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Leyland has had a successful career as a manager. He ranks 19th all time on the managerial win list. He boasts a World Series ring, is a three time manager of the year and has won two pennants. Despite that, he has a below .500 career record with 1550 wins to go against 1568 loses.
This season, Leyland seems to be struggling, and one has to wonder if it is time to make a move. Now all managers get blasted over pitching calls. Either they leave a pitcher in too long or pull them too early. It is one of the moves for which managers are most likely to get blasted. To nitpick each one is pointless, but Leyland seems to have had more of these than most managers.
His most blatant “what was he thinking” moment occurred against Chicago last month. The White Sox were slowly gaining ground on the Tigers and this was to be an important series. In this game the Sox had just tied it up, the bases were loaded and for whom does Leyland make a call to the bullpen?
Chance Ruffin. Ruffin had just been called up to the big leagues and this was to be his major league debut. To throw a kid into a bases-loaded situation in his debut is just cruel, especially in such an important game.
Ruffin gave up a double, then later a home run. While he needed to get his chance at some point, you don’t feed him to the wolves.
The Tigers have struggled with Leyland during the second half of every season he has been in Detroit. This year, since the All-Star break, they are 8-8. While not great, sadly that is an improvement over past seasons.
The biggest knock right now on Leyland is his lineup and how he juggles it. He doles out playing time as though it’s a kindergarten team. He tries to keep things even. While it is important to give players a break from time to time, Leyland goes overboard.
What makes it even worse is how he will sit two All-Star players then belligerently claim that he is putting out the best team that night? Resting players is fine in moderation, but stop trying to pass off the sub lineup as the best team. He did this repeatedly while insisting on playing Brandon Inge and his sub .200 batting average night after night.
It is almost comical to hear a press conference when he gets so angry at the simplest of questions. In several conversations with reporters he gets irate over questions on the lineup or batting order. He has even offered to let any of the reporters fill out the lineup
ESPN.com writer Dan Szymborski recently wrote about the most polarizing lineups in MLB history. The Tigers ranked No. 1 on the dubious list which ranked the difference between a team’s top four and bottom four hitters based on OPS. It seems that if Leyland stuck with the crazy idea of actually playing the best players, then the team would be much better.
If the Tigers are going to win, they may have to do so in spite of the skipper. Regardless of his moves, they should make the playoffs. One would hope that come playoff time he would quit resting players.