Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why the Tigers need to extend Jim Leyland's contract

Last summer, unexpectedly, and long before the Tigers took control of the American League Central race, they extended the contract of team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski for five years, but manager Jim Leyland for only one.
At the time, I didn't think it was a good move, at least with Leyland, that he was at a point where he had to deliver the goods by winning the division title, which was just sitting there for the Tigers, who had faded consistently during the second half starting in 2007.
It turned out to be a moot point when the Tigers rolled to the division title, won their ALDS series against the Yankees and pushed the Rangers hard in the ALCS.
Ultimately, Leyland earned that extra year. I think he should get another extension beyond this season, but the reason is more than the success the Tigers had in 2011.
Leyland enters this season as essentially a lame duck manager, who has been put in a position where he is going to have handle some big stars with big contracts and big egos.
Maybe there will be no turmoil with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder playing the same position, first base, but only one spot. Perhaps it will be as simple as Cabrera moving to third, playing like Michael Jack Schmidt, and the Tigers living happily ever after. I doubt Cabrera will be good at third based on 2008 when he was awful there, but it could happen.
But what if it doesn't? What if Leyland has to call the shots on a daily basis about who is the DH or at first base. What if noses get out of joint because of his decisions? What if, after what figures to be extraordinary hype, the Tigers get off to a slow start? What if this leads to some difficulties in the clubhouse?
Leyland, who is not afraid to do so, will put his foot down. But what is his leverage with the players? None if he is just on a one-year contract.
His authority in the clubhouse would be far greater if the players know he is going to be the Tigers manager for awhile.


Blogger Fred Brill said...

One caller on the radio yesterday put it best - "I can't wait to go to a Sunday game and see Kelly at 1st and Laird DH" - and the guy made a point.

But on a whole, I think Leylands the best answer at Skip right now - now more than ever with something like $350M in total tied up at 1st.

12:40 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, Absolutely, Leyland is the most important person in this situation, managing the on field oprerations, and the personalities involved. Based
on what he has said in the past, I doubt he would be interested in more than a 1 year extension, but doing it would be smart. Dave

2:25 PM 
Anonymous Mitch said...

Leyland has said numerous times, including after this last extension- that he only wants one year contracts because he hated walking away from the Rockies when he felt burned out. 

9:32 PM 
Anonymous woody said...

i'm interested to see what solution Leyland comes up with for the DH slot...will he split it evenly three ways among Fielder, Cabrera, and Young or some other arrangement?

bit of an odd situation in that all 3 are in the prime of their careers...not a typical time to be DHing. baseball is a game of routines, shuffling the DH slot could be disruptive for certain players.

11:30 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good problem to have but potentially disruptive. This all depends on how well Cabera responds to getting beat up at third and also moving over to DH in his prime. Will be an unstable situation for Cabby.

I still smell a rat, Fred's last sentence tells it all, why pour tons of money into two players that are alike, although, are admittedly HoFers with big egos.

We need to obtain good players at 2nd, 3rd, 5th starter, catcher. But, I know, who has a perfect team?

Could there be a contingency for a blockbuster trade in mid-season? But let's play it out and enjoy two bombers scaring the hell out of pitchers.

11:19 AM 

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