The Detroit Tigers have found a replacement for Jim Leyland in former Astros backstop Brad Ausmus. Ausmus had been working with the San Diego Padres as a special assistant and managed the Israeli national team in the World Baseball Classic. He was interviewed by several of the teams with managerial openings before settling on the Tigers.
Jim Leyland had managed the Tigers since 2006, bringing home two AL pennants and posting a 700-597 win-loss record. He stepped down from the position on October 21st, saying it was time for a younger manager in Detroit.
That's what the Tigers have in Ausmus. He was catching as recently as 2010, with the Dodgers, and is regarded as one of the best backstops of his generation.
Ausmus spent parts of three seasons catching for the Tigers in '96, '99, and 2000. He was a career .251/.325/.344 hitter and won three Gold Gloves in his 18-year career.
Comparisons to the Cardinals Mike Matheny are sure to come, but only time will tell if Ausmus' style will resemble other catchers-turned-managers. Current Tigers catcher Alex Avila stands to benefit from Ausmus' presence, after having something of a down year behind the plate.
NPR did an interesting interview with Ausmus shortly after he retired where he speaks in detail about what it's like being a catcher in the Big Leagues. You can also listen to the interview on NPR's website.
The Tigers will face a few tough choices this offseason, but should be able to field a competitive team for Ausmus to manage.