In Defense of Jim Leyland

Leyland.jpgThe cacophony of cries to fire Jim Leyland during this lost Tigers season continues to amaze me. I just don’t understand what could possibly be gained by letting this manager go.

Before you send off that flaming comment to yours truly, hear me out.

Showing the door to Jim Leyland based on this season would’ve been like canning Alan Trammell after the 2003 disaster. What could Phil Garner or, heaven forbid, Luis Pujols have done with the roster Tram was saddled with that season?

Same goes for Leyland in 2010.

The club came into the season with considerable question marks at several positions and roles, including:

See a pattern here? And, when you add in Brennan Boesch‘s cooling off, the loss of Magglio Ordonez and, for a while, Brandon Inge, the fact the Tigers were as close to first place as they were in July is nothing short of a miracle.

Looking at all of this, what can be blamed on Jim Leyland?

Zilch.

Certainly we can all point to specific game-day lineups, in-game decisions and bullpen machinations — every manager is subject to those — but how can fans reasonably lay blame on Leyland when he, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, has to go into each game with the roster he has, not with the roster he wishes he had.

Buck Showalter, Bobby Valentine, Bob Brenly, Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, you name any manager — available or not — and there’s no chance they could do a better job with this team’s talent. None.

If there’s any blame to handed out this season, look in the direction of Dave Dombrowski, the architect of the roster. I’m not for firing him either because it takes a long time to correct nearly 15 years of losing, but if anyone in the Tigers organization should be feeling the heat these days it’s Double D.

Not Jim Leyland.

Okay, now you can tell me I’m nuts.

9 Comments

  1. I completely agree with you. For all the upside this team had at the beginning of this year, there were still a lot of question marks that hid the downside. Now we as fans are seeing what was behind those question marks. I think that Jackson and Boesch are going to be solid outfielders for years to come, and Detroit needs a slugger to compliment them in right field. As for the infield… I don’t think that Sizemore, Rhymes and Worth have what it takes -yet- to be everyday infielders. Maybe Detroit makes a trade to offload a couple of them and picks up a good prospect in return, or a solid everyday player who’s proven. Then all that’s left is to pick up a couple of left-handed arms, one for the starting rotation and one for the bullpen. That’ll be when the Tigers really start to contend.

  2. I agree that we overachieved this year, and that kept us in things for a while. We don’t have any depth, so once injuries hit, we were through. However, one thing that bothers me about Leyland is that every year, including 2006 (because we didn’t win the division, when we should have easily), we collapse in the second half of the season. Why is that? He has to take some blame for that. That, and the crazy resting of players at critical times…and the slotting of replacement players into the injured players spot in the lineup (instead of shuffling the lineup so that Will Rhymes isn’t batting leadoff, second or third). I’ll shut up now.

  3. yea i think the fire leyland parade should come to a halt. all the people CRYING for leylands head are the same ones that said well win 74 games this year, they are also the same people that said were playoff bound in june when we were hitting on all cylinders. i do believe leyland deserves some fault for the 2nd half slumps but leyland isnt the one taking the field every day. leyland isnt the big leaguer who makes millions of dollars and makes errors all game. after maggs, inge and guillen got hurt in the same week, did anyone else watch these games? the team gave up. they go out there to swing for the fence with a better luck next time attitude after they realize most of them cant routinely hit the ball over the fence. everyone is quick to blame mcclendon for the tigers hitting woes but unless you are a gaps hitter or you are miguel cabrera, its gonna be tough to hit in comerica, it is after all a pitchers park. we have what, 60 million coming off the books next year? lets hope the pizza king does NOT buy the pistons and keeps his money invested in the tigers and wings. the tigers could look real good next year with how their payroll looks. leyland is good for this franchise, now lets get him a team equally as good.

  4. While I agree also you do have to wonder why the tigers seem to fade every year in the second half of seasons. What not enough sprints in Spring. I don’t know the answer but these collapses need to stop. Also. How about not using your closer in the 9th inning when you team is up
    6-1. Letting a closer throw 60 pitches is not good managing. He has one more year but he Jim and DD need to deliver.

  5. Some of the things that Leyland does an says drive me crazy, I’ll admit. But this year’s collapse is not his fault. As much as anyone, I wanted to believe the Tigers had the talent to contend this year, especially after they went out and got Damon and Valverde. But this is, like a lot of people said in March, a transitional year.

    This will be an important offseason for DD, and next year, when the roster is tweaked and the payroll is better equipped to provide solid talent THROUGHOUT the roster, it will be time for Leyland to deliver. If not, THEN the calls for his head will be justified.

  6. Absolutely ridiculous to claim that none of the listed managers couldn’t do a better job guaranteed. You have absolutely no knowledge or facts to back up such an absurd statement. One FACT is that Leyland’s teams have ALWAYS tanked in the 2nd half in Detroit. Fire him, drop some of the dead weight and lets move on.

  7. Rake,

    I think you’ll agree that if any of those managers I mentioned were suddenly in Detroit it would not mean that Gerald Laird or Alex Avila will start hitting, Carlos Guillen will stop getting injured, that Brandon Inge will stop striking out at inopportune times, that Jeremy Bonderman will suddenly put it together again, and so on. The point is, the Tigers don’t have enough talent. Changing managers won’t change that fact.

    – Mike

  8. I don’t like the idea of firing Jim Leyland, but I certainly think he could be doing a better job. I don’t claim to be an expert in any situation in baseball, but it seems to when he makes bad decisions they go really bad. I also think Leyland is having trouble motivating this team in times of trouble. I’d give Leyland and Dombrowski a couple more years to find a good roster and do something with it. I think Leyland is a great manager, but I can certainly see the end of his time in Detroit.

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