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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.

Posted by on August 3, 2008.

Tags:

Categories: 2008 Season, Managing & Strategy

169 Responses

  1. Yup.

    by Andrew on Aug 3, 2008 at 9:29 pm

  2. True, true. For the life of me, I’ll never understand how he thought Rodney could be a closer. Yes, he did pitch some fine innings upon his return, but he has never been good under pressure, especially in the 9th inning. Since, he (Leland) tends to use his instincts, I fail to see how he could have believed in Rodney. If Leland doesn’t get fired, we’ll probably see several guys get dumped and the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned. Make him a bench coach with his buddy over there in St. Louis.

    by Kathy on Aug 3, 2008 at 9:35 pm

  3. LEYLAND LOST THAT GAME. WHY NOT LET THE KID FINISH. WIN OR LOSE. SICK AND TIRED OF LEYLAND BLAMING EVERYONE ELSE. HE CAN’T COACH. GIVE HIM MORE MARLBORO’S. MAYBE HE’LL CHOKE. EVERYONE IS ALLWAYS AT FAULT BUT HIMSELF. I WOULD WALK ON HIM IF I WERE GALLARGA.

    by eugne mazza on Aug 3, 2008 at 9:57 pm

  4. Wow. I had a dinner party to attend tonight and left when the Tigers were up 2-0 in the seventh. What the hell happened here tonight?

    For some reason I can’t get Gameday to work so I can’t follow what happened, but it appears maybe Farnsworth came in the eighth?

    If so, why? Did Galarraga pitch something like 40 pitches in the seventh? Cuz when I left he was at 70 some pitches and looked like he could have finished this game. WTF? Somebody please tell me Galarraga completely came unhinged in the seventh inning to justify a bullpen move in the eighth — I’m not talking about allowing 1 ER — I want to hear his arm fell off or something…. anything short of that and Mike R. better fire up that website — FOR REAL.

    by T Smith on Aug 3, 2008 at 10:07 pm

  5. well said. and i too have come close to violating the no swearing policy.

    by stephen on Aug 3, 2008 at 10:14 pm

  6. Leyland has cost the team just as many games as any player has this year. He’s a bad strategist who made his living motivating players and now his schtick has run dry here. I’m not surprised.

    I’ll be shocked if he’s managing the team in April ’09

    by Anthony on Aug 3, 2008 at 10:19 pm

  7. Can I also throw in the slightly questionable decision to play the infield in during the Crawford AB? I know the guy can run, but he hit a ball that very well could have been a game ending DP if the infielders were in position.

    Leyland has always been a guy who has stuck with his “closer”. Who could ever forget that 5 run Cleveland fiasco last season when he refused to take TJ out. The problem is that he has never had a real closer in his tenure with the Tigers. Just because you call a guy a closer doesn’t mean he is going to perform like one.

    This team has too much talent and far too big of a payroll to perform like this. This bulk of the blame for this season will rightly fall on the skipper in the end.

    by Tbone on Aug 3, 2008 at 10:21 pm

  8. Why did Galarraga come out of the game? What was his pitch count?

    These are the questions I need answered. Was it because he allowed a run? — or — excuse me — a couple hits? Oooh. Bad Galarraga. You gave up a couple hits in the seventh. Nevermind you got the last guy out and got out of the inning.

    I guess you need to be hurling a no-hitter to stay in the game.

    I just don’t get it.

    by T Smith on Aug 3, 2008 at 10:32 pm

  9. I have to disagree about Leyland. I think he is one of the better managers in the league. He had Seay warmup in the 10th, He knew they would send in a righty, he brought in Rodney and they brought in a 220 hitter vs Rodney-his closer. Rodney walked a 220 hitter! Is that Leylands fault? The guy we traded Pudge for gave up 2 HR’s. Is that Leyland’s fault? He is not consulted on trades, he was totally shocked when he heard Pudge was traded. Tell me this, who said “hey, we have to get Dontrelle Willis?” Do we have scouts who watched him? Who said “lets get Farnsworth” Its obvious he didnt want to leave NY. Girardi + him were crying because he got traded. Girardi-”Kyle and I have a special relationship” So I think NY will welcome him back next year. Whats his incentive to finish this season strong? I think DD has got to go. Tampa Bay is near the bottom in hitting but near the top in pitching. They are ahead of NY + Red Sox in the standings. Whats the plan for our pitching? We traded Miller + Jurrjens, what did we get in return? How is DD any better than Matt Millen?

    by Joe on Aug 3, 2008 at 10:49 pm

  10. T Smith – Battlestar was at 100 pitches and was getting hit fairly hard in the 7th. Going to the pen at that point was the right move.

    by Tbone on Aug 3, 2008 at 10:49 pm

  11. I’ve generally been pretty pro-Leyland, as I think he did a good job managing the team’s emotions the last two seasons as it emerged as a surprise contender.

    But this rant seems like the beginning of the end. Who’s he talking about in terms of underperforming? The three guys that have consistently underperformed are Sheffield, Renteria, and Robertson. What’s changed in the last three days about those guys? (I’m ignoring the bullpen, just because I don’t see what option you have but to run the same guys out there at this point.)

    DD will have to bring in someone new for next year, if only to artificially create a sense of change in the team.

    by Kyle J on Aug 3, 2008 at 11:01 pm

  12. Good rant.

    The problem…what changes?

    Sheffield is locked up unless management eats his 2009 contract.

    For the love of God, Renteria’s option cannot be picked up no matter if it’s Ramon Santiago or Joe Nobody at SS next season.

    Rogers and Jones probably retire, but who else goes?

    Guillen, Robertson, Willis, Bonderman, etc. are all signed to long-ish term deals?

    Whatever, the first victim ought to be Chuck Hernandez, justified or not. Hire Rick Peterson or Leo Mazzone. They’re available. This collective staff is an embarrassment.

    by Mike in CT on Aug 3, 2008 at 11:04 pm

  13. Bill, this is a sincere offer: Would you be interested in taking a joint-effort FireJimLeyland.com? There is one already (www.fireleyland.com) but maybe we could buy it from the blogger and/or come up with a different address. I’m 100% serious about this since you’re obviously experienced at this whole blog site thing and we tend to agree/have similar looks on baseball.

    by Mike R on Aug 3, 2008 at 11:14 pm

  14. Today in Tampa: bottom of 10th 5-4 Tigers

    Rodney in Walks the first guy..Jim take him out
    Rodney almost kills(seriously) the next guy > JIM take him out
    Sac
    Rodney Walks the next guy …..JIM TAKE HIM OUT
    Rodney gives up a single..HEY JIM are you still in Tampa TAKE HIM OUT
    RODNEY WALKS THE NEXT guy….GREAT non coaching

    the inmates are running the assylum

    by judpma on Aug 3, 2008 at 11:16 pm

  15. T Smith – Battlestar was at 100 pitches and was getting hit fairly hard in the 7th. Going to the pen at that point was the right move.

    Agreed, it was the right move to make. I remember remarking to someone in the room during the 6th inning that Galarraga runs otu of gas around the 80th pitch, often in the 7th inning. That’s exactly what started to happen in the 7th and he barely got out of that inning.

    by Jeff on Aug 3, 2008 at 11:16 pm

  16. I firmly believe that if you are going to make a change to the ballclub, you better upgrade. Who would be an upgrade over Leyland? Though he has made some questionable moves this season, he is still one of the better managers in baseball. Same goes with Dombrowski. The Sheffield trade and extension looked great a year ago. Today, it looks awful. Renteria has blown up in his face because of Jurrjens, but Cabrera is starting to deliver on his billing as one of the best offensive forces in baseball. I think that was well worth an over-rated tools guy (Maybin) and a flamethrower whose mechanics are awful and who can’t find the plate (Miller). Willis was a throw-in anyway.

    In general, this duo at the top of our organization is solid if not one of the better duos in the bigs. On the other hand, we could always have Buddy Bell, Larry Parrish, Luis Pujols, or Alan Trammell back along with Randy Smith. Be careful what you wish for.

    by Travis on Aug 3, 2008 at 11:21 pm

  17. Travis, this is Chief Monday.
    Chief Monday, this is Travis.
    I think you two will be very happy together.

    by stephen on Aug 3, 2008 at 11:33 pm

  18. Travis, do ‘throw-ins’ get $29 million thrown at them often?

    by Mike R on Aug 3, 2008 at 11:52 pm

  19. lynn henning hinting rodney abt to get released. then again, he saw no big deadline trades coming so take it for what it’s worth.

    by stephen on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:02 am

  20. Point taken about the throw-in comment. That was the wrong phrase. My point is that he was not the centerpiece of the deal. Maybin and Miller were both needed in the deal to get Cabrera whether Willis was included or not. The extension was the bad call.

    by Travis on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:08 am

  21. Yeah, I know what you meant Travis. I’m just being tamely combative (and I was one of the few Willis believers in the early spring because of him pitching hurt last year…).

    But, lets call a spade a spade. If Jim Leyland/the coaching staff is culpable, isn’t Dave Dombrowski, as well? What’s he done:

    -Traded 3 prospects that haven’t amounted to much for Sheffield who was hurt all year the year before we traded for him.

    -Traded Farnsworth for Zach Miner and Ramon Colon.

    -Traded Pudge for 75 cents on the dollar.

    -Traded for Neifi Perez

    -Signed Jacque Jones

    -Waited forever to release Craig Monroe and Neifi Perez

    -Jurrjens for Renteria (which I was, and still half-am, on the pro-side of)

    -Maybin/Miller/garbage for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle.

    Add those deals (which were the first ones off the top of my head and I know I’m missing something) on top of the Tigers mishandling Bonderman’s injury last year (skipped his spot in the rotation when his elbow pain was finally announced and he didn’t get an MRI when they skipped his start, they just immediately threw him back out there when his spot came back up in the rotation for him to just go out and struggle. They THEN sent him for an MRI) and the apparent mis-diagnosing/lack of a diagnose of Dontrelle’s knee after he hyper-extended it.

    He won a World Series in Florida with a big time team full of stars led by a young Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Al Leiter, Moises Alou, and Robb Nenn.

    Got to the World Series on the back of career years from Craig Monroe and Brandon Inge, perhaps the only serviceable season ever from Fernando Rodney, and a dominant season from Joel Zumaya before freak injuries and even worse command then before have snake-bitten his career as of late.

