Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Should Alan Trammell Return Next Year As Tigers Manager?

Managing can be a lonely job

Last year I wrote a column that wondered, basically, how the Tigers could ever fire Alan Trammell. I said it already was, at that time, difficult to imagine the Tigers NOT being managed by Tram – he seemed firmly set, even in his second season.

Now, if he’s firmly set in anything, it might be cement boots.

Just one year later, Alan Trammell’s name is slowly turning into mud. The whispers actually started last year, but most of those folks were ignored; it was too soon, cooler heads said, to accurately judge Trammell as a big league manager.

But after 112 games in 2005, those whispers have not only gotten louder, they’ve gotten more frequent and have gained credibility. The Tigers sit at 53-59, once again hopelessly out of the playoff hunt, even the wild card variety.

Like I’ve indicated here before, Trammell may be in over his head a bit with this managing thing, now that he has genuine big leaguers to guide. On paper – ahh, the dreaded words – the Tigers’ lineup seems formidable. Yet, they have trouble scoring runs. The pitching staff has been above average, yet the team still can’t win because the offense has been inconsistent. Does Alan Trammell go to bat? No, of course not. Does he pitch and play defense? No. But neither has any manager who’s ever been fired, unless you’re Lou Boudreau or Frank Robinson or one of those other playing managers from the days of yore.

So it’s not about Trammell doing it on the field himself. It’s about how he can motivate his players to do so. And it’s also about in-game strategy, which has been suspect. How else can you explain the ills of a club who, by rights, should be bobbing along a few games over .500?

The feeling is here that Alan Trammell should get one more season to prove himself. I never have liked the idea of firing managers every couple of years, especially when Year One in Tram’s era was a mockery of big league baseball. So next season would be, in my eyes, his third season of managing genuine major leaguers. By then, we should certainly know whether he has what it takes.

I must say, however, that I am getting the sinking feeling that Tram is the guy that takes you from Point A to Point B, but that another man may be needed to go from Point B to the playoffs, which I guess is Point C under my logic. Call it point-to-point managing.

The other night the Tigers managed to win one.

"We’re going to keep battling,” Rondell White said afterward. “There are a lot of games left to be played.”

That’s something, I guess. Maybe Trammell hasn’t lost the troops after all. That buys him another season, too, in my book.

1 comment:

Ian C. said...

I'm glad you're writing about this today, because the fire definitely seems to be increasing under Tram's behind. It'd probably be a mistake to interpret internet rantings as the overall sentiment of the fans, but I'm sure reading a lot more dissatisfaction about Tram lately.

I can't imagine Tram being fired either, but these last two months could be a telling sign. Can Tram get what appears to be a steadily fracturing clubhouse together? Can he get his players to forget about the Farnsworth trade and just play baseball? If this team falls flat on its face, it reflects poorly on the professionalism on this team. And whose head would that ultimately rest on?