I’m not pretending to be an expert when I say this. I’m merely stating my observations. But after witnessing the Giants’ sweep of the Tigers, it was time to go in a different direction. Jim Leyland, his cigarettes and the Tigers needed to part ways. Unfortunately, Dave Dombrowski thought differently in bringing him back.
From the moment he came to Detroit in 2006, it was clear that he’s a player’s manager. He treats his team like family and it’s apparent in how the player’s interact with each other in the dugout. He’s incredibly loyal and will defend his guys endlessly, which was proven when he refused to officially relinquish Jose Valverde of the closer’s role. But in the same breath, that loyalty had a negative effect on the team. Take Ryan Raburn, for example. There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe how terrible of a player he is, offensively and defensively. But for some reason, Leyland kept him on the team for an inappropriate amount of time. Same goes for Brandon Inge. Everyone wants to have a manager like Leyland, but from a fan’s perspective, I really don’t care. Raburn sucks so take him out.
Based on this season alone, it’s obvious that Leyland did not tap into the potential of his team. This is a team that has the best pitcher in baseball, a Triple Crown winner, and a mega power hitter. On top of that, you have a speedy outfielder in Austin Jackson and three solid starting pitchers in Fister, Scherzer, and Sanchez besides Verlander. And yet (said emphatically), the Detroit Tigers only managed to win 87 games where it should have been 95 at least. The division was won in the last week of the season where it should have been won by 15 games. And in the playoffs, they barely beat the Athletics and swept a minor league-esque Yankees team. Don’t get me wrong, I will never complain about a World Series berth, but I’m not impressed. These Tigers underperformed, no question about it. I have never witnessed a team who has been as hot or cold with bats and gloves as the 2012 Detroit
Tigers have been.
And while it all can’t be blamed on Leyland, he’s a factor. It’s his job to figure out what’s wrong with his team and fix it. You can’t keep plugging the Raburns, Inges and Boeschs into the lineup and hope that they’ll magically start hitting. What was most magical was how the Tigers transformed into the Yankees during the World Series. Throughout his entire tenure, I’ve always felt that Leyland had the tendency to over manage. He’d pinch hit when he shouldn’t or take a starting pitcher out too early when he faced the slightest amount of adversity or on the flip side, leave a relief pitcher in (cough, cough Valverde) when he was clearly about to give up a million runs. And related to this or not, in his six years, the Tigers made two World Series and came out with no championships. And not only did we lose, we got destroyed. It’s embarrassing.
Like I said before, Dave Dombrowski on Tuesday announced that Leyland and his coaching staff would be returning. While I’m disappointed, I can understand where he’s coming from. Are the Tigers better than they were before Leyland came to the team? Absolutely, and he should be commended for turning the team around. Leyland always knows what to say and is truly the dream manager from a GM and player perspective. But given the current roster, are they performing up to where they should be? Absolutely not. And it’s for that reason why I wanted to see Leyland in Florida next spring. Just not for spring training.
By: Derek Wolfe
(Photo by Keith Allison under a Creative Commons License)