    Is time running out on Dombrowski at some point?

    by Mike R on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:16 am

  22. Nothing new as far as Leyland not having somebody warming up in an emergency. I saw this happen here back in May in a game where the Twins ultimately blew the Tigers out of the water. Galaraga (interestingly enough) didn’t have it that night and Lopez had come in but he was getting hit pretty good too – 5 straight batters reached base as I recall – no one warming up. Eventually JL woke up enough to hurry Batista into bail out Lopez, but Batista had been forced to really rush to get warm. Leyland then left him in for a couple of innings until he complained of a sore shoulder, had to be removed and after the game was placed on the DL. JL is clueless when it comes to using his pitching staff (there are countless other examples which I don’t believe I need bother with here). To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with him in ’06, but chalked it up to being rusty. But last year he was pretty bad IMO, and this year he has been completely out of sight. The Marlboro Man can talk a good game, but as far as managing one, forget it.

    by Vince in MN on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:20 am

  23. Anyone have a link to the audio clip of the comments?

    by greg on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:52 am

  24. Dave needs to distance himself from Leyland. Dave has made some good trades before JL got on board. But maybe some of the other acquisitions were based on recommendations from JL and his everlasting man crushes he gets on certain players. The skipper has lost control of this team and some of it is because of his decision making.

    by Kathy on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:54 am

  25. Kathy, normally I would scoff at such a notion, but it was Leyland who pushed for Andrew Miller to come up in 07, so him pushing for signings/trades are not out of the question.

    by Mike R on Aug 4, 2008 at 1:03 am

  26. (which were the first ones off the top of my head and I know I’m missing something)

    For starters, you forgot about how he stole Guillen from the Mariners. Even more importantly, though, you forgot about how he rebuilt the scouting staff into one that was actually capable of drafting talent.

    by Jeff Molby on Aug 4, 2008 at 1:35 am

  27. there are two other MAJOR problems with jimmuh this year. let’s not forget that the whole (all players) were not ready to start the year…that is the manager/coaches responsibility/players have to be in shape…and who cut/dismissed all those arms this spring…durbin, grilli, and byrdak who are all looking better in someone else’s uniform than the current tigers bullpen. who cut battlestar IN THE FIRST CUTS at training camp and lets not forget all the new, permanent position moves that lasted what one, two games at the most. sometimes i think leyland is suffering from dementia.

    by charlie on Aug 4, 2008 at 1:40 am

  28. Jeff: I was talking about after the Guillen and Polanco trades. So, from 2005 and after. I agree that he’s been great for this franchise from the day he was hired through 2005. It’s the moves since then and the mishandling of prospects and — even worse — the sketchy way they seem to check out medical conditions on big times parts of this ball club (you know, like your No. 2 starter last season…) leave a lot to be desired in the last 3-ish seasons. Obviously I’d take this over the Tigers of my entire life up until about 2004, but, making a terrible franchise into a middle-of-the-road franchise does not mean that the job’s done or that he can rest on the laurels of the Guillen/Polanco/rebuilding the scouting staff. I mean, hell, the best front office in the sport today — Boston Red Sox — traded away the best offensive SS in the game (in my opinion) in Hanley Ramirez and still are probably the WINNERS in that particular deal. Not to mention countless other deals.

    I feel like this organization really could take another step forward with a more, for the lack of a better term, forward thinking front office.

    by Mike R on Aug 4, 2008 at 2:24 am

  29. d

    by David on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:07 am

  30. DD also signed Pudge, he signed Maggs, he signed Rogers, he signed Polanco and Guillen after he traded for them.

    he also signed Leyland who needs to go, he has needed to go for a long time now.

    After you fade in August and September in 06 to the Twins and then in 07 to the Indians doesn’t that say something?

    I have wanted him gone for awhile now…

    who you gunna call?

    by David on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:08 am

  31. Leyland should NOT be fired. That is a dumb move. IF some pitchers pitched, some hitters hit, and some bullpen people discovered what a strike zone is, Leyland would be up for manager of the year.

    He’s one of the best managers in baseball, and he should not be faulted for the gross-underachievers on this team.

    Sure he should have made a move today to get rid of Rodney, makes perfect sense on hindsight. But what if Rodney saved the game?

    But think about it, your closer (Jones) stinks and blows the most important game of the year already. Bobby Seay is a left-handed speicalist who cannot get out left-handers. Aquilino Lopez is not good enough to be a ML closer. Zumaya is just terrible this year. Walk walk walk. Rodney is it. He was the only guy.

    And when you change closers, you don’t switch them when the screw up. You stick by them. Leyland did that today and it backfired. But I don’t think this means he should be let go.

    IMO, this team needs to get rid of a few players and save some money.

    Tigers Payroll Savings

    Jacque Jones – 5 mill FA
    Kenny Rogers – 8 mill FA
    Todd Jones – 7 mill FA
    Edgar Renteria – 11 mill in 2009 + 3 mill buy out = 8 mill saved
    Vance Wilson – 950 000
    Tim Byrdak – 175 205
    Jason Grilli – 415 000
    Pudge – 13 mill in 2008 – Farnsworth’s 6 mill = 7 mill saved
    ____________________________________________________

    36 540 205 saved

    Of course, a portion would be used to re-sign some guys, like Seay for example, but that money is enough for a good closer/bullpen help, maybe even a starter.

    At the end of the day. it’s all up to Illitch. This season has been such a disaster on so many levels because they are inconsistently bad, meaning that every night, it’s something new as to why they lose. I’d rather lose the same way (ie bad pitching, or bad hitting), but when you lose different ways every night, as if almost you expect to lose, that’s terrible.

    Besides, I’ve come to realize that nothing has gone right from a team stand point this year. We’re having the year the White Sox did in 2007 lol.

    by RudeMood19 on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:22 am

  32. Well, Rudemood, if Pudge suddenly learned the value of a walk and walked 100 times a year he’d be one of the greatest ever. If Miguel Cabrera hit 85 home runs this year, the offense would be drastically improved and he’d have the single season HR record. If Justin Verlander struck 300 hitters, he’d be virtually unhittable. If if if if if if if if.

    Was there any point in the 10th inning when Rodney looked like he would save that game today? Or his last chance at saving a game? Or the chance before that? or the chance before that? Or the one save he’s gotten, which came against the White Sox, in a 42 pitch, 2 inning outing that rendered him unavailable for the the first game of a huge series against the Indians when the offense looked to be coming around and we were going into face a team that we should have been kicking while they were down?

    If if if if if if if. There’s a ton of if’s. If things broke right, this team would have 80 wins already and set a new wins record. If I was a billionaire I could buy the tigers and rectify the things that I think need to be rectified.

    None of those things have happened, or will happen.

    by Mike R on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:20 am

  33. I agree on Rodney; it’s not a good sign when you hit a guy trying to sac bunt, especially when you almost kill the next guy. I agree with billfer on Farnsworth though; he actually seemed to have good stuff, then boom. Then a few unhittable pitches then boom! again. (Oh, NOW I remember Farnsworth…). It happened to fast to really foresee it, and there weren’t the obvious warning signs.

    Whereas you can read the comments on this board when rodney started pitching…a hell of a lot of people saw THAT coming….

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:53 am

  34. The Tigers seem to have zero pitching instruction at the big-league level. Pitchers flounder when their mechanics get whacky and unrepeatable and nobody helps them. They can’t all be prima dona’s who won’t listen to sage advice.

    Today, Rodney’s footstrike was a good 15-inches to the left of homeplate. Forced to follow his lead foot to remain closed-off, he could not locate his fastball. Then he’d open-up his hips to find a fastball strike and was all-arming it. Another inning, and he’d have been on the DL. Chuck Hernandez should have been red-faced screaming at Leyland to pull Rodney for the sake of his pitcher’s health.

    Despite displaying an inability to locate his fastball, F-Rod was not pulled from the game. Instead, out of pure blinding fury, Leyland left him in the game completely naked posing as a junkball pitcher. Leyland acted like Rodney was betraying him, but Rodney was just lost, unable to self-correct and with NO PITCHING GUIDANCE. Leyland was punishing Rodney and f-u-ing DD for giving him nothing for end-of-game situations. Leyland was wrong, Rodney is a talent in need of film study. He will be a great setup man on another team with a real pitching coach.

    We see Verlander up and down, unable to stay away from the middle of the plate, unable to reliably repeat success, “streaky,” unable to develop into the Ace that his talent would seem to warrant.

    Bonderman has the same problem, in fact his nickname should be “Streaky.” The man must take the mound shaking with trepidation, since he’s unable to predict weather the 1st inning will be his last every time out and unable to develop a big-league mix after several seasons in the majors.

    Zumaya struggles despite throwing 99 mph, possessing a good curve, and having had a great changeup in the minors.

    Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?

    by Palmcroft on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:10 am

  35. Good post, Palmcroft. I think I have to agree that Chucky H. might be the one who needs a pink slip. I still credit DD with the revival of this franchise and still know, when I withhold my emotions of the day, that he is one of the best GMs out there. And while I agree that Leyland is a very mediocre strategist at best, I don’t think he needs to be fired at this juncture. Wouldn’t be prudent. Send Chuck packing and hire Mike Barwis out of U of M. He’ll whip them into shape.

    by Ken in Las Vegas on Aug 4, 2008 at 6:41 am

  36. I love it when the fans compare our predicament to other team’s dilemnas in past years. I personally don’t care to put our situation in perspective. I know the Tigers have won 3 World Series in 63 years. The window is slowly closing for a fourth. It’s been 23 years since the last. I don’t think it’s selfish to give Mr. Leyland a 140 million dollar team and ask him to bring us a championship or get the hell out. His missteps have been documented very well on this site. He should have been gone long ago.

    by ron on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:05 am

  37. Never put your faith in anyone who comes to you and says ” I’m doing this to you because someone is on my tail”,” I’m getting pressure from the other end”…

    by ron on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:12 am

  38. I don’t agree with your assessments of Leyland and Dombrowski – to this point. Leyland was a genius two years ago.
    - I think that one player who avoids too much critisism is Carlos Guillen. He has been batting third for quite an extended stretch now. Fifty RBI’s? He is not a third baseman. His failing to cover third on that bunt play in the tenth inning may have cost them the game. What happened to needing production and power from your corner infielders?
    - I don’t think that the future is as bleak as everybody makes it out to be. We have some excellent YOUNG players (Granderson, Joyce, Cabrerra, Verlander) that we can build around. I think what needs to be learned from this season is that players who still have a lot of trade value, but are getting older, such as Guillen, Ordonez, and Polonco, have to be shopped around this winter. You don’t have to trade them. However, if you can get some young pitching for them, it may be the time to rebuild. If we can get one or two good starting pitching prospects for them, your rotation at this time next year could be Verlander, Gallaraga, Bonderman?, Porcello, and the pitcher you aquire in a trade.
    The Tigers have to make some roster moves today after that outburst. If they don’t, the players will tune him out completely.

    by Figdawg on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:26 am

  39. The time to trade for a quality starter was Thursday, when there was the most leverage. The Tigers’ older quality players could have helped any of the playoff-bound teams. I was hoping for a guy on the threshold of a great career, David Price, given the completion of the staff with Porcello and a year to break them both in. Then a Braves-like run could have been made in years 2010-11-12-13-14. This kind of move was not made because DD seriously overevaluated the talent of his staff.

