When managers attack: Jim Leyland rants

After the Tigers laid an egg in a 10-2 defeat to the Indians, Jim Leyland ripped into his team in a clubhouse tirade that was loud enough to be heard by the media waiting outside. In his postgame press conference he had this to say:

Leyland: We Stunk. Next question.
Reporter: What bothered you the most?
Leyland: It was lackluster, the whole ball of wax was lackluster. We had a chance to take the series, take 3 out of 4, and we came out like we brought our luggage to the park like we had to play a game before we went on the road. That’s not good enough.
Reporter: It seems like this was your worst loss…
Leyland: Yeah we stunk period. We stunk and that’s not good enough. This stuff has been going on here before and it’s not going to happen here. We had a chance to take a series. I’m not talking about anyone in particular. I’m talking about the team, myself, the coaches, and everybody else included. It’s my responsiblity to have the team ready to play today, and they weren’t ready to play. They were ready to get on the plane and go to Oakland. If they won it was okay and if they lost it was okay. That’s not good enough

(Here’s the audio)

Whether or not this has any impact on the players will be the real test. Sure it was fun for fans to hear that Skip wasn’t going to tolerate any of this stuff. At the same time, what more leverage does Leyland have than yelling? I trust that he’s been around long enough to know better than to offer ultimatums that he can’t enforce. There are very few cut-able or demote-able players on the roster and the veterans aren’t going anywhere. He can bench players, but at the same time there is a mixed message that each game is important, and yet by benching his better players he’s not giving his team the best chance to win.

What I liked, and hopefully what the players respect, is that this just didn’t come after any loss. It came after a game in which the players preparation and focus were lacking. Results can be beyond ones control, but effort isn’t.

I also like that Leyland put the blame on his shoulders as well, because it was certainly deserved. For someone that preaches preparation, I can’t help but wonder what the thought process was in keeping Chris Shelton in the 6th spot in the lineup.

Lee touched on this a couple days ago, but it is time for the lineup to be adjusted. Chris Shelton has been the best hitter in baseball and is mired in the bottom third of the order. At the very least, Shelton and Guillen should be moved to 5th and 6th respectively. The top of the order has performed well enough to not warrant being slid down. However, the 5th spot going into today had an OBP of .295. Today’s number 5 hitter was Alexis Gomez who has accomplished nothing in his brief major league career and who was hitting 148/172/295 before his call up. I tend to downplay the importance of batting order, but putting the worst hitter in your lineup in front of your best doesn’t make a ton of sense. Also silly was the fact that he was DH’ing despite the fact that outfield defense is one of his strengths.

I’ve yet to hear a plausible explanation for keeping Shelton in the 6th spot. If it has anything to do with not wanting to mess with a good thing, that is foolish. Shelton performed very well in the 3rd spot last year. Is the logic then that you wait until he struggles to move up in the lineup? What more can the man do? I also don’t buy the explanation that he is too young to handle hitting higher in the order. If that’s the case, why is Curtis Granderson entrusted with leadoff duties?

As for how the rant will play out, I guess it will depend on if the team wins. Like Ernie Harwell wrote today, it’s easy to get along when you’re winning.

4 Comments

  1. Kyle J

    April 18, 2006 at 8:00 am

    Agree wholeheartedly that Shelton needs to be moved up in the lineup. The .295 OBP for the 5 spot is a disturbting stat. It’s no wonder that so many of Shelton’s HRs have been solo shots. When a guy’s slugging 1.200, I think you want to put him behind your best on-base guys.

  2. Joey

    April 18, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    No arguments from me on the batting order issue. I’ve been frustrated watching Shelton bat sixth all season. And the Gomez thing is just ridiculous.

    The larger issue though is once again we’re seeing a team that doesn’t get on base and doesn’t drive in runs. It’s frustrating to watch the players in front of Shelton take bad at bats and K or pop out only to have him come up and smack a dinger or an extra bagger. I mean, GET ON BASE FOR THE GUY! And if Shelton hits a double and moves someone over to third, you know nobody behind him is going to finish it off and drive in the runs. Monroe has been absolutely terrible.

    Imagine what our production would be like if Shelton weren’t unconscious right now? If the rest of this team doesn’t start figuring it out before he cools off, we’re in for a nasty stretch of losing.

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