Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  By DAVE HOGG  |  Last updated 10/21/13

LAKELAND, FL - FEBRUARY 21: (EDITOR'S NOTE: IMAGES HAVE BEEN DIGITALLY DESATURATED) Manager, Jim Leyland #10 of the Detroit Tigers poses for a portrait during Photo Day on February 21, 2009 at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
DETROIT -- Dave Dombrowski wasn't giving out many hints about the next Tigers manager on Monday, but he said a lot when he talked about one man that he can't hire. "A year ago, there was one obvious candidate who stood out over everyone else that was available, and that was Terry Francona," Dombrowski said. "This year, there isn't one person like that." Dombrowski said all the right things while talking to beat writers after the formal press conference -- he's keeping an open mind and won't rule anyone out -- but he made it clear that he's looking for certain things as he searches for the replacement for Jim Leyland. "My preference has been to hire people with managerial experience," Dombrowski said. "That might not be managerial experience at the big-league level, but someone who has done the job and knows what they will be facing. "At other times, when you are putting together an expansion team or a younger team, you might want someone who is going to grow into the job. "In this situation, though, we're looking at a team that can win right now. We need a manager who will be prepared to help us do that." That's bad news for one of the hottest young managerial prospects out there, former Tiger Brad Ausmus. Ausmus was a candidate for jobs last season in Houston and Boston -- imagine how that could have changed things -- and he has interviewed for the opening in Washington. Ausmus' only experience as a manager, however, was with Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic. With Dombrowski pointing out that minor-league managerial experience could be enough, the door is open for third-base coach Tom Brookens, who managed in the Tigers farm system from 2005-09 before moving to a major-league coaching job. Brookens played for the 1984 World Series champs and won a championship with West Michigan. At the age of 60, though, he might have missed his opportunity at a top job. Bench coach Gene Lamont has managed in the postseason, taking the 1993 White Sox to the ALCS, and will certainly have Leyland's support. But Lamont turns 67 on Christmas Day, so he's also a question mark in terms of age. A third Tigers coach, Lloyd McClendon, also has managerial experience at the big-league level but has never managed a contender. Kirk Gibson? He's hugely popular in Detroit, and he's already shown that he can manage at a high level in the major leagues. Sadly for all the fans who have him on their wish list, Gibson already has a job, and there's no reason to think Arizona would let him go. It's also no secret that Gibson hasn't always seen eye to eye with the current Tigers braintrust, dating back to his time as Alan Trammell's bench coach. Dusty Baker will turn 65 during the middle of next season but has plenty of postseason experience. His two biggest negatives are probably related -- his tendency to overuse pitchers, and the fact that his teams have struggled late in seasons and during the playoffs. It's hard to imagine Dombrowski would want to turn Detroit's starting rotation -- the foundation of the team -- over to Baker, who is widely blamed for shortening the careers of pitchers such as Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. Another candidate would be Manny Acta, who's already interviewing for other jobs. At just 44, he's already managed for six seasons and would be a good fit on a team featuring several stars from Latin America. On the other hand, it's fair to question his ability, especially after the Indians went to the postseason this year under Francona after collapsing in the second half of 2012 with Acta at the helm. Maybe it will come down to another guy who became famous under manager Sparky Anderson -- albeit for different reasons than Gibson. Torey Lovullo, the man Sparky once compared to Johnny Bench, has been a success as a minor-league manager and is getting crucial postseason experience as John Farrell's bench coach in Boston. Lovullo is only 48 and has been considered for major-league jobs as far back as 2006. Is that enough to make Lovullo the favorite? No one knows the answer to that question other than Dombrowski, but don't be surprised if Lovullo is the guy who replaces Leyland.
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