    Leyland is not a good manager. He’s a likeable guy who’s stock-in-trade is blunt humility. People mistake his gruffness for leadership when it is actually just the sound of his brain scraping against the narrow confines of his unreflective personality. I wish him continued hardly-noticeable success in his next post, hopefully with a Central Division rival.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:42 am

  40. Palmcroft- I was hoping for the same deal, too. The Tigers have been dead in the water since Bonderman and Willis went down. If the Tigers had been smart at the deadline, they could have sent Ordonez to Tampa for Price or Wade Davis and another prospect. You could have definitely sold the Rays on Ordonez “putting them over the top” while acquiring a top of the rotation starter that the Tigers so desperately need.

    The guys to build around are Granderson and Cabrerra. The Tigers are going to have to sacrifice a little offense with Ordonez to get a legit starter. You can’t go into 09 with this same mess.

    by Scott on Aug 4, 2008 at 10:00 am

  41. he brought in Rodney and they brought in a 220 hitter vs Rodney-his closer. Rodney walked a 220 hitter! Is that Leylands fault?

    It was obvious to me during the one save Rodney recorded against the Sox (which in my view, was founded on luck more than anything), that he didn’t have the stuff to be our closer. There was a serious control issue — as Rod would say — which has been well documented here. So to answer your question – yes. It is Leyland’s fault. He trotted out a guy who — for whatever reason — can’t control his fastball in the first place — and without a fastball, his changeup is useless. And he (Leyland) just watched the train wreak happen.

    by T Smith on Aug 4, 2008 at 10:09 am

  42. Lot of interesting comments on this thread. I am on the side that the manager gets too much credit when things go well and too much blame when they don’t. Leyland’s in-game strategic calls leave much to be desired, so I think that’s a fair criticism of his managing style. At the end of the day, he has to run somebody out there, and a guy with talent who doesn’t produce isn’t necessarily Jimmuh’s fault. His loyalty to his players make them want to come here, and sticking with Cabrera, Polanco and Verlander despite early-season struggles has proven the right move. Sheffield, Robertson and Rodney, not at all. He is very good at managing the personalities of his players, and his experience commands respect from a veteran team. I think these are plusses.

    As for DD, well, I’m not going to defend every trade, but it’s no secret that he’s an aggressive guy who isn’t afraid to take chances. Isn’t that what we want? A guy who will do what it takes to try and win? No GM has a perfect record on trades, but that doesn’t make him a bad GM. The success he’s had building the scouting and development system from top to bottom is noteworthy. However, I think some of DD’s moves got him away from what made the team successful: good starting pitching and offensive balance. Personally, I’d like to see a few players replaced just to add some different elements to the team. Give opponents more to worry about than just a softball team lineup of sluggers.

    So, I wouldn’t replace either guy, personally. At the end of the day there is still a nice core to build around, and the changes that need to be made may already be starting to happen. Whether or not that can translate into success this year remains to be seen, but I would bet we see some kind of overhaul (especially the bullpen, obviuosly) in the offseason regardless.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 10:11 am

  43. Palmcroft: “Leyland was punishing Rodney and f-u-ing DD for giving him nothing for end-of-game situations. Leyland was wrong, Rodney is a talent in need of film study. He will be a great setup man on another team with a real pitching coach.”

    I agree with this, except for Leyland trying to spite Dombrowski — such a thing seems unreasonable. Leyland has always been buddy-buddy with DD.

    What other reason could Leyland have for leaving Rodney in the game other than to embarrass him? Was he saving his bullpen for the off day today? Did he honestly think, after Rodney essentially hit two batters and nearly a third, he would magically find the strike zone? I watched that 10th inning in pure amazement of Leyland’s refusal to remove him. We had the lead. It wasn’t an extra inning marathon where the rest of the bullpen was depleted. Lopez, Rapada, or Fossum don’t seem like attractive options, but a change needed to be made.

    Rodney was quoted in the Freep today: “I’m asking people in the bullpen and [the] pitching coach about how I can do better.”

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned Texas yet. They fired both their pitching and bullpen coaches this week. And quite honestly, our relief pitching is starting to rival that of the Rangers. I remember Rod saying during our 19 run game against them, “Are you kidding me? This is the major leagues!”

    by Brian P on Aug 4, 2008 at 10:59 am

  44. A few times, Rodney was just one pitch away from getting out of it. Rodney was named the closer. He got an honest chance at closing games. Now it’s time for somebody else to close games. My vote goes to Eddie Bonine.

    by Chief Monday on Aug 4, 2008 at 11:03 am

  45. I’m not certain Leyland was trying to embarrass Rodney. I think he was trying to show faith in his “closer”, as he did in the past with Jones.

    However misguided that may be, I think that’s jimmuh’s rationale.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 11:12 am

  46. Rebuild a Ferrari? Give him a Bugatti and he”ll drive that one into the river too. A souped up Focus with the right driver will give the big boys a run for it. And if you think he has nothing to do with the outcome of a game once it’s started, your nuts. Where do you think all those signs are coming from? He’s supposed to be one step ahead of everyone else. Tweaking, motivating, repositioning. It’s a chess game not checkers.

    by ron on Aug 4, 2008 at 11:47 am

  47. [...] at the Detroit Tigers Weblog, Billfer takes a look at what Jim Leyland is saying and what he is doing.  This post is excellent, [...]

    by The Spot Starters » Blog Archive » Checking Out the Blogosphere on Aug 4, 2008 at 11:47 am

  48. Rodney had 0-2 and 1-2 counts before he starting missing. I’m sure the dugout wasn’t signaling those bad pitches-Rodney was making them on his own. Being closer means you have to suck it up and get the job done and the only way to find out for sure if he has it is to get him in there ….. and perhaps fail a few times.

    by jim-mt on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:08 pm

  49. Whoever called him a genius in 06′ was nuts too. The genius sat in the other dugout.

    by ron on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:12 pm

  50. He could have cut off Rodney’s Red bull consumption in the 7 th inning. One step ahead, my man, one step ahead.

    by ron on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:16 pm

  51. After a brutal loss like yesterdays, it’s only natural that Leyland would have to take a lot of heat from fans and the media.

    But why is nothing being said (in the media) about Chuck Hernandez? Why aren’t reporters asking about his role with the team and whether or not his job is on the line?

    I’m just an average baseball fan with limited knowledge about what the pitching coach actually does. So I don’t know if he’s actually hurting our chances or not.

    But I am fairly certain that he’s NOT helping.

    Why not try another pitching coach? Seriously, could another pitching coach make things worse? I doubt it.

    by Matt on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:41 pm

  52. I agree with the comment that DD has to go. This season has been a huge disappointment but to some extent the present predicament was predictable. Last year the Tigers batted .287 as a team with a team ERA of 4.57. The off season trades did little to address the pitching problem they already had. At the same time, they rushed to sign Willis to a three year deal after her had a horrible year in Florida and for some reason DD felt compelled to lock-up RObertson for three years. Bonderman and Robertson have career losing records yet the team retains and rewards them. Going back even further, they didnt need Sheffield. BUt they signed him after an injury plagued year. They need a new GM.

    by Eugene on Aug 4, 2008 at 2:13 pm

  53. A bad pitching coach would be like having your wife at work with you reminding you about every little thing. The best pitching coaches are the ones that stay out of your way and know when to shut up.

    by Chief Monday on Aug 4, 2008 at 2:18 pm

  54. DD is a good GM. He’s made plenty of excellent acquisitions.

    by Chief Monday on Aug 4, 2008 at 2:36 pm

  55. The best pitching coach knows what his pitchers’ good mechanics look like and quickly catches destructive variances. He uses film extensively. He has methods for correcting flaws and he teaches pitchers to recognize problems early (all my fastballs are floating inside on lefthanded hitters, my curve is turning slurvy, my changeup is getting rocked, etc.) and correct them within the game or between starts.

    The best pitching coach has pitchers who improve when healthy and younger than 27, who stabilize according to their talent between 27 and 32, and whose decline is slowed 33+ so one does not see precipitous dropoffs. IMHO

    by Palmcroft on Aug 4, 2008 at 2:36 pm

  56. Good GM’s build consistent winners.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 4, 2008 at 2:42 pm

  57. I can’t believe some people are turning on DD so quickly.

    It’s not easy to build a ‘consistent winner’. Especially after your franchise was so recently a ‘consistent loser’. To completely phase from loser to winner takes a very long time, and we were very, very deep in the loser category.

    by Ryan P on Aug 4, 2008 at 2:47 pm

  58. I’m listening to the moronic plebs on the radio asking for DD to leave. Did 2006 spoil some fans this much? I wouldn’t miss Leyland, but there would be chaos if Dave disappeared.

    by Brian P on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:05 pm

  59. How long has DD had? The team is in disarray.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:06 pm

  60. “The best pitching coach has pitchers who improve when healthy and younger than 27, who stabilize according to their talent between 27 and 32, and whose decline is slowed 33+ so one does not see precipitous dropoffs.”

    Palmcroft, I think these factors are less a function of pitching coach than they are determined by the pitcher himself. A good pitching coach should properly develop younger guys, I agree. But there’s little a coach can do regarding any dropoff in ability following a player’s peak. Leo Mazzone is widely regarded as a guru, but he didn’t make any huge impact during his time in Baltimore. This is not to say Leo is not a good pitching coach, but he can only do so much with the talent that he’s given.

    I honestly don’t know if CH is a good pitching coach or not. I know nobody around here complained in 2006 when they had a terrific pitching staff. Health has been an issue for pretty much everyone since then, except Verlander. Just top of mind:

    Rogers made 11 starts last year due to blood clot.
    Bonderman was 10-1 last year before pitching through a sore elbow without telling anyone and ending up on the DL. He had perhaps started to recover from a slow start this year before a blood clot put him on the DL.
    Robertson had a “tired arm” in the middle of last year.
    Zumaya and Rodney had various ailments since they were both oustanding in 2006.
    Verlander looked terrific most of last year, and had rebounded from a slow start this year. His last 2 starts were ugly, however.

    Are all those injuries the fault of the pitching coach? I don’t think so. How does Verlander have a great first two years and then suddenly stink up the joint? Does CH get any credit for ’06 or ’07? I’m not saying he’s perfect; I’m not even saying he’s good. But like Leyland, I think he gets too much credit when things are good and too much blame when they’re not. At minimum, let’s examine his entire body of work before throwing him under the bus.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:08 pm

  61. The second most highly paid baseball team on the planet has no pitching staff, no bullpen, no cogent manager, and was counting on guys who are over-the-hill to play key roles, not come off the bench: Sheff/Rent/Jones were essential.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:10 pm

  62. From Wikipedia regarding Leo Mazzone:

    “In his book The Baseball Economist, J.C. Bradbury titles a chapter, ‘How Good is Leo Mazzone?’ Using statistical analysis, he analyzes whether Mazzone had a significant impact upon the pitchers that he coached. The sample is all pitchers who have pitched at least one year under Mazzone and one year under a different pitching coach. Bradbury found that Mazzone lowered the ERA of pitchers by an average of .64 points, and that after leaving Mazzone, pitchers’ ERA increased by an average of .78 points. Bradbury believes that such an impact is deserving of Hall of Fame consideration.”

    by Palmcroft on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:19 pm

  63. ron: “Never put your faith in anyone who comes to you and says ” I’m doing this to you because someone is on my tail”,” I’m getting pressure from the other end”…”

    I had to diagram this out, but it looks like Leyland is getting pressure from his mouth.

