Like Team, Trammell Must Show Growth

Many observers have pinned the hopes of success for this season on the development of a number of young players that the Tigers need to produce to really push for a playoff spot. But there is one man being over-looked so far, and that's the man that makes the decisions on the field; manager Alan Trammell.

President and CEO Dave Dombrowski brought on Alan Trammell as the club's new manager two and a half years ago, largely because there wasn't a veteran manager interested in taking over a clubhouse full of kids, and partly because Trammell (along with coaches Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish) would bring back a handful of familiar faces to a team that was without them – even if those faces would be in the dugout rather than on the field.

But two years later, this is no longer the team that lost 119 baseball games. This team has experienced veterans, All Stars, and a fan base looking for success.

As a first time manager, everyone expects mistakes. Sometimes a manager will leave a pitcher in too long, not play by the percentages, or make a poor substitution. These things happen. But the goal is, over time, the manager should learn from these mistakes.

Unfortunately, Trammell is now into year three of his managerial career, and he has yet to show signs that he is really learning and ready to be a manager that can take this team to the next level.

Most will point to the ability to pull out close games as a sign of a solid manager, unfortunately that has yet to become an impressive statistic for Trammell. Through just 17 games this year, Trammell is already an unspectacular 1-5 in one-run games. In 2004, he was just as poor; 12-27. Of course, some of that can be blamed upon a poor bullpen and hitters that just couldn't get it done in the clutch.

But there comes a point where some things should balance out. Plus, with each passing year, the Tigers have added better relievers and better hitters that should improve that statistic. That hasn't happened yet.

Trammell (as well as Gibson) have also been regarded as player's coaches; coaches that can help develop young players along. But that reputation isn't exactly shining through, as youngsters like Eric Munson and Alex Sanchez have already been jettisoned due to lack of performance; and others like Carlos Pena still have yet to fulfill their potential.

This isn't to say that the Tigers need to look in a new direction and revamp a staff that hasn't gotten it done yet. Trammell should be given at minimum the remainder of 2005 to prove that he is indeed learning from his mistakes, and is better understanding how to manage a game.

But Trammell has his faults – his pitching changes rarely seem to have any rhyme or reason to them, he constantly shuffles the lineup, and he has his clubhouse favorites that receive (at times) unwarranted support and playing time. These are faults that Trammell must work through if he hopes to become a successful man at the helm of a ball club.

Trammell is still a well-liked manager in the clubhouse as well as by the fans of Detroit, but just as fans expect more of the team, more needs to be expected of the former shortstop and current manager.

Paul Wezner is the Senior Editor of Thoughts? Comments? He can be reached at

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