Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Tiger's first move toward 2013.....

The biggest, and most obvious, move was to secure Jim Leyland as manager for next season.  The easiest thing to say about this is, 'He's the best available option out there.'  That is true, there is no other manager looking for a team that is equal or better than Leyland right now.   Leyland does have his many detractors among Tiger fans, some of which want him and his staff gone.  It reminds me of another much sought after firing of a Head Coach in Detroit sports, Wayne Fontes of the Detroit Lions.  He was nick-named the Big Buck by writers and fans because everyone wanted his head.  Leyland has drawn only a small a fraction of that Big Buck target from fans as compared to Fontes, but it's still there.

If you look deeper at those same fans, a lot of their arguments are based on relatively minor things.  The minor things are the batting order, on field moves during regular season games, his dreaded “hunches” and most confusing of all, the ‘need to get him going’ player usage.  This is very frustrating for fans, seeing a guy struggle for weeks on end showing no improvement.  Most fans end up asking the same question; ‘What does he see in that guy?’  The answer is obvious and simple; 'This guy can really help our ballclub, if we can only get him going.'  Now there is no doubt in my mind that Leyland is using every tool he can to help these players work out their issues.  He will advise and change and maneuver until all options are exhausted, if and only if all of those things don't work will he give up. The case in point for this past season is Brennan Boesch.

Let's also not forget that Leyland is in a group of the most respected Managers in Baseball right now.  There are many teams/fans out there that would love to have Leyland be their manager.  The most important quality that Leyland possesses; His star players want to play for him.  The culture of a team comes from the manager and the tone he sets.  As far as we ‘outsiders’ can tell, there have been no major problems between Leyland and the star players.  The opposing case in point is the Boston Red Sox players and Bobby Valentine.  That hiring turned out to be a death sentence for th Red Sox and not just for last season.  I will take them time to recover the player losses and become a viable contender again.  That is a lesson that Tigers fans need to learn before they blindly call for a firing based on who's batting 2nd or 5th in the batting order in May or June.

Leyland has the core of the team playing well for him and wanting to play well for him.  They know he doesn't run hot-and-cold and won't get too down on them.  More importantly he will do his best to work with them if they need help, which his track history does show.  Leyland has always treated Detroit and the Tigers as a team/franchise that he wants to manage and represent in a good way.  I think that permeates the teams he's managed here and has carried over to his players.  That is something that cannot be replaced by another manager in one season even if he is equal in experience and knowledge to Leyland.

Right now the Tigers cannot afford to make a change away from the good things Jim Leyland brings to this team.  At least not until the organization is ready to head in a different direction with the personnel on the field.  He will still drive most fans crazy with his hunches, mad-crazy ideas and over-loyalties.  The players they have are to the point where they need stability at the managerial and coaching positions, they do not need to feel they are starting over with someone new.

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