Jim Leyland on Neifi Perez

Eric picked this up early on, and I saw the comments posted on MotownSports as well. Jim Leyland was interviewed today on the Stoney and Wojo show on WDFN. Mike Stone asked Jim Leyland, “what does Jim Leyland see in Neifi Perez that we as fans and media members don’t?” The response wasn’t the typical fluff you’d expect. Here is the transcribed version of what Leyland said.

Well that’s a good question because he played terrible. And what had happened was we got reports from our scouts, and I had known him from the past. We were kind of in a panic situation. We had lost Polly and we needed someone who could come in and play second, and play shortstop as well because Carlos needed some time off. And up to this point it looks like we made a mistake.

So Neifi’s going to have to prove us wrong this spring because has not been a good acquisition up to this point.

But that was my fault, and the scouts. And I like said we had to have somebody. And I hope Neifi’ll prove us wrong. I think he’ll be much better than what he showed last year because he showed absolutely nothing when he came over.

Now this reads like he was slamming Neifi something fierce. He was very gruff and matter-of-fact, but it’s a little softer when you actually listen to the interview (available on WDFN podcast page). And in typical Leyland fashion he was more than willing to take responsibility.

That said I thought this was a little bit much to call out a player like that in the media in January. I love that Leyland didn’t pull punches and was honest, but what did they really expect from Perez in the first place? Perez pretty much performed up to reasonable expectations given his history.

I’ve definitely done my share of Neifi-bashing in the past, but I tried to direct my frustrations less at Neifi and more at Jim Leyland’s insistence on playing him. Perez didn’t ask to come to Detroit, and it’s really not his fault that teams keep giving him playing time. I actually feel a little sympathetic towards Perez right now. Weird.

But the good news for Tiger fans is that it looks like the Tigers definitely aren’t committed to keeping Perez on the roster and that Infante will have a pretty good shot at making the team.

22 thoughts on “Jim Leyland on Neifi Perez”

  1. I really don’t expect Neifi to make the club out of spring training. I like Infante and Santiago on the bench with probably Shelton and Thames, if he isn’t traded. I was reading that the Tigers could part with Thames and a pitcher (Grilli, Tata, Durbin, etc…) for the lefty for the bullpen.

  2. Just because Leyland and the Tigers scouts thought he would be a decent acquisition doesn’t mean he should have received all of the playing time that he did.

    Baseball Rule Number 12,346.365 should state –

    Under no circumstances should any ball club in either league be allowed to pay Neifi “Sultan of Swing-n-a-miss” Perez to play baseball. His defensive abilities do not take away the runs he costs your lineup.

    Just because you made a mistake in adding him to your club doesn’t mean you further that mistake by playing him and creating a gaping hole in your lineup.

    Like Mike R., I don’t see him making the team this spring. I hope we aren’t desperate enough (meaning injuries) to have to give him playing time again.

    Any extended playing time by Neifi Perez should only mean that we are out of contention or so far out in front that no one can mathematically catch us.

    Sorry Billfer. I just don’t share your empathy for Perez. He stinks. Leyland finally admitted it publicly. Lets move on without him.

  3. Looking back at Perez’s splits, the only thing I can see to defend the scouts’ recommendation to acquire him is that he had hit around .300 with a slugging pct. over .420 in both June and July. Of course, he had also walked a total of once in those two months.

    Anyway, good news that Leyland seems to be inclined against keeping him around this year.

  4. Agreeing with many of the above sentiments…regardless of the “mistake” in acquiring him, there’s still no excuse for the amount of playing time he received, especially getting time even into the playoffs at the expense of Infante (4 AB’s to 2).

  5. neifi perez is a complete waste of a roster spot and any start he makes is a sure sign of the same kind of desperation that would drive a man to eat his own fingers just to stay alive. his apparent value comes solely from defense, but he’s lost a step since his colorado and kansas city days.

  6. Let’s not celebrate too soon. The Free Press reported that Leyland said later in the day that Perez has a roster spot unless he plays his way off of the team.

    That’s bad news for Omar or Ramon, each of whom is a superior player (in Omar’s case, vastly superior)

  7. We Cub fans were (and remain) ecstatic that you guys took him off our hands. Here in Chicago he had a rasputin-like grip on Dusty Baker, who said with a straight face that “Neifi saved us” in 2005. Yep, how would we have won 78 games without a shortstop that got on base 31 percent of the time?

    In the role of “light-hitting, average fielding, washed-up vetern in the middle infield” this year will be Tomas Perez for us, although Cub management usually feels that we need a bunch of these people so perhaps we’ll make a move for Neifi again this year…

  8. Isn’t he owed $2,500,000 next year? Thats wayyy too much even if he replays his 2000 season with the Rockies. I’m pretty sure quite a few fans can swing the stick better than him.

  9. I feel like you do, Billfer. Neifi has been under a microscope since day 1 and is the most vilified baseball player I’ve ever seen. Some of the most cruel and sick remarks have been said about him. I also was downright shocked at Leyland’s remarks and couldn’t believe it until I heard it myself. It was a humiliating calling-out and I still don’t understand it. Perhaps these are the kinds of situations where a manager can get burned out. Obviosly, Leyland is aware of all the press and negative remarks regarding Neifi’s ability and he finally had to put an end to it by addressing it. I just wish he had done it in private. All cameras will probably be on Neifi during ST. I don’t think he has a chance.

  10. He shouldnt have a chance, his career OPS is a horrid .674. The thing is most fans who watch the Tigers view him as someone who doesnt contribute and therefore is mooching off the Tigers success. As a longtime fan I see him as someone who is taking a more deserving players roster spot and also as someone who if the tigers are in a rally will make not 1 but 2 outs. Production counts and his defense did not save him at all in my opinion. Infante could be an all star in a year or so if given the shot I think.

  11. I don’t think he has much of a chance regardless. A good ST for Neifi I don’t think will win him a spot, at least I hope not. A month of reasonable play doesn’t erase years of mediocre play.

    They owe him 2.5 still so they will see if he can be usable.

    I think it was important for Leyland to say something on the subject. Maybe it was a bit harsh but I don’t know the relationship that Neifi and Leyland have now though they have worked together before. I can only assume there is stuff going on we don’t know.

    I also appreciated him speaking on this as it took away at least one question of ‘What does Leyland see in this guy?’, well not much it seems. Still leaves the question of ‘Why did Neifi get so much playing time?’

  12. I’m with Bilfer. Don’t blame Neifi for not being all that great. It’s not his fault expectations are higher than what he can provide. It’s not like he’s falling short of his ceiling. The Tigers, specifically Leyland, asked him to play above it when it’s just not possible.

    Should he be with the team? Definitely not. But it’s not his fault.

  13. “Perez pretty much performed up to reasonable expectations given his history.”

    Not. His OPS+ was 19. Career average 63. He was horrid compared to expectations.

    He only played in 21 games, so it’s hard to get on them too much. Yes, I was puklling out my hair for every game. They saw Santiago as more of a SS and Neifi as a better hitter. A reasonable expectation at the time, perhaps not in retrospect. I would rather have seen Infante but he made a huge error in the 1st or 2nd game replacing Polanco and went straight to the doghouse. Leyland wants the leather with all those young pitchers. Neifi was not very good on D either although he made only one error. It was very telling that we saw Santiago when Guillen was at 1B. Santiago is the glove man now and Infante is the bat off the bench. I will be astounded if Perez makes the team. The “he’s got a spot” stuff is just for the benefit of some team that has a bunch of IFs get hurt in the spring and might offer to take the contract off their hands.

    Leyland’s remarks are refreshingly candid. Neifi sucked and Leyland said so. Leyland blew it by playing him and he said so. Neifi knows he sucked and I’m sure Leyland’s comments come as no surprise to him. People like Leyland because he doesn’t BS. More proof of the point.

  14. Didn’t Perez play his way off the team last fall? The only reason he has been given the chance to “play his way off the team” is because every single cent of his $2.5 million is guaranteed.

    The Tigers would like him to earn some of that (no way he plays well enough to earn it all – if he does I’ll eat my Tigers cap – I could use a new one anyway) $2.5 million.

  15. Neifi is sure to lead the league, once again, in the “smallest calves” category. So he has that going for him.

  16. Listen, if Neifi is guaranteed 2.5 million for next year, I say that every fan pitch in 25 dollars to make sure he can get waived.

    Then the Tigers can use that money and sign a quality reserve infielder. I mean like Infante, but he aint that much better, and his defense is terrible.

    But I would take Infante a hundred times over Neifi. Oh Neifi. Just thinking about his hacking makes me nasueous.

  17. This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title Jim Leyland on Neifi Perez. Thanks for informative article

Comments are closed.