Jim Leyland Must Prove to Team and Fans Contract Extension Was Deserved

Matt SCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2009

SEATTLE - APRIL 19:  Manager Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers signs a baseball before the game against the Seattle Mariners on April 19, 2009 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Jim Leyland has not had much success with the Tigers after the All-Star break, that much has been noted, but the Tigers' brass has already decided to reward Jimmy with two more years.

I hope he earns it.

Jim has done the job thus far; he has the team at the top of the pack of the pesky Central Division at the halfway point.

But will they sustain their lead?

That's the $64,000 question.

With a bullpen that is shaky and a lineup that often scuffles, it appears that Jim Leyland's club may have a debt-to-asset ratio that's dangerously high for a first-place team.

That's not to say that he's without his horses; Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson show no signs of slowing. Both pitchers have seemingly put everything together and may both receive strong consideration for the AL Cy Young award when all is said and done.

That being said, Justin and Edwin can't act as the crutch the team uses to hobble into the postseason. The weight of an entire team's fate is too much for any two players to endure.

Jim Leyland needs to find legs the team can stand on in the back of the rotation and in the bullpen.

With Verlander and Jackson, Leyland need only to "set it and forget it", but with young Rick Porcello, inconsistent Armando Galarraga, unknown Luke French, and a fly by night bullpen, Jim will need to act as the puppet master, pulling all the strings at the precise moment to achieve pitching success.

In the same way, Leyland needs to be proactive with his lineups. The regime of the "good ol' boys" seems to be out-Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen have been non factors this year-the kids have taken over the outfield.

Again, Jim needs to pull all the right strings with his outfield rotation. With Guillen nearing a return, Magglio's continued slump, and Ryan Raburn and Clete Thomas' hot-then-cold bats, the skipper needs to prove that he is able to manage the club in first place fashion.

Each and every Tiger fan has his or her own idea of how the rotation should be set, how relief pitchers are used, and who hits on what day-but Jim Leyland's ideas are, ultimately, the only ideas that count.

Jim Leyland's ideas are what, supposedly, got him the contract extension.

I, for one, want to see him earn it.