Foster: Tigers need new leader if they want to win now

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Detroit – The Tigers must make a decision. Are they all in or not?

Is the championship window of opportunity still open or is it time to rebuild?

If the Tigers are all in on the field, they must be all in at manager, too. Brad Ausmus might have a bright future but the Tigers need more experience at that position.

If the Tigers were all in, they'd place a call to fired Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. Yes, it would be a bold move, but the Tigers are in an unusual position.

If they are all in, they need more experience on the bench. Gardenhire, 57, has enough knowledge to be a difference-maker and enough energy to wake the Tigers up.

If they decide to build for the future, they might as well bring back Ausmus and let the team grow with the manager.

I'd like to see the Tigers be all in. It makes for more excitement around here. A number of fans I spoke with following Sunday's 2-1 loss want the same. Emotions spilled out all over downtown as people talked more about Ausmus' botched Game 2 performance than Sunday's feeble loss.

They blame a manager who made bad choices and I agree with them. How can you parade out the same losing strategy in the eighth inning twice in a row?

Joba Chamberlain has not been good in more than two months. The Tigers have a pretty good relief pitcher in Al Alburquerque, but he never saw the mound.

The Tigers need better leadership if they want to win a championship. Gardenhire is a respected manager who won six division titles with the low-payroll Twins. He is a man with fire in the belly, something Tiger fans love. He's been ejected 72 times from games and can add a spark to the dressing room.

And he would make better decisions because he has experience. I never understood why the Tigers went with youth at manager when Jim Leyland retired. This was not a rebuild. This was a team trying to win a title.

Sadly, the Tigers' window of opportunity might have passed. They went to two World Series but failed to win a title for owner Mike Ilitch. All the free agents claim they want to come back, but players always say that until they bolt.

Gardenhire detractors will tell you he is the Bo Schembechler of the postseason. Bo had wonderful seasons as Michigan football coach but flopped in bowl games. Gardenhire is the only manager in baseball history to make six postseason appearances and not go to a World Series.

I would counter by saying he did not have great talent. He squeezed all he could out of that organization.

I do not blame the Twins for firing him. It was time for a new voice. The same is also true of the Tigers. If they want to climb higher they need a new voice and new direction.