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:21 pm

  64. Hired before the 2002 season, this is DD’s 7th season, the Tigers will have made the playoffs once during his tenure so far. Their prospects for doing so again in the near future appear to be nonexistent.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:23 pm

  65. Tbone: “Can I also throw in the slightly questionable decision to play the infield in during the Crawford AB? I know the guy can run, but he hit a ball that very well could have been a game ending DP if the infielders were in position”

    I glad you mentioned that because I didn’t even notice where they were playing. I was still trying to decipher what could have been meant by the gameday line: “Defensive substitution, E. Renteria at SS”

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:26 pm

  66. You’re cherry-picking, Palmcroft. I assume you’re citing reasons DD should lose his job. I accept your challenge. We also have/had:

    -a stud CF locked up through his prime for the next 4 years
    -an RBI machine at 1b locked up through his prime for the next 7 years
    -a steal of a 2b that we pay $4 million per year we got in exchange for a criminal. He had an OPS+ of 122 last year and 104 this year and provides very solid defense.
    -4 years of about 120 OPS+ at shortstop in exchange for a reserve infielder
    -a terrific hitter in RF (soon to be DH)
    -two young pitchers to build around, and a stud prospect on the way

    I would also point out Sheff was extremely productive until he got hurt. Yeah, that’s a risk with older players, but it was a freak thing.

    DD is a good GM, but by no means perfect. The Jacques Jones move was a disaster. The Renteria trade was done out of necessity, and there weren’t exactly a ton of options to run out there at SS. Do you think Kenny Williams is a good GM? I do, but he traded an established 200+ innings above-average starting pitcher for one season of Orlando Cabrera. That’s the benchmark. If you have another suggestion for who DD should have traded for, I’d love to hear it.

    Guys like Dave Littlefield and Bill Bavasi deserve to lose their job because of a poor organizational philosophy. Dombrowski does not. He’s an aggressive GM, and sometimes that’s going to backfire, and sometimes you’re going to win big.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:30 pm

  67. Mark: Those are all obviously the Best of Dave Dombrowski. You also might have mentioned the positive contribution that Armando Galarraga has made, and he was acquired for virtually nothing. On the other hand, he really did strip the team of pitching depth in the offseason. Granted that netted the team Miguel Cabrera, but still. This is a team that didn’t necessarily *need* another slugger. It’s like DD decided that the Detroit Tigers should be a fantasy team all of a sudden. Actually, it was all the owner’s idea.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:38 pm

  68. Palmcroft: “Bradbury found that Mazzone lowered the ERA of pitchers by an average of .64 points, and that after leaving Mazzone, pitchers’ ERA increased by an average of .78 points”

    That’s a pretty cool stat if legit.

    (It reminds me, for those who are fans of the ballgame-of-the-foot, of the Steve Hutchinson effect. When Seattle drafted him immediately their rushing yds per game went up 35+ and stayed there or higher. When he went to Minn Seattle’s YPG dropped back down where it was pre-Hutchinson. And Minn’s went up about 60/game…some of the credit goes to Peterson, but Peterson’s backup gained 20+ YPG more than the previous year’s starter. Which means Peterson’s probably a tad overrated, and the Lions were smart to give Shaun Alexander another look. Oh wait, they didn’t? Oh, scratch that.)

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:39 pm

  69. From Wikipedia regarding Leo Mazzone:

    “In his book The Baseball Economist, J.C. Bradbury titles a chapter, ‘How Good is Leo Mazzone?’ Using statistical analysis, he analyzes whether Mazzone had a significant impact upon the pitchers that he coached. The sample is all pitchers who have pitched at least one year under Mazzone and one year under a different pitching coach. Bradbury found that Mazzone lowered the ERA of pitchers by an average of .64 points, and that after leaving Mazzone, pitchers’ ERA increased by an average of .78 points. Bradbury believes that such an impact is deserving of Hall of Fame consideration.”

    Again, Palmcroft, I never said Mazzone was not a good pitching coach. But the Orioles team ERA/ERA+ in his 3 seasons there were:

    2004 (the year before he got there): 4.70/98
    2005: 4.56/95
    2006: 5.35/85
    2007: 5.17/89 (with a very good Erik Bedard).

    This is not to prove he’s not good, but to show that even the best are limited by the talent they have to work with. When Rogers, Bonderman, Zumaya, Rodneym etc. are out a long time with injuries, what is CH supposed to do? Will somebody into pitching like Verlander?

    Feel free to address the larger point of examining CH’s points of success and his entire body of work.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:41 pm

  70. The best pitching coach doesn’t exist.

    by Chief Monday on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:47 pm

  71. The Chief: “The best pitching coach doesn’t exist.”

    That’s just plain silly. How does he coach then?

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:51 pm

  72. Mark

    DD is no dummy. He has done some great things. But I stand by my contention that a good GM is one who builds a team that wins consistently. In seven years, DD has not done that. I further contend that the Tigers will not make the playoffs in ’09 or ’10 as currently constituted, they simply do not have the pitching.

    That’s interesting about Mazzone in Baltimore. But if you compare the year before he arrived, you need to show that those were the same pitchers. In addition, their ages are relevant. Regardless, establish your own markers for what makes a good pitching coach. Has CH reached those markers? Is CH making this team better? Is Leyland?

    It’s time to start asking these questions.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:54 pm

  73. Leo Mazzone had Greg Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine. Take those 3 guys out the equation and Mazzone is just another pitching coach.

    Maddux was phenomenal when he was with the Cubs, several years before Mazzone ever so called “coached” him into greatness.

    by Chief Monday on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:54 pm

  74. Those are all obviously the Best of Dave Dombrowski. You also might have mentioned the positive contribution that Armando Galarraga has made, and he was acquired for virtually nothing. On the other hand, he really did strip the team of pitching depth in the offseason.

    Yeah, absolutely Chris. My only point is that you can’t just look at DD’s moves that didn’t work when evaluating his tenure. I didn’t cite the AG trade simply because I doubt he’ll be able to keep these kinds of performances up. In an earlier post I also address the scouting and development areas that have improved dramatically under DD.

    Yeah, the Cabrera move was driven (initially, anyway) by Ilitch. And yeah, we’re basically a softball team now, but you could argue that the team DID need another slugger, given they had no idea how healthy Sheff was (is). But he’s still the most dynamic young hitter in the league, a proven commodity, obtained for exactly ONE player off the 25-man roster. Prospects are no sure thing, and there’s no way Maybin will be as good as Cabrera. He just won’t, and there isn’t a scout who thinks so from what I’ve seen. The Willis part of that trade is fair game for criticsm, and that was definitely a gamble. Time will tell if that works out.

    At the end of the day, DD is trying to capitalize on winning now, with a veteran core, and preparing for the future. Not a single player given up in that trade would have been a key contributor this year with the possible exception of Andrew Miller. Yeah, it stripped the org of pitching depth, but which one of those guys is slated to be a #1 or #2 in the majors? Miller, I guess, but that isn’t happening this year. He really struggled this year with a 76 ERA+ in 100 ip. Were Badenhop or Trahern ready for the majors this year and could they have contributed? De la Cruz may have been, but he’s struggled.

    So the trade thinned things out a bit, but not dramatically so, as none of those guys would have given us much this year. Down the road when those guys would have mattered, I am betting that depth has been replaced. The injuries have hurt the pitching depth more than that trade did.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:57 pm

  75. Ryan P,

    How can you not see how DD has messed up this team? There are three huge offseason moves that has cost this team contention this year, and likely years to come:

    1) Signing of Dontrele to a contract extension before seeing if his last season decline wasn’t a part of a big trend.

    2) The signing of Mr Zero-Upside, Nate Robertson, to an undeserved contract extension (settling for mediocrity).

    3) The trading of a top MLB-ready pitching prospect, Jair Jurrjens, for an aging position player (who stinks).

    4) Neglecting the bullpen– the team’s blaring weakness last season.

    Overall, all of the missteps were with pitching, which was not considered top priority last winter. This offseason, I hope we will see an almost uniform reversal of this approach. The Tigers need to improve pitching, pitching and pitching.

    by Chris on Aug 4, 2008 at 3:58 pm

  76. Chris:
    “How can you not see how DD has messed up this team? There are three huge offseason moves that has cost this team contention this year, and likely years to come”

    How about this way of looking at it: DD’s moves this season may (I’m not entirely convinced they would have been much better without them) have messed up what was already a competitive, well balanced, cohesive team–that had been assembled by himself. So there you go.

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:02 pm

  77. Well Palmcroft, winners don’t happen overnight. The 2002 that DD took over had little in it’s system and had such dynamic “regulars” such as Bobby Higginson, Robert Fick, and Shane Halter in it’s lineup every day. Wendell Magee got 350 ABs that year. The rotation? Mark Redman, Jeff Weaver (who was actually pretty good) Mike Maroth, Steve Sparks. Jose Lima and his 7.77 ERA got 12 starts that year. Suffice it to say, there wasn’t much there.

    Now, DD hasn’t built a dynasty, but the team has improved a lot in a short amount of time. He has built the foundation to produce consistently competitive teams. Some of the elements that were needed for a “quick fix” are still around. Some of the elements that were added to get them over the top haven’t panned out. But the franchise is headed in the right direction. Consistent winner? They’ve had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1987-1988. Given where he’s built them from, that’s a pretty good first step.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:19 pm

  78. Mark: My thinking is that having a group of Miller-Jurrjens-Trahern-Badenhop (+Miner/Galarraga) as the 6th starter options would have been better than the Eddie Bonine Experience. Not to mention that Nate Robertson might not be starting right now. At least there’d be more options available. But whatever. Cabrera’s going to be a Hall of Fame type player and he’s only 25. But in the near term, he’s just another plodding slugger in the Maggs-Sheffield-Guillen-Thames mold. It’s just not a versatile offense. Look at the teams that are the most successful in ’08 – the Tigers are kind of the opposite of those clubs. They don’t have the pitching of the Angels, the grind out every AB mentality of the Red Sox, the youth of Tampa. And who knows how the Twins win. It has something to do with Astroturf, I think. Smoke and mirrors. The Tigers have the smoke (Leyland’s cigarettes), they just need to go to the Room Store and get some mirrors, I guess.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:20 pm

  79. Let’s not forget about trading away Pudge for Farnsnotworthit. Catchers who can hit .300 and be at the top of the league in defense are hard to come by, and I think we could have used him for one more year. On the other hand, a bullpen arm that can give up two jacks in one inning are not hard to come by. We have plenty of those stockpiled. I just really don’t like that trade. Pudge was kind of the peanut butter of our PB&J. Chunky style. Brandon Inge is the no-fat creamy Peter Pan style.

