Much was made this past week of the Detroit Tigers and their shortcomings. In classic fashion, many fingers are starting to wave in the general direction of Jim Leyland.
To these fans I say ‘enough already’. Who exactly is it that you’d rather have managing the Tigers again? This organization and city deserve a reputable, experienced, and proven manager. Somebody like, say, Jim Leyland!
Love him or hate him. No, just love him already.
The Tigers have been to the playoffs each of the past two years and made deep runs both times. They are currently an uninspiring 30-25, which is still good for 1st place in the feeble AL Central, but plenty bad enough to get fans all in a tizzy.
Here is a top 5 of sorts as to why fans that hate Leyland, hate him:
Every time he puts in Jose Valverde
Every time Don Kelly is batting in a key spot
Anytime he takes a starter out and the bullpen blows the game
Anytime he leaves a starter in ‘too long’ and he loses it
Basically, anytime the Tigers lose
Should Alex Avila be bunting with men on 1st and 2nd with no outs? His bunt double-play was arguably the wheel that set the Tigers’ Sunday loss in motion. Maybe Leyland should give Brayan Pena more playing time. Maybe he should’ve let somebody pinch-hit for Avila. Maybe Avila shouldn’t be in the major leagues right now. These aren’t easy decisions until you’ve seen the result play out.
Should he have left Max Scherzer in after 119 pitches on Friday night to close out the win? Some fans say yes. These same fans must have forgotten about his arm issues at the end of last year that nearly shut him down for the playoffs.
Should he have put Valverde in on Friday night? He was 5 for 6 in save chances with a 0.75 ERA prior to that. He is the closer that GM Dave Dombrowski signed and told Leyland to use after a fumbling that decision in the offseason. The Tigers had a 2-run lead at the time. What choice did he really have there?
Should Don Kelly ever pinch-hit for Avisail Garcia like he did in the 8th inning on Sunday? Well, if ever, it would be against side-arming righty Darren O’Day. Leyland pulled that trigger and shot a blank.
The long-time manager knows very well the seat that he sits in as the guy calling the shots for this city’s baseball team. Don’t you think he’s learned a thing or two about game management in 3,390 career ballgames? Wouldn’t 73 playoff games worth of decision-making give him a little better resume than the irritable beer-drinker chirping from his couch?
The thing that most often seems lost on Tigers fans is that all 162 games of the season have to be played. You can’t sprint for 130 of them and then call it good.
How many other teams have had all 5 starting pitchers make all of that team’s starts for the season up until now? The answer is one; the Atlanta Braves, also in 1st place. I think the guy knows how to manage a pitching staff and their individual workloads.
Detroit’s offense is hitting .279 as a collective group this year. Who is better across all of baseball? Nobody. The Tigers have scored the 3rd most runs of any team. So stop nitpicking the lineups and by all means stop ragging on Lloyd McClendon. He has done a fine job with guys like Austin Jackson and Jhonny Peralta. It’s hard to fix a confidence problem though (see Alex Avila).
Perhaps if fans did stop pissing and moaning it wouldn’t be as fun, or there would be less to write about. Maybe this is good for baseball and good for keeping the patrons interested in the product on the field. But I’ll tell you what wouldn’t be good and that’s ushering Jim Leyland out of town.
Sometimes you don’t know how good you have it until it’s long gone.
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