Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Leyland's future will depend on off-season deals and decisions, and team's' 2011 performance

    Jim Leyland's $4 million-a-year contract expires at the end of the 2011 season. The Tigers' skipper would very much like to return in 2012 and beyond. "When I'm not interested in doing this any more you'll know -- because I won't be here. I'll be home," Leyland said last week.
    But it is the decisions and deals the Tigers make this off-season, and how well the team performs next year when Leyland will again be a lame duck, that will determine his future and his fate.   
    "I don't ever want to be the problem," Leyland, the Tigers' longest-tenured manager since Sparky Anderson, declared. "If I'm the problem, they won't have to tell me. They won't have to fire me.  I'll know I'm the problem. And I'll be gone. There will be no fanfare, nothing. Just, 'Goodbye. See ya.' "
    Leyland, only the 18th man in baseball history to manage 3,000 games, turns 66 in December. If the Tigers decide to bring him back in 2012, he will be 67.
    "I don't feel 65 years old," Leyland insisted. "I might look it, but I don't feel it. I don't think anyone's saying we have some feeble old man as the manager. I have some spunk."
    But whether Leyland feels his age or not,  the clock is ticking.
    ESPN.com recently invited its readers to rank 15 of the top managers of all time. ESPN's list of 15 candidates included Leyland and Sparky, along with Walter Alston, Bobby Cox, Leo Durocher, Tony LaRussa, Tommy Lasorda, Connie Mack, Billy Martin, Joe McCarthy, John McGraw, Lou Piniella, Casey Stengel, Joe Torre  and Earl Weaver.
    Cox and Torre are stepping down at the end of this season, although I suspect Torre isn't necessarily done. Pinella has already pulled the plug on his managing career.
    Only Leyland and probably LaRussa will still be managing next year.
    The Dodgers have already named Don Mattingly to replace Torre. But the Braves, Cubs, Blue Jays, Mariners, Marlins,  Diamondbacks, Mets, Brewers,  Pirates, Reds and even the Cardinals might all also have new managers in 2011.
    Leyland isn't the only one who wants to stick around Detroit. Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge, Jeremy Bonderman, Johnny Damon, and Jhonny Peralta feel that way, too.
    Contrast that to the attitude that prevailed here 10 years ago when nobody wanted to come here and most of those who did, didn't want to stay.
    "Maybe they felt they didn't have a chance to win here," Leyland admitted.
    But that has changed.
    "Who would want to leave here," Leyland wondered. "Why wouldn't you want to stay in a place like this? What's not to like?
    "I don't think you're going to have a problem getting players to come here for many years."
    The credit for that goes to owner Mike Ilitch, to GM Dave Dombrowski, to the supportive Tigers fans -- and, yes, to Leyland.
    "I'm sure we've disappointed a lot of people, but overall I think, over the last five years I've been a pretty good manager," Leyland said.
    What do you think?

1 Comments:

Blogger msu1983 said...

Leyland isn't the only one who wants to stick around Detroit. Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge, Jeremy Bonderman, Johnny Damon, and Jhonny Peralta feel that way, too.
Contrast that to the attitude that prevailed here 10 years ago when nobody wanted to come here and most of those who did, didn't want to stay.
"Maybe they felt they didn't have a chance to win here," Leyland admitted.
But that has changed.
"Who would want to leave here," Leyland wondered. "Why wouldn't you want to stay in a place like this? What's not to like?
"I don't think you're going to have a problem getting players to come here for many years."
The credit for that goes to owner Mike Ilitch, to GM Dave Dombrowski, to the supportive Tigers fans -- and, yes, to Leyland.
"I'm sure we've disappointed a lot of people, but overall I think, over the last five years I've been a pretty good manager," Leyland said.
What do you think?

============

The above section illustrates why it amazes me how many in this town continue to criticize Dombrowski & Leyland. As recently as only FIVE years ago, baseball didn't matter in this historically baseball-rich town.

Having said that, I said a couple of weeks ago that I felt Leyland was only a borderline HOF manager, suggesting his longevity might actually diminish his career highlights and actual accomplshments, but that one more World Series might solidify his spot in history.

And to your specific question, while I tend to agree with Sparky that many fans over-estimate the importance of a baseball manager, win or lose, there is no doubt that Leyland has imparted his mark and professionalism on this franchise as a very good manager.

I still need to understand his refusal, though, to move up his starting pitchers by one day in last year's final series against the White Sox. We got Figaro last year while San Fran last night got Lincecum in the same situation. Not using Verlander and/or Porcello on three days rest was an odd (stubborn?) adherence to strategy....

September 30, 2010 at 11:58 AM 

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