    Having said all this (or absolutely nothing) I still don’t want to fire DD. At least he keeps our lives interesting with blockbuster moves. We couldn’t say that our lives were very interesting pre-DD. In fact you could say that we had nothing to live for. Sean in Illinois was hitting the bottle, Coleman was experimenting with meth, I had a gambling problem. We don’t want to go back there.

    by Ken in Las Vegas on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:25 pm

  80. “The best pitching coach doesn’t exist.”

    It’s Zen, Coleman. Get with it. Here is a kōan to help free your mind from duality:

    A bullpen monk asked Hernàndezhōu, “Does a Rodney have Verlander-nature or not?” Hernàndezhōu said, “Wú”.

    Seriously, I think the intended meaning is that there is no one pitching coach who would be the best for any team under any circumstances. That’s a sensible view.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:26 pm

  81. I’m with Palmcroft et. al. on Chuck Hernandez. Outside of Galarraga, I don’t think there’s one pitcher on this staff that is pitching anywhere near their potential. It’s not a staff composed of bums (though there are a few). In fact, it’s a staff chock full of guys with good “stuff” and the chronic inability to use it effectively. It’s hard for a fan to have any direct insight into how a coach affects a player, but this stands out. If the whole staff is underperforming, how can you not look at the coach?

    by Ryan In Brooklyn on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:32 pm

  82. 1. Willis hasn’t hurt the Tigers. He hasn’t played enough to hurt us. He’s just over paid. The Tigers have money. Lots of money. Their revenue last year was over $200 million. It will be higher this season. They’ll either spend $ or Illich keeps it in his pocket. Which would you rather have? It’s just a bum deal that Willis didn’t pan out. At worst everyone though he be an innings eater with about a 4.50 to 5.00 ERA.

    2. Robertson got under the market value for what he done before this season. See Nate’s 2004 through 2007 stats. Then See Carlos Silva’s.

    3. The trade was Renteria for 2 prospects. Jurrjens was an undrafted free agent who the Tigers signed in 2003. We really had nothing invested in him. Thank the Tigers scouting and minor league development for turning an undrafted player into a top prospect that we could trade for an All-Star caliber SS. Renteria hit .330 last year, nobody expected a sudden drop off.

    4. They didn’t completely neglect the pen. Half of our expected pen weren’t on the team come April. Such as Brydak, Rodney, and Zumaya. The Tigers were jammed up with relievers that were out of options, so some had to go.

    by Chief Monday on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:34 pm

  83. Chris,

    You make some interesting points about DD’s moves, I offer the following counterpoints:

    1) This is a fairly low-risk deal that so far has been a disaster. The scouts all say the stuff is still there. Willis wasn’t hurt (as far as anybody knew) when the deal was made and now the injuries have affected something. It was a risky move, but there’s some element of bad luck involved in Willis getting hurt.

    2) Nate is a league average pitcher for below-average cost. Probably not the greatest signing ever, but league average guys have value. A lot of value. He’s been atrocious this year, but he was supposed to be a #4/#5 alongside Willis. You can’t stock your rotation with 5 Jake Peavy’s every year.

    3) We’re revisiting the Renteria trade again. Sigh. Who else would have played short? Who else was available? What was the going rate for veteran shortstops? DD paid market value, perhaps BELOW when you consider Jurrjen’s projected role as a #3 and injury history.

    4) I actually agree with you on this one. Depending on Rodney and Zumaya to return to form healthy and effective was optimistic. The payroll runneth out at some point, and it’s the bullpen that suffered. My guess is they hoped to patch things up with a mix of guys and then make a move for help at the deadline. Didn’t work out.

    DD hasn’t messed up this team. They have underacheived, they’ve been decimated with injuries (not completely unforeseen), and they got off to a terrible start. Did Cleveland’s GM mess up that team? He made exactly ZERO impact moves last offseason, except for signing a pretty solid reliever. They’re in last place. Injuries, bad luck, ineffectiveness – it happens.

    I ask you this: If DD had done NOTHING last winter, would they have a better or worse team? Would you be happy or upset if they had the same record as they do now?

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:41 pm

  84. Dombrowski is a fine GM. I’m not smart enough about pitching or the impact coaching has on it to comment on Hernandez. I am disillusioned with Leyland – I duped myself into taking him to be a straight talker. He’s neither a straight talker nor a clear thinker, in my view. Maybe you don’t have to be either to be a good manager, but I’d be willing to try such a guy for a season.

    Given the fact (at least I see it as fact) that hitting has been the most consistently inconsistent aspect of play all season, where is the heat for McClendon? Tangentially, were Chris Shelton and Craig Monroe really so immune to reform? Are Brandon Inge and Marcus Thames? To be fair, perhaps McClendon deserves a lot of credit for Granderson’s development. I can’t say that I have a reliable opinion on the state of the Tigers hitting coaching, so maybe someone will offer some cogent thoughts on the matter so that I might “borrow” one.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:44 pm

  85. Sean C: “It’s Zen, Coleman” Who has time for Zen when you got these loose cannons in Las Vegas blathering bits of nonsense interspersed with outing half of us for our chemical recreation preferences. Now I’ll have to go and create another persona before The Man is onto me…

    I mean whatever happened to “whatever goes around stays around in the town” or whatever the damn slogan is. Jeepers!

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 4:56 pm

  86. Chris in Big D:

    Somebody had to go in order to get a shortstop, and it was probably going to be a pitching prospect, as that was a fairly deep stable for us. The Renteria deal was done days after the World Series. The Cabrera trade was in December, and that’s the 6-prospect haul the Marlins got. I guess it’s nice to have pitching depth, but when your choice is an insurance policy of Jurrjens-Badenhop-Miller-Trahern or cashing that in to get a starting shortstop and 25-year-old future hall of famer, you have to pull the trigger.

    I agree with you 100% when you say it’s not a versatile offense, though. I would much rather see some guys who can run a little bit, make more consistent contact (even if it means fewer home runs), and cover ground defensively to add balance to the team. Some of the young guys (Joyce, Clete, Raburn) have that element. Maybe someone like Clevelen gets at least platoon time in LF next year. Anything to change the look of the team a bit and give opponents something else to worry about. I’m not saying Nick Punto shouldbe our 3b next year, but adding some athleticism wouldn’t be a bad thing.

    Ken Vegas (used to be Cincy):

    It was reported in NY Daily News that Pudge asked to be traded. Dombrowski has denied this, but it may help explain why Cashman was approached by DD. At a minimum, it was quite apparent that Pudge was not happy about his reduced role. And though it’s pure rumor and conjecture, I have heard that Pudge was not well-liked in the clubhouse due to selfishness. I have no idea if that’s true, but I’ve heard it.

    It can be argued by reasonable people that NY was not the best place to ship him, but that may have been the only team willing to offer a ML-ready reliever in exchange. A swap to Florida for prospects tells your team you’ve given up on this season.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:01 pm

  87. Sean:

    It’s only a couple of data points, but Monroe and Shelton haven’t exactly caught fire in their new destinations with other hitting coaches…

    The guys who have been bad this year on offense are established players – former All-Stars. The young guys, the ones you’d expect a hitting coach to have the most effect on, have hit well, for the most part.

    by Joel in Seattle on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:03 pm

  88. Not to mention the same Vegasian Menace already spoilt my mental placidity by sploshing through its surface a fat duffel bag stuffed with this thought:

    “Brandon Inge is the no-fat creamy Peter Pan style”

    So here I am having achieved the serene mind necessary to make my comments of that special sort that are sharp, yet harmless–and suddenly this image appears of a goat-chinned catcher or UT (do they pronounce that “Yoot?”) or whatever the hell he is, prancing about in green tights and ruffled collar checking his swings with a little flourish both graceful and childlike, and I swear I will be well into my 3rd ham sandwich before I have recovered, so I must excuse myself now.

    And for the love of all that is holy I beg you never use “Brandon Inge” and “creamy” in the same sentence again.

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:06 pm

  89. “Who has time for Zen when you got these loose cannons in Las Vegas blathering bits of nonsense interspersed with outing half of us for our chemical recreation preferences.”

    I was more spluttering bits of nonsense than blathering bits, just to be fair to me. And another thing, the common phrase is “what happens in Vegas should not ever be spoken of again outside our circle. I mean it, Frank. Don’t even tell Bill. I know he’s our friend but you know how he gets when he’s drinking. If this ever got back to my wife..Seriously, Frank, I’ll kill you.”

    by Ken in Las Vegas on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:08 pm

  90. Coleman. Ok, that mental image you just gave me was truly hilarious. Not of the Yoot prancing in green tights, but of you finishing off your third ham sandwich in green tights.

    Thanks for the information, Mark in Chicago. I did not know that, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Pudge does seem to be quite the pouty face.

    by Ken in Las Vegas on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:14 pm

  91. Mark: I heard kind of different about Pudge. He was really looked up to by many of the Hispanic players. Maybe management was afraid of that, I dont know. I do know he played hard every play + will be in the HOF. Tiger baseball was horrible before him, he was the 1st sign things were turning around. Nothing lasts forever though.

    by Joe on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:15 pm

  92. As a BYU grad and fan, I know a Ute when I see one. And Brandon Inge is no Ute.

    Chris Shelton was, though. That’s why I always saw through the mirage…

    by Joel in Seattle on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:22 pm

  93. “He was really looked up to by many of the Hispanic players. Maybe management was afraid of that,”

    Joe:

    There’s someone in the clubhouse who’s an expert in such theory… Let’s ask the Sheff.

    by Joel in Seattle on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:23 pm

  94. Since June the offense has been much more consistent, except for Sheff and Renteria. Sheff has been hurt, and Renteria was rumored to have a torn pectoral muscle, but I never saw that confirmed. Thames has cooled off, but he’s normally pretty streaky anyway. Inge is not a good hitter period.

    Everyone else has been pretty good.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:26 pm

  95. Joe,

    No question Pudge is a HOF’er, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for making baseball in Detroit matter again. I have not heard your angle about the younger guys looking up to him, and it really wouldn’t surprise me. He’s an icon in the Latin countries. I don’t know why management would mind that, though, unless it went to Pudge’s head (he built a giant statue of himself at his home, remember).

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:32 pm

  96. Joel

    “but Monroe and Shelton haven’t exactly caught fire”

    I know. What I was getting at was, are there any success stories of Tigers coaching helping hitters get over their fatal flaws? Besides Granderson, maybe. Joyce could be one, but that would have been in Toledo. And Toledo didn’t seem to do Shelton any good, in the end. It could just be inability/refusal to change on the part of the player. Sure seems like it in many cases, but then again, shouldn’t a coaching staff have at least some real success stories to point to as far as turning a guy around goes?

