Trammell's Time as Manager Should Come to an End

In 2002, the Detroit Tigers were in shambles. There was no money available, a lack of star players, a barren farm system, and a general lack of hope and interest in a team that lost more games than any other team in the 90's. The franchise needed a recognizable name to revive interest. But that was then, and this is now. And now, Alan Trammell's time has come.

It has been a rocky road since manager Alan Trammell took over a team of misfits and minor leaguers that either weren't ready or simply weren't talented enough. Trammell was a rookie manager, and made rookie mistakes, but certainly he couldn't be held responsible for a team that lost 119 games.

But that was then, and this is now.

In 2004, the team was no longer a group of misfits. President/GM/CEO Dave Dombrowski went out and brought in solid veterans, including future hall-of-famer Ivan Rodriguez to help re-make a team that needed not just a facelift, but rather reconstructive surgery.

The moves were made, and the talent was there. The trend continued this past offseason, highlighted by the acquisition of Magglio Ordonez. The Tigers no longer sent out a lineup worth laughing at, but rather a lineup that can be intimidating. The pitching like-wise has come along, ranking in the top half of the American League in ERA.

But that hasn't seemed to make a difference when it comes to the productivity of the Detroit Tigers. When it comes to winning ballgames, the Tigers haven't gotten the job done, and that falls on the shoulders of one man; Alan Trammell.

There is no perfect science in evaluating a manager, as so much of his job is based on subjective information and personal opinion. A manager can be second-guessed to no end, despite the fact that hindsight is 20/20.

But all of that doesn't change the fact that the Tigers have underperformed for the second straight season. Trammell continues to make the same mistakes over and over again, refusing to be prepared for the worst, and never allowing his hitters to get in a groove.

There's no better evidence of this than Chris Spurling's outing a couple weeks ago in Chicago, and his handling of the leadoff position.

In the Spurling situation; Spurling entered the game with a three run lead. Spurling has been very reliable all year long, but trying to protect a lead against the best team in baseball is no easy task, and Trammell should have been ready to look to someone else should Spurling not have it.

The very first batter he faced, Paul Konerko, promptly parked a home run in the left field seats. At that point, a siren needs to go off, and someone else needs to be getting ready. But that didn't happen, and Spurling went on to allow four more runs, including back to back home runs. Suddenly, the Tigers were looking up at the White Sox, a team that has been better than almost any other in close game situations.

The worst part; Trammell refused to acknowledge it was a mistake (or that any decision he's ever made has been a mistake).

The leadoff situation has been yet another debacle. Trammell started the year off nominating Omar Infante as his leadoff hitter, despite being just 23 years old, still learning the fine points of the big leagues, and having an on base percentage of just .317 (which is below league average, let alone average for a leadoff hitter) in what was considered his break out year. That changed quickly, and from that point forward, Trammell has nominated Brandon Inge, then Nook Logan, then Placido Polanco and even Curtis Granderson to hold the spot.

Often times players get frustrated, if for no other reason than they can't get into their own groove. Trammell has never allowed his hitters to get into a groove, get to know the spot they'll hit, and the players they hit around.

In 2003, lineup shake-ups were necessary, if for no other reason than the Tigers didn't have nine guys that deserved to be in the lineup on a daily basis.

But that was then, and this is now.

Trammell's lack of creativity has also hamstrung this team as they have tried to improve and make a run at the playoffs.

Trammell has refused to put his players in the best situation to succeed – never would be bring his closer in (whoever that may have been at the time) with two outs in the 8th inning to record the final four outs, rather than simply pitch the ninth.

Trammell has also shown carelessness in substitutions, leaving defensive liabilities in games all too often when better replacements exist on the bench.

In 2003, the young guys deserved a chance to prove they could handle the job, and pitching substitutions could still be done by the book, especially with a young group so new to the game.

But that was then, and this is now.

Not happy with pure speculation and subjective arguments? Let's take a look at hard statistics.

The Tigers are currently 12-17 in one run games, yet again a losing record in extremely close situations. In 2004, they were even worse, at 12-27. A manager's decisions become critical in close game situations, and thus far, the Tigers aren't coming up on the upper hand of those situations.

Want yet another indicator of the Tigers shortcomings? Based on their strength of schedule and players' production, Baseball Prospectus has a stat called third order wins and losses – what a team should be playing at given their production. The Tigers record under this theory? 54-50. That as opposed to 50-54, the Tigers current record. That means other factors (read: Trammell and his decisions), besides the way this team has played, has led to their sub-.500 record.

Care to take a guess where that record would put the Tigers in the wild card hunt? Try tied with Minnesota just four games back of the wild card leading Oakland A's.

If that was the case, it's very possible that Dave Dombrowski doesn't ship closer Kyle Farnsworth to Atlanta as the Tigers would still be within striking distance.

The stats could be continued to be piled up against Trammell – but they tell the same story over and over again.

Supporters of Trammell argue that he has been instrumental in the development of youngsters like Jeremy Bonderman; but where was this magic touch with Carlos Pena, or Alex Sanchez, or Omar Infante? Plus, let's not overlook the fact that Bonderman was talented enough to make it to the big leagues at just 20 years of age – a player that talented arguably should become the pitcher he is today.

In 2003, the Tigers were in disarray. A name was needed to draw fans, and a rookie manager brought up under the tutelage of a Hall of Fame manager in Sparky Anderson was a smart bet.

But that was then, and this is now. And Trammell's time has come as Tiger manager.

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

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