Garden-Hired: Tigers Opt For Experience With Manager Decision
Gardenhire's previous job was as the Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach and he comes with over 2,000 games of managerial experience with the Minnesota Twins. While he is the most qualified and experienced candidate on the market, was he the right choice for Detroit?
Gardenhire's arrival would come with a looming rebuilding project and years of losing ahead for the Tigers after shedding a lot of payroll in the 2017 season. Al Avila made it clear the team was looking for a manager with professional experience (or not another Brad Ausmus situation).
But the thing about all of this is it seems like the Tigers have done their manager hiring philosophies in reverse post-Jim Leyland.
After Leyland was ousted and Detroit's payroll was still sky high and World Series proclamations weren't entirely far fetched, a guy like Gardenhire made sense to try and will the team to a World Series victory. He had all the experience in the world including more than a few postseason runs in Minnesota. Instead, the Tigers opted to break in a fresh faced manager who, even though he earned a playoff appearance in his time with Detroit, eventually flamed out.
Now with at least a couple years of losing expected by many, the team is bringing in a manager with a ton of experience when it would seem like now would be the more appropriate time to let a new-er manager get their feet wet with experience.
Gardenhire knows his way around a pitching staff, and at the major league level there's no doubt he will be a great aid to guys like Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris as they continue to develop into the top of the rotation guys they were projected as. But past that when you remember that Ron Gardenhire doesn't "believe in all that stuff" where the "stuff" is analytics, you really have to question what the Tigers are thinking here.
If he's a stop gap manager to bear the brunt of the losing while the Tigers rebuild into contenders that is one thing, but given how Tigers managers in the recent past have stayed on perhaps longer than they should have, there isn't a lot of confidence inspired to say that once the Tigers are back in contention that they won't be stuck in the past with somebody who doesn't like to look at advanced statistics.
When you consider the emphasis on scouting and analytics made by the Tigers at the end of the 2017 season, you can't honestly expect this to be a happy marriage when some expectations are actually put on to the team. Something about teaching an old dogs new tricks seems to fit here.
It's a safe move by Detroit but it is also a head scratcher. Embracing analytics and advancing into the 21st century of baseball, with a relic of the past who will trust his gut way more than numbers will. Whenever the rebuild is through and the Tigers are back to contending for championships, it will be interesting to see how much of a hand in that Gardenhire will have.