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:37 pm

  97. They improved Galarraga’s plate discipline, he is 0 for 2 with 3 walks and a .600 OBP.

    Sadly, Armando has a higher OPS+ than Renteria and Jacques Jones. And he’s only marginally behind Pudge.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:47 pm

  98. Sean C: “What I was getting at was, are there any success stories of Tigers coaching helping hitters get over their fatal flaws?”

    Inge’s batting average is terminally low, and the best we can hope for is to keep it comfortable and as painfree as possible in its decline. But he has jacked up his OBP by being more selective and working on shortening his swing. Oh wait, sorry he did that on his own over the summer, nevermind.

    On the other hand, there’s that saying, the man who coaches himself is fooled by the coach…no wait, is it the man who is coached by the fool, foolishly hits the coach who…well, you know what I mean.

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:47 pm

  99. Sean C:

    “What I was getting at was, are there any success stories of Tigers coaching helping hitters get over their fatal flaws?”

    Um, no. But I am sure other teams have them.

    by Vince in MN on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:53 pm

  100. Mark: Good points. I’m not making an attempt to throw DD under the bus or anything. Obviously the organization is better off with him running things. Just a critique on what has been a disappointing season thus far. I do have faith that he’ll be able to retool a bit and keep the team competitive going forward. And Galarraga has tremendous plate discipline…

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:58 pm

  101. Joel in Seattle: ““He was really looked up to by many of the Hispanic players”

    Sheff responds: haha good one! look up to Pudge! I swear half the time I’m talking to him I look over and there’s me! And I’m laughing my damn a– off cause I been talking to my reflection in that shiny helmet he puts on top of the mask when he pulls it up over his other helmet.

    What you mean he wears one helmet, who said that you #@#! I say he wears 2 and I know what I know. But anyway that’s why he’s a good catcher, he doesn’t have to squat as far as other guys. Plus those Latin players have short legs to start with. And they love that hot weather but it softens up the bones and that makes you even shorter.

    The only way anybody’s looking up to Pudge is if he tells them to kneel. And you know what? They’d do it too, cause those kinda players–you know what I’m talking about, right?– that’s just how they are. It’s all Hey I’m Pudge, I’m the Big Man, kneel so I feel tall, and all you hear is “Si Boss” and it’s down on the knees.

    But no way in hell you’re gonna hear Pudge try the “please kneel now” bit on any of the brothers. I swear, Marcus would smack that bigass head so hard Pudge would have a real neck afterward.

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 6:17 pm

  102. Sorry about that, he told me was just gonna say hi, and I totally fell for the “was that your half a ham sandwich you left upstairs” trick.

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 6:20 pm

  103. why is blaine neal playing in china? the guy was striking out more than a guy per inning and his ERA is about 1.40 in about 40 innings of work in toledo. with the mess in our pen why hasn’t this guy had a look?

    by charlie on Aug 4, 2008 at 6:35 pm

  104. “What I was getting at was, are there any success stories of Tigers coaching helping hitters get over their fatal flaws?”

    Um, no. But I am sure other teams have them.

    I know you’re going for the slam on the coaching staff here, cuz that’s what you do. But look at Curtis Granderson. In 2006 he led the league in strikeouts fanning 29% of the time. Last year he cut it to 23% and this year it’s at 17%. He also couldn’t hit lefties, now he can. There’s 2 examples with the same player.

    And McClendon deserves some of the credit in this case. When I spoke with Granderson this winter he talked about working with McClendon to improve his performance against lefties.

    by billfer on Aug 4, 2008 at 6:42 pm

  105. McClendon v Hernandez

    Team Ranks (out of 14 in the AL):

    BA – 3rd
    OBP – 4th
    SLG – 4th
    Runs – 2nd

    ERA – 11th
    K’s – 14th (DEAD LAST)
    BB’s – 12th
    WHIP – 11th

    Yeah, I’d say Chuck ought to be on the hot seat more than Lloyd…

    by Ryan In Brooklyn on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:17 pm

  106. R.I.B: The only way to really compare McClendon vs Hernandez head-to-head would be an extended series of games wherin our own batters face our own pitchers.

    We could probably do this the last couple of weeks in September without drawing undue attention from the league brass, and the resulting .500 record (since I predict most games our batters would beat our pitchers, or vice-versa) would fit the team trend closely enough that it would slide under the radar.

    by Coleman on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:25 pm

  107. I just want to say regarding the earlier talks about some how acquiring David Price for Magglio: WAS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. He was their untouchable. He’s their Rick Porcello. Would you trade Rick Porcello for Carlos Lee (one of Magglio’s most comparable peers)? I wouldn’t. And the Rays are a far smarter than I. They passed on the Xavier Nady trade because the package was too much. They’ve built up their system with a ton of depth in all departments of the game and aren’t going to give away their biggest chip for a slugger who’s going to have to DH, get paid a TON of money for a franchise that isn’t flush with cash, and has an injury history.

    by Mike R on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:55 pm

  108. Billfer:

    “I know you’re going for the slam on the coaching staff here, cuz that’s what you do.”

    If you can cite any time where I have slammed any member of the coaching staff other than Leyland, I would really, really really like to see you reproduce it.

    by Vince in MN on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:48 am

  109. Vince, Bilfer can reproduce anything he wants; he runs this site. And Bilfer, if you want to swear at Vince, you hold down the shift key and hit the numbers like this $#@%^$*.

    by ron on Aug 5, 2008 at 8:06 am

  110. Hard to improve pitching when there isn’t much to choose from. Now Chamberlain might be down in NY. Just bring up pitchers who throw the ephus(sp.) pitch. No one can hit it and it will save arms.

    by ron on Aug 5, 2008 at 11:48 am

  111. The strain on the shoulder area of these modern era pitchers is incredible causing blood clots and other serious injuries. How about underhanding it 60 ft. 6in.?

    by ron on Aug 5, 2008 at 12:02 pm

  112. Hmmm…this post seems pretty out of character (which is a good thing).

    I recall you stood by Todd Jones as the ship went down, which is commendable although I think events proved your loyalty misplaced.

    Let’s all remember one thing. Jim Leyland isn’t perfect, but he’s a fine manager – a job which is a lot more than what goes on in the field at any given time.

    He’s the same guy that people packed Comerica with “Leyland for Governor” t-shirts wearing a couple of years ago.

    There are changes that need to be made for sure, e.g., I’m much more concerned that we didn’t deal Sheffield and / or Renteria before the trade deadline to rebuild a farm system that was decimated in putting this team together.

    If Leyland goes, though, our troubles are only beginning.

    by BaseballinDC on Aug 5, 2008 at 12:10 pm

  113. If a pitcher has good stuff and can’t get it across the plate, then he’s a bum. If you win 6 out of every 10 games, your a darn good pitcher. If you win 5 out of 10 games your a bum. Same goes for a manager.

    by ron on Aug 5, 2008 at 12:16 pm

  114. I’m much more concerned that we didn’t deal Sheffield and / or Renteria before the trade deadline to rebuild a farm system that was decimated in putting this team together.

    Each of those guys would’ve fetched a grade B prospect. Not exactly retooling the farm system. Like it or not, this is the team and will be the team for the forseeable future. Well, maybe not Renteria.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 12:19 pm

  115. I believe bosses,managers, and anyone who has power over at least one person is sticking up for Leyland because of their own insecurities. People like me, the working stiffs who make this country great and the truly responsible ones who are always cleaning up the messes are anti -Leyland.

    by ron on Aug 5, 2008 at 12:53 pm

  116. If Leyland goes, our troubles are only beginning. What, we gonna play .499 ball? Oh yeh, we’re playing that now.

    by ron on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:12 pm

  117. “I believe bosses,managers, and anyone who has power over at least one person is sticking up for Leyland because of their own insecurities. People like me, the working stiffs who make this country great and the truly responsible ones who are always cleaning up the messes are anti -Leyland.”

    There’s a really great way to make everyone listen to your argument without bias.

    by Ryan P on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:16 pm

  118. I believe that ron has just outed himself as a Communist. (JK)

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:22 pm

  119. But Comrade Ron – Leyland owns the means of production. Oh wait – what production? Never mind.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:30 pm

  120. I believe bosses,managers, and anyone who has power over at least one person is sticking up for Leyland because of their own insecurities. People like me, the working stiffs who make this country great and the truly responsible ones who are always cleaning up the messes are anti -Leyland.

    You’re painting with a really broad brush here, ron. I can’t have a valid opinion that Jim Leyland is a good manager simply because I manage people? You are also implying that if my opinion happens to agree with yours, then whether I manage people or not is irrelevant. That’s a ridiculous position to take.

    Leyland (or any manager) is only as good as his talent allows him to be. Is Eric Wedge suddenly a bad manager now that the Indians are in last place? He had them within one game of the World Series last year. They’ve been killed with injuries to key guys, and had some bad luck as well. Or if he’s a bad manager, how did they win the division pulling away last year? Oh yeah, his best players played great. I’m totally on board with questioning Leyland’s in-game strategic decisions, but that’s only part of the evaluation. What about his ability to manage the personalities on his team? To keep players upbeat and relaxed? To know when to fire off on somebody? To put players in a position to succeed (which he does only sometimes?) He tries the hit and run or the squeeze play when he thinks it’s right.

    No manager is perfect. Bobby Cox was fired in Toronto before winning 12 division titles in Atlanta. Did he suddenly figure it out? Or, maybe Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz had something to do with it. Tony Larussa was fired in Chicago due to lack of success and because Hawk Harrleson is an idiot. He goes to Oakland and gets to 2 World Series, then does the same in St. Louis. Did he magically become a good manager? Hmmmm, Canseco, McGwire, Dave Stewart, Eckersley, Pujols, Carpenter, Edmonds. All some pretty good players that stayed healthy and productive.

    This is the same guy that rode a healthy, surprisingly productive team to the World Series in 2006. Did he suddenly forget how to manage?

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:32 pm

  121. Ryan and Mark, I believe you’ve been drawn into Ron’s swirling vortex. There is rarely not at least some tongue in his cheek.

    Mark, you manage people? And to think I trusted you, communicated with you, even.

    by Sean C. in Illinois on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm

  122. damn, i never pick up the satire. sorry ron, if you meant it as a joke. context never travels well via the interweb.

    don’t worry sean, i don’t manage anyone important. just some scrap pieces of paper and a used thimble.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:44 pm

  123. Look at the line up. Every team suffers injuries. Look at our run production. All the guys you mentioned would have the Tigers in first place this year . Your painting managers with a pretty broad stroke yourself.

    by ron on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:49 pm

  124. Of course every team has injuries. My broader point is that any manager is only as good as the talent on his team. Some are better tactitions than others (and again, I think Leyland has some severe shortcoming here), and others know how to get the most out of their players. But if Leyland is a bad manager now, then he was bad manager in 2006, and they went to the Wrold Series in spite of him. And I think that completely overlooks how Leyland changed the mentality of the clubhouse to expect to win instead of just going through the motions. He ranted after the Indians routed them 11-0 that he expected more, grinding ABs and a professional approach. I’m generally a numbers/statistics/show me proof kind of guy, but I do think attitude plays a role in success.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 5, 2008 at 1:59 pm

  125. re: Eric Wedge. Interesting example. Do you hold him accountable for the fact that the 2006 Tribe (+88) and 2008 Tribe (+5) have significantly underperformed their run differentials? Their expected W-L based on that in ’06 was 89-73 (they finished 78-84) and this year their expected W-L is 56-55 (they are 49-62). If he were a good manager, you wouldn’t think his teams would underperform their run differential so markedly in 2 out of 3 seasons. Just a thought.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm

  126. Mark R, you got back to me within 45 minutes. I wouldn’t mind having you as my boss. Yes, it was satire, somewhat. Hey, I was 21 in 65′.

    by ron on Aug 5, 2008 at 2:02 pm

  127. Mark in Chicago, sorry about the R., I was thinking about comrad Mike who lives in those wretched conditions under the railroad tracks.

    by ron on Aug 5, 2008 at 2:12 pm

  128. Very interesting point, Chris in D. I don’t know the answer to your question. My gut tells me that significantly under/overperforming run differential is mostly attibutable to luck. However…

    2005 Indians: 93-69 vs. 96-66 expected
    2004 Indians: 80-82 vs. 81-81 expected
    2003 Indians: 68-94 vs. 73-89 expected

    That’s a pretty consistent underperformance vs. Pythagorean, 27 games under expected through yesterday. I think it’s very plausible that poor managing may play a role in that kind of consistency.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 5, 2008 at 2:16 pm

  129. not a problem, ron. I knew what you meant. As you are no doubt familiar working with other managers, we collectively have our head up our A—-, so I didn’t catch your satire.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 5, 2008 at 2:18 pm

  130. Oh yeh, I’m profoundly influenced at my workplace where the bosses are commonly referred to as deadweight.

    by ron on Aug 5, 2008 at 2:19 pm

  131. Chris in D

    For kicks, I ran Leylands numbers over his career (actual vs. expected):

    2008 55-56 vs. 57-44
    2007 88-74 vs. 89-73
    2006 95-67 vs. 95-67
    1999 72-90 vs. 72-90
    1998 54-108 vs. 58-104
    1997 92-70 vs. 88-74
    1996 73-89 vs. 76-86
    1995 58-86 vs. 62-82
    1994 53-61 vs. 46-68
    1993 75-87 vs. 71-91
    1992 96-66 vs. 92-70
    1991 98-64 vs. 95-67
    1990 95-67 vs. 93-69
    1989 74-88 vs. 76-86
    1988 85-75 vs. 84-76
    1987 80-82 vs. 79-83
    1986 64-98 vs. 77-85 (-13 here!!)

    The net result of all that is to underperform Pythagorean by 5 games over 16+ years, or about 1/3 of a win per year. He did have a very nice stretch from 1990-1994 where he outperformed every year. Does that tell us anything? I really don’t know.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 5, 2008 at 2:32 pm

  132. Interesting, Mark. What I noticed looking at that was, aside from the -13 abortion he had in his first year, his teams pretty much have done what they were supposed to do, give or take a few games. I suppose, then, the conclusion I’d draw is that the word “competent” should be peppered throughout any discussion of Jim Leyland’s career. “Genius” might be a little too hyperbolic.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 2:41 pm

  133. That’s kind of where I went with it, Chris. Although with Eric Wedge you may have something there. That is a staggering amount of consistent underperformance. Is it bad bullpen? Bad luck? Bad managing? You can’t rule any one of those out.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 5, 2008 at 2:54 pm

  134. I’m curious what Alan Trammell would have been able to do with the current group. While I don’t think he showed that he was a great manager, I also don’t know that he got a fair shake. The team was very different, personnel-wise, the year after he left.

    I’m hopelessly biased in this regard, since he’s the reason a kid growing up in Seattle with no ties to the Detroit area became a lifelong Tigers fan. I desperately wanted him to work out as manager.

    by Joel in Seattle on Aug 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

  135. Maybe I’m off here, but don’t these Pythagorean differentials reflect the manager’s tactical skills and not his ability to motivate? That is, winning the close ones? (I’m assuming that over 17 seasons the role of luck in these stats is minimized.)

    If so, and if JL is indeed the motivator he’s credited with being, isn’t he now looking better than we thought? Or am I missing something?

    by Musa D on Aug 5, 2008 at 3:14 pm

  136. Well, Musa, in my opinion it’s probably safe to assume that Pythagorean differentials reflect tactical skills MORESO than ability to motivate. But I can’t say that it doesn’t reflect motivation ability at all. And your point about luck washing out over 17 years is probably true as well.

    Personally, I don’t know if there are other factors in play, so I’m not ready to attribute the entire differential to Leyland’s tactical ability. I would defer to someone else to tell us what other things might impact run differential.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 5, 2008 at 3:26 pm

  137. I think the “motivation” factor in managing only works in short bursts, and is not necessarily a team wide thing. By that I mean helping individual players get out of the inevitable slumps and whatnot by putting them on the bench at the right times etc. One thing I’ll definitely say that Leyland excels at is gaining the respect of his players. Pretty much any player I’ve ever heard talk about him seems to have a genuine admiration for him. Shoot, I think Todd Jones would take a bullet for the man.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 3:36 pm

  138. The most important thing a major league baseball manager does these days is to maximize the success hypotenuse pythagoreanically by harnessing the various momenta engendered through the season whenever the peripherals align.

    by Coleman on Aug 5, 2008 at 4:14 pm

  139. I think I’ve heard Leyland say as much, and it seems like the most obvious statement in the world, but the players performances seem to determine the difficulty of managing a team.

    By this I mean that the bullpen situation would sort itself out in a hurry, and make Jimmy look good in the process, if somebody (or somebodies) stood out as dominant. It could just as well be that Leyland has looked so bad this year because he literally has nothing else to work with. [this doesn't mean i think the rodney meltdown was excusable...he shoulda been yanked]

    I think it would be interesting if there are examples of managers, who through willpower or tactics alone have overcome the circumstances (some freak, some foreseeable) that Leyland has faced this year.

    by Andre in Chi on Aug 5, 2008 at 4:18 pm

  140. I think it would be interesting if there are examples of managers, who through willpower or tactics alone have overcome the circumstances (some freak, some foreseeable) that Leyland has faced this year.

    Well, Fredi Gonzalez keeping the Marlins within striking distance of the NL East lead despite a 5.06 ERA from his starters is saying something. Or what Ron Washington has done with the Rangers despite having to use 32 rookie starting pitchers is pretty swell. That aside, I’m not going to blame Leyland for Dontrelle Willis contracting Steve Blass Disease or Gary Sheffield’s shoulder being blown off in a freak hand grenade accident.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 4:46 pm

  141. Chris-

    I’ll admit that I’m being a little hopeful and naive writing this, but stranger things have happened. We have about 50 games left to make up 6.5 on the Sox and Twins who have “tougher” schedules…and of those 50 games, six are vs. Sox and 3 vs. Twins.

    Not nearly as close to the striking distance Florida is in, but still within the category of determining your own fate.

    by Andre in Chi on Aug 5, 2008 at 4:59 pm

  142. Agree completely, Andre. I have been saying for a couple weeks now that the Sox and Twins both will present the Tigers with an opportunity to win the division, it’s up to the Tigers to take advantage.

    No time like the present.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:03 pm

  143. But Leyland should get full credit for giving Sheffield far too many atbats, Jones far too many appearances, Renteria far too many innings not riding the bench, Robertson far too many starts; and his pitching and bullpen coaches far too many days without contributing in any measurable way to the success of the team. This is a team without any consequences for sucking at what you’re supposed to do. It is a team without a spine.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:07 pm

  144. Sean C.:

    “But Comrade Ron – Leyland owns the means of production. Oh wait – what production? Never mind.”

    Ok, Ron was kidding, but that’s still pretty hilarious.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:09 pm

  145. Mark-

    I make that observation with full knowledge that the Tigers have (largely) failed to take advantage of just these types of situations throughout the year with less pressure on them…

    This is a make or break week not just for them, but will also determine whether or not my W.Sox lovin roommate and I remain friends. I don’t think I can handle anymore comments from him at this point…in fact, I’d say his continuing good health needs a Tigers sweep more than Leyland does.

    I do however look forward to exposing him to real broadcasting, complete with actual insight into the game…that is of course assuming the local feed gets blacked out in favor of FSN Detroit. Seriously, anymore contact with Hawkisms will likely result in my complete mental collapse…kind of like Rodney closing a game.

    by Andre in Chi on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:14 pm

  146. Palmcroft-

    Yes to most of your points…except the Jones one. As spectacularly tense as his saves tended to be in their nature, they occurred at an +85% rate (with the last couple blown possibly as a result of his infrequent use). This is compared to Rodney going 1/5. I’ve said this before, Jones was no treat to watch most of the time…but most of the time he got it done. Most importantly he might not have been the best “pitcher” the Tigers had at their disposal, but the evidence points to him being the best “closer” they had.

    by Andre in Chi on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:21 pm

  147. But Leyland should get full credit for giving Sheffield far too many atbats, Jones far too many appearances, Renteria far too many innings not riding the bench, Robertson far too many starts; and his pitching and bullpen coaches far too many days without contributing in any measurable way to the success of the team. This is a team without any consequences for sucking at what you’re supposed to do. It is a team without a spine.

    Sheffield yes, the rest no. Jones blew all of 3 saves through 4 months of the season. The Tigers blew 2 more in the next week after he was removed.

    Robertson’s on the roster, he’s going to pitch. If he can’t pitch Dombrowski needs to take him off the roster and provide another starting pitcher. And I know this isn’t a popular opinion, but Edgar Renteria is a better player than Ramon Santiago. Renteria should be getting the bulk of the playing time.

    Leyland has made plenty of mistakes this year, but I”m not calling for his head. I don’t think he is a good in game manager, but I also don’t see him doing anything differently than other managers. Unless the Tigers are going to really go a completely different way with managers, and I don’t see dombrowski doing that, I’ll take the guy that can manage the clubhouse. Whether or not Leyland can still do that remains to be seen.

    by billfer on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:23 pm

  148. Bill, this is a sincere offer: Would you be interested in taking a joint-effort FireJimLeyland.com? There is one already (www.fireleyland.com) but maybe we could buy it from the blogger and/or come up with a different address. I’m 100% serious about this since you’re obviously experienced at this whole blog site thing and we tend to agree/have similar looks on baseball.

    No thanks. Not my style and I’m not calling for his head. It’s been a crappy year and he deserves his share of blame for it, but I’m not calling for his head. I think he’ll retire after the season anyways.

    by billfer on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:27 pm

  149. If you can cite any time where I have slammed any member of the coaching staff other than Leyland, I would really, really really like to see you reproduce it.

    Fair enough. My bad. I just lumped it all in with the Leyland hate.

    by billfer on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:28 pm

  150. billfer:

    Apology accepted and no hard feelings on my end. I guess I will resist the temptation of making cynical throw away comments and I should cool it a bit with the anti-Leyland comments too, although it will be real difficult.

    by Vince in MN on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:36 pm

  151. billfer-

    I disagree with you at my own risk on two points:

    1. Robertson hasn’t been “awwwwwful” per se (and may be average for a back of the rotation pitcher) but given the surprising success of an unknown like Galarraga, I just never understood the seemingly unwavering support his spot on the rotation seemed to garner. Granted, there’s a reason its surprising for unknowns do achieve what Battlestar has…it just seemed like a chance they should have taken.

    2. Renteria has definitely shown a track record indicating he has better tools than Santiago, but I’m for players earning their playing time. Track-records enter into the equation, but it does appear that Leyland has favored history to the detriment of production, with Sheffield and Renteria being the more notable examples.

    My frustration is mostly directed at the players, esp. when the whole under-performs to the extent this team has. I’m also aware that at a certain point a manager shuffling a group of under-achievers begins crossing the line into appearing incompetent vs. searching for the right combinations.

    by Andre in Chi on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:45 pm

  152. Bilfer,

    The save stat is Jones’ cover. It’s like a retrovirus piggybacking on the DNA replication of another cell, it’s pure subterfuge. Put it this way: Leyland regularly used a guy with a 5+ ERA in the last inning of games the Tigers really needed to win. It’s like sending-up a pinchitter in the ninth with a .093 batting average, game after game, and most games, somehow, he manages to strikeout but reach first on a dropped third strike.

    Jones MO was to distract the opponent from winning the game by allowing multiple runs via the “rope to the wall” and tease them further by letting the tying and winning runs reach scoring position. That is how Jones “closes” a game.

    That’s fine if you want your team to kinda just showup during the season as a .500+ team that doesn’t go anywhere, but if you plan to reach and advance in the playoffs, do you continue to poison your team with that ninth inning drama? What kind of message is that? “We’re gonna have some fun now, let the hijinks begin!”

    2006 is not going to come around again, a closer must be found, Todd Jones was never a serious solution to finishing a game, he just happened to be on the mound when games ended.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:46 pm

  153. Andre,

    I can empathize. Hawk and DJ are brutal. A Sox fan here at work even hates them, he won’t watch. I have to sit ready to drop the volume on the TV so I can avoid hearing that buffoon speak when he’s excited.

    Alas, you have it far worse than I, with a Sox fan for a roommate. I highly suggest you find a different one regardless of how this series goes. And when the Sox finish their collapse (and there will be one, whether it’s the Tigers or Twins who get them), you can enjoy the silence and torment him accordingly.

    Best of luck.

    by Mark in Chicago on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:52 pm

  154. Palmcroft-

    If anything the Jones situation is a DD production. Leyland looked at his bullpen and sent the best guy for the job out there. Not the guy with the best “stuff”, but the guy that could handle the job. If Leyland wasn’t supposed to send Jones out there, who else was he supposed to send?

    For the people who roast Jones, try offering up an alternative. If you can’t: please, please stop detracting from mostly thoughtful and constructive nature of this blog.

    by Andre in Chi on Aug 5, 2008 at 5:59 pm

  155. Closer is the most overrated position in any sport, and saves the most overrated statistic. Interesting note. In the last 73 year of baseball history, teams leading after the 9th inning by 1 run win 85% of the time, by 2 runs 94% of the time, by 3 runs 95% of the time. If you have the lead in the 9th, you’re likely going to win no matter who takes the mound. I’m sure if you break down Todd Jones’ saves, you will find they mirror those percentages. If you break down Frankie Rodriguez’s saves, I’m sure they’ll mirror those percentages. This sounds like a task for Sean C.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:01 pm

  156. Chris in D-

    Was somebody reading Page 2 today?

    by Andre in Chi on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:03 pm

  157. re: Robertson. For the first half of the season, he routinely kept the Tigers in the game with the typical 6 inning, 4 run effort. I could understand sticking with him. Lately, though, all the hits he’s been giving up have caught up to him and he’s getting shellacked. Right now is where you count on the Powers That Be to make an evaluation on his merits. Is he just getting unlucky? Is he cooked? If it’s the former, keep trotting him out there. If it’s the latter, introduce him to the DL with an “injury”.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:06 pm

  158. Andre: Yeah, Caple reinforced my thoughts on the issue with actual, you know, facts. I mean honestly – should closing an inning with a 3 run lead and no one on base really be considered a noteworthy accomplishment?

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:08 pm

  159. Jones has been a problem that needs to be addressed for some time. The problem has been partially hidden by the deceptive “save” statistic.

    Leyland should have been red-alerting the problem the last three years (seasons 2006-08). If Leyland was begging for a real closer, he must have zero pull with DD. Finally the ’08 draft attempted to answer that need.

    If a closer was needed in ’06 and ’07 and ’08, why was this need not met? The answer is that the Leyland/DD axis never though Todd Jones was problem.

    All along, Todd Jones merely played the odds: there’s a 1 in 3 chance the dude at bat gets a hit, then there’s a 1 in 3 chance the dude behind him gets a hit — even in batting practice. In the manic dash to the third out that is a Todd Jones save, the odds always favored even a below-average pitcher like Jones. If we has used as our closer pitcher X from anywhere in the Tigers organization, they would have had a bunch of saves and few blown saves, just by the nature of the save stastic.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:15 pm

  160. Chris in Dallas,

    Sorry to repeat, I didn’t read your post until after I had posted. Suffice it to say, I agree that the save stat is a weak evaluator of pitching performance.

    by Palmcroft on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:18 pm

  161. Chris in D-

    I’m not sure where I fall on the real impact of a closer. On the one hand it is usually only one inning, with up to a 3 run cushion. On the other, it isn’t always a 3 run cushion and it takes place during what is likely the most high-pressure of circumstances. Good teams don’t need excellent closers to be good…but knowing you have a lights out guy ready to go in the 9th can be awful nice if a team is in the process of rallying against you.

    As the closer situation applies to the Tigers, they have had a largely serviceable if not particularly dominant one in Jones. Dominant closers are few and far between and even then are mercurial…if you haven’t brought one up through the system, you will either get lucky and get one through free agency (likely paying an enormous salary due to the demand) or you have to trade for one (likely giving up lots of high level prospects…due to demand). Either way, filling that void isn’t easy and even then, there’s no guarantee of their success.

    I don’t know if I would go so far as to call them a luxury item, because they do sometimes appear essential in a sport where just a 5% difference in wins means going to the post season. But unless you’re lucky enough to “grow” one, they are a costly item.

    by Andre in Chi on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm

  162. For the people who roast Jones, try offering up an alternative.

    At this point, I say Bobby Seay. Despirate times call for despirate measures. He doesn’t have the stuff of a half the guys in the bullpen, and he is by no means closer material, but I think he can locate the ball the best of everyone in the bullpen.

    If the opponent can score a run or two without the benefit of a walk or a HR, more power to them at this point.

    by T Smith on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:34 pm

  163. Palmcroft-

    There’s another layer above DD…one that figures heavily in the acquisition of a uni-situation player such as a closer. Maybe all along Leyland has been lobbying DD, who for all we know whole-heatedly agreed with Jim. That still leaves the owner to convince when it comes to paying for a lights out closer.

    My guess is that they looked at Jones as a guy that averaged just over 38 saves a year in his previous three with the team. Yeah, his ERA was jumping…but ultimately he was performing the task assigned him and there seemed to be bigger holes to plug.

    Even assuming that the closer was a problem that needed to be addressed going into the season, for whatever reason it wasn’t and the Tigers are left with what they have. So Jones gets run out of the closer spot…are we better off now?

    EDIT: only two of those 3 years I mentioned were with Detroit (06-07), he was with Florida in 05 (40 saves).

    by Andre in Chi on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:35 pm

  164. Andre: Totally agree that free agent closers are very costly (see Cordero, Francisco). I think it’s stupid of an organization to go that route, though, when there are always viable options within your own house. Watch what the Mets do now that Wagner is on the DL. I bet they don’t skip a beat. I’m not saying that closers are worthless. The idea of the ‘save’ is silly though. So many times the most important outs are in the 6th through 8th innings. To a degree I can understand holding back your best guy until the 9th. What if you bring him in in the 7th, and then he’s not available in a tight situation later? That’s a gamble. The whole ‘he must only ever be used in this particular circumstance’ mentality seems foolish to me, though. Here’s a box. Please think outside of it.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:37 pm

  165. I also think that Todd Jones remained a Tiger due to Joel Zumaya’s recent history of ill health. Had the whole ruptured finger/box moving malady not happened, he’d probably have taken over in that role at some point in ’07. If not ’07, definitely by Spring Training in ’08. At least that’s my read on the situation.

    by Chris in Dallas on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:39 pm

  166. Chris in D-

    That’s an interesting way of thinking about it. I guess I kinda like the idea of the “stopper” approach now that you (and others if they have) mentioned it, even if its a gamble that can bite you if made too early. Reminds me of the 3 substitute limit that they have in football…er soccer. You have three, regardless of injuries or overtime…use them wisely.

    by Andre in Chi on Aug 5, 2008 at 6:45 pm

  167. Chrissindallas: “Closer is the most overrated position in any sport, and saves the most overrated statistic.”

    Well, if you put it that way, you know someone’s gonna come up with ONE position in SOME sport that’s less important, you’re basically begging for it. Perhaps to punish yourself for your bloodthirsty tendencies. Any way, I’ll leave that for Seancinillinois, I think it’s his turn.

    Aw, what the hell…OK, what about that dude in curling that goes along sweeping the ice…I mean, there’s no way it makes that much of a difference.

    by Coleman on Aug 5, 2008 at 8:18 pm

  168. Ron: August 5th, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    To you guys who have only been Tigers fans since 2006: .499 is a lot better than what we had before Leyland. If you really believe that other managers would have had the Tigers in first, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

    by BaseballinDC on Aug 5, 2008 at 10:59 pm

  169. Make that 1952. You could have had the Tigers in first place.

    by ron on Aug 6, 2008 at 11:41 am

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About the Site Detroit Tigers Weblog was launched in July, 2001. At the time it was the only Tigers blog and it resided as a blogspot page. There were multiple authors and it mostly consisted of links to the rare times the Tigers were mentioned in the national media. We only had a few dozen […]more →

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