What to make of Jim Leyland
I’ll be honest. I was going to break my rule about swearing on the blog and use some expletives in the title and direct them towards the skipper. His management – or lack of management – in the final inning of today’s debacle was grossly negligent (I’ll hit this more in a minute). But then I read some of his quotes prior to the game and I don’t know what the hell is going on.
Before the game he essentially ripped into his team. He threatened changes for underperformers and under-hustlers. Some highlights from the Det News article:
“I’m getting a little tired of some of these performances. We’ve got to do better. They (players feeling the heat) can get mad at me ’til the cows come home, but I’ve got people on my (tail).
“If I were my boss, I’d be ticked off. That can be a trickle-down effect. If I have to tell people ‘I’m taking you out of the rotation,’ that’s what I’ll do.
“I won’t hesitate to do anything. We’re pretty fair here, I’d like to think. But there’s a difference between effort and production.
“Hustle should never be in question. Running a ball out, running hard, is a no-brainer.”
and he finished with
“But we’ve had some performances that have been terrible. I’ve been disgusted the last few nights. The last few weeks, we had situations where we should have dominated a game and we didn’t come close.
“You’ve got to step it up if you want to be in the hunt. If not, go home and come back next spring training. I’ll bring up some kids to play.
“If you don’t want to grind it out, then start your vacation early.
“We should be embarrassed,” Leyland said, ending his soliloquy. “And I’m not sure enough people are.”
Okay, so he’s pissed. He’s feeling the heat. He wishes all the players felt the same heat. And it’s seems like changes are coming. A fact that was probably accelerated by Fernando Rodney’s performance today. Personally I think we see Casey Fien or a member of the 2008 draft class joining the bullpen. And Nate Robertson better pitch a hell of a game on Tuesday because he’s all out of leash as well.
But back to today’s game. I can’t fault the manager for Kyle Farnsworth allowing 2 homers. I have no problem with Farnsworth being in the game at that point. But the 10th inning was a debacle.
Not being privy to the pregame rant, the fact that Rodney was coming in didn’t seem out of the ordinary. (Although I was pleasantly surprised to see Bobby Seay take the mound to start the inning. It would have really sent a message had Seay been allowed to pitch because – you know – he’s the guy in the pen that isn’t sucking) But when it became quickly apparent that Rodney and the strike zone weren’t going to be compatible where was the action in the bullpen?
This is an inning that started out with a walk. Followed by a HBP when the Rays were trying to give up an out. Followed by a sacrifice. Now here is the most telling and at the same time conflicting decision. With the winning run on second, and an open base, Leyland didn’t order the intentional walk. This is a manager that intentionally walks everyone. Yet he didn’t want to have Rodney pitching with the bases loaded. YET NOBODY WAS WARMING UP.
So of course a walk comes anyways. AND YET NOBODY WAS WARMING UP. You’re now in the situation you wanted to avoid, and you don’t have another arm to go to. Rodney should never have been allowed to pitch to Carl Crawford, or Longoria, or Pena. There is no conceivable reason that Rodney was left in the game.
I don’t want to hear “he’s our closer.” This is a guy that got the job last week and has floundered. This isn’t Rivera/Nathan/Papelbon/Jenks/K-Rod. This is a guy who has the job by default. Go get his ass out of the game if he doesn’t have.
Of course we don’t know Leyland’s reasoning because he decided to not explain himself. Instead going with:
“You guys saw it,” he seethed, stabbing angrily at a plate of food. “Write what you want.”
In that case – You blew it Jim. Farnsworth blew the game. Rodney blew the game. But in the latter case you allowed it to happen. You’re in the unenviable position of having no one you can trust and limited healthy options. But doing nothing was clearly a ridiculous move. Maybe someone else would have let in the Rodney’s mess. But it became clear that Rodney wasn’t going to get out of it on his own. On the day you threaten changes and demand more from your players, you let the fans down, as well as everyone in that clubhouse.