Tag:Jim Leyland
Posted on: October 4, 2011 12:06 am

Leyland's lineup tinkering pays off in Game 3

By Matt Snyder

Ramon Santiago only started the game batting second 16 times for the Tigers this season. He only hit .260 with a .311 on-base percentage, limited power and no stolen bases in the regular season. And here he was, Monday night, slotted second in the Tigers' batting order against big Yankees ace, CC Sabathia.

One of the reasons given by manager Jim Leyland for the move was that Santiago is a good bunter.

In the bottom of the third inning, Santiago came to bat with runners on first and second, no one out, and Delmon Young, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez being the three hitters behind him. Obviously, he was called upon to bunt. He failed on that front. With two strikes, however, Santiago swung away and gathered an RBI single, getting the Tigers on the board and cutting the Yankees lead to 2-1.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Santiago came to bat with a runner on second and the score tied at two. He sent a drive deep to left-center field that nearly left the yard. It resulted in a go-ahead RBI double.

The Tigers never trailed again, even though they did need to break a tie again -- and did, on Delmon Young's eighth-inning home run.

Young's home run was huge, as was Justin Verlander settling in for a dominant stretch in the middle of the game, but Leyland tinkering with the lineup and putting Santiago in the two-hole turned out to be a winning move.

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 5:55 pm

Leyland: Yankees video paints Tigers as JV

New York-Detroit ALDS
By Matt Snyder

As noted in Danny Knobler's column after the Tigers' Game 2 victory over the Yankees in the ALDS, closer Jose Valverde said the series was over. No, he didn't insinuate or imply anything. He flat out said, "it's over." With the series tied 1-1 and the Yankees rolling out CC Sabathia Monday night against Justin Verlander, it's a bit curious. But hey, Valverde isn't shy and I have no problem whatsoever with confidence.

When asked about Valverde's proclamation Monday night, Tigers manager Jim Leyland turned the tables and let his feelings be known about the Yankees' pre-game video intro at home. Via NJ.com:
“First of all, I don't think I saw anything about guarantee. That's number one. I do think he said -- I think when you read all the stories about it, he admitted it was tongue in cheek when he said it.

Second of all, I didn't take offense to the video at Yankee Stadium when they were talking about the World Series, like we were the junior varsity and they were getting ready for the World Series. I didn't take offense to that at all. In fact, I thought it was great. That's what they should be talking about. I don't really think that.

I don't believe in this stuff. I would hate to think the New York Yankees or the Detroit Tigers need any bulletin board stuff to get fired up this time of year. I would take that with a grain of salt. I didn't see anything about a guarantee.”
I couldn't agree more with the last paragraph. I've long wondered by such a huge deal is made about words leading up to big games. Unless someone crosses a line -- racial, family taunts, etc. -- it's pretty irrelevant. When playing in the playoffs, there's no extra motivation needed.

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 10:32 am

Pepper: Crawford apologizes to Red Sox fans

By Matt Snyder

With the Rays climbing to within two games of the Red Sox in the AL wild-card race, it's going to be a fun final two weeks for baseball fans. Some interesting perspective on the drama comes from current Red Sox and former Rays' left fielder Carl Crawford.

Crawford played nine seasons and 1,253 regular-season games for the Rays. He's easily the best player in the history of the young franchise at this point, but he walked this past offseason for a seven-year, $142 million deal and signed with the Red Sox. And he's now having the worst season of his career, from an individual standpoint.

In a diary entry for ESPN.com, Crawford notes that hears the boos from "haters" when the Red Sox visit Tampa Bay and that those fans need to realize he's going to be coming back for six more years. Two more entries of note:

"If Tampa makes a miracle comeback and takes the wild card from us, I will be devastated. I definitely wouldn't want to lose to those guys and watch them get into the playoffs while we go home. That would just be devastating to me."

And ...

"I want to end the diary saying something to the fans of Boston. I just want to say I'm sorry for the year I've had. You guys have been really supportive and I appreciate that. Hopefully when we get into these playoffs, I can be the real Carl Crawford that I know I am. We'll see."

I love seeing that kind of accountability from someone who could easily just blow everyone off and count his millions.

Ironman: Speaking of the Rays, Johnny Damon has now tied Pete Rose and Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Hank Aaron with an impressive streak. Damon has now played in at least 140 games in 16 different seasons, making it a four-way tie atop the all-time record book (TampaBay.com). Does anyone doubt Damon can do