5 Reasons Jim Leyland Is Too Washed Up to Manage the Detroit Tigers

Michael Bielecki@mbieleckiContributor IIIApril 12, 2012

5 Reasons Jim Leyland Is Too Washed Up to Manage the Detroit Tigers

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    Jim Leyland has had a great career as a manager in MLB.  

    He has reached the World Series in the National League and the American League with the Marlins and Tigers and had several more near-misses with the Pirates.  

    But at 67, is Leyland getting too old to effectively manage a baseball team?

    The decisions "Old Smokes" makes can be baffling, and he gives the press fewer and fewer explanations for his actions.  Did Dave Dombrowski make the wrong decision in bringing him back for the 2012 season?

    The Tigers are stacked this year, and early indications say that only Leyland will stop them from a deep playoff run in 2012. 

5. Leyland's Lineups Can Be Awful

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    During the past few years, Tigers fans have been treated to a variety of unorthodox moves in the batting order.  To be more exact, it's what he doesn't do that can be so mysterious.

    Austin Jackson has paid dividends so far in 2012 at leadoff, but during the past two years, he has struck out nearly 350 times.

    Even in this day of sabermetrics, it's hard to see the bright side to leaving a guy at the top of the order who strikes out one in every three at bats.

    Just as puzzling, Leyland refuses to switch the batting order around when key, top-of-the-order players are missing.  

    There was a point last year when, if Brennan Bosch was hurt or not in the lineup, Leyland would bat Ryan Raburn (who also strikes out about one-third of the time) second or third. The skipper wasn't just doing this when Raburn was enjoying a blistering second-half, he did it when Raburn was hitting .200 or less.

    There have also been Don Kelly sightings anywhere in the 1-4 spots in the order in spring training and the regular season.

    Why can't Leyland move a guy up that can actually scare opposing pitchers, like Alex Avila?

    His lineups can be simply baffling.

4. His Love Affair with Ryan Raburn Hurts the Team

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    When will Jim Leyland learn that Ryan Raburn isn't an everyday player?  

    His love affair with Raburn defies logic to the point that you wonder if Leyland is being bribed.

    The slugging utility man has struck out 206 times in 758 at bats in the past two seasons, and he's hit around .200 before the All-Star break and in the high .300s after.

    Further, Raburn becomes a liability once he fields a position—any position.  

    It is quite possible he is the worst fielding second baseman in the league, and watching him play the outfield is a true adventure.

    Raburn, once again this spring, was one of the hottest hitters in MLB.  He's batting .125 so far this season—business as usual for Leyland's pet project.

    But Leyland is determined to make Raburn a household name.  He has succeeded amongst Tigers fans who usually include a four-letter word either before or after uttering his name.

3. Will Leyland Kill Alex Avila Again in 2012?

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    Alex Avila, 25, started 130 games at catcher last season, which is an alarmingly high number for someone so young.  

    The backstop hit .295 and was a sliver slugger in 2011, but his tools faded badly in the playoffs because he was playing injured.

    Gerald Laird was brought back this year to spell Avila, as Victor Martinez proved to be too injury-prone last season to put behind the plate.

    Martinez was supposed to catch about 40 games last year, but ended up catching in a career-low 26 games instead.

    Hopefully, Leyland will catch Avila only about 100 games and get Avila into the lineup as designated hitter a few dozen times this season.

2. Leyland's Pitching Moves Keep Getting Worse

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    Much like Sparky Anderson at the end of his career, Jim Leyland's pitching moves just keep getting worse.  

    He pulls pitchers when he should leave them in, leaves pitchers in who should be pulled and puts pitchers in situations in which they are destined to fail.

    Leyland's pitching decisions started looking questionable after Al Albuquerque got hurt last year.  

    Without him, Leyland seemed to be at a loss for a middle relief pitcher when Joaquin Benoit was unavailable. Between Daniel Schlereth and Ryan Perry, he would put them into the tight game situations only to see them fail.

    Wednesday's game Verlander was throwing an 84-pitch shutout into the 9th inning, and Leyland let his ace go after it was apparent he didn't have control of his curve or changeup.

    He should have been lifted immediately for Jose Valverde, when it was apparent he was just going to throw fastballs.  That, or just leave your ace in the game to clean up his own mess.

    Well, Verlander was lifted, after surrendering the lead and putting runners in scoring position. Leyland went to his main man Schlereth to get out a tough lefty in Matt Joyce. 

    Tampa Bay switched their left-handed batter for a right-handed pinch hitter.  

    Here, Leyland could have brought in Valverde, who was completely warmed up, to pitch to the right-hander.  It was not to be, as Schlereth walked the pinch-hitter and was immediately lifted for Valverde.

    At least Ryan Perry isn't still on the team for Leyland to use.

1. Leyland Is Too Short with the Press

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    Jim Leyland might be the worst interview in all of Detroit area sports.  

    Would it kill him to give more than the minimal answer to reporters?  

    He offers very little insight into his personnel decisions, and when questioned about his batting order, he gets downright rude.  Is life as a MLB manager really that tough?

    To a certain extent, Detroit has embraced him as a working man's manager, but the grumpy, old-man charm is starting to wear thin.  

    Our only hope, as Detroit fans, is that this team is too bullet-proof to fail, and he rides off into the sunset of retirement after the 2012 season.