at the management of the team and not finding answers. However, Ausmus is correct. He doesn’t play the game – the players do. And those players are not getting the job done right now.

The Former Closer

We’ve got Francisco Rodriguez, who is unhappy about being a ‘mop-up’ guy these days.

Reality check, KRod: the team is better with you in the 9th inning. This is, of course, provided that you can get the win at a high percentage. That’s just not happening anymore.

The Bullpen (or is that really the issue?)

The bullpen is certainly an easy target. However, criticism of the relief pitchers has to come with some context. They are a tired group and are being overworked.

Why has the middle relief been under so much pressure? That’s because the starting pitching has trouble finishing the job. Last night was an excellent example. Justin Verlander is cruising right along and then gets flummoxed by a bunt in the 6th inning.

Jarrod Dyson was happy with the tactic and even thought that it rattled Verlander a little bit.

“I’d say I did my job,” he said. “I think he was kind of upset about it, but at the same time I have to play my game. I’m not going to let him dictate what I’m going to do. I’m going to go out there and continue to play my game.

That one little hit completely derails the train and another Tigers starter exits the game early. I’m frankly very surprised that a seasoned pro like JV got so mentally shook up after that play.

The Offense

Superstar slugger Miguel Cabrera was vexed with the managerial decision to make a few pickoff throws to 1st base the other night.

News flash, Miggy: it’s hard to take your critique of these situations seriously given your behavior. I’m all for fan interaction, but, fondling a patron’s beard lends very little credibility to the idea that your mind is chiefly focused on the game.

It’s not just the looseness with which Miggy plays the game. As of this writing, Cabrera has the worst batting average in his career since his rookie year. Only 7 home runs, 32 RBI, and 53 strikeouts already. He needs to get his house in order before he starts managing from first base.

I wrote about a leadership void on the Detroit Tigers back in May. Perhaps, this is just more evidence of that existing.

The reality is, the Tigers are slumping. The manager is frustrated. The players are frustrated. The fans are frustrated. I’m not sure what the answer is to get this ship turned around and headed in the right direction. Hopefully, the team can figure it out soon. If not, we could be headed for a total makeover sooner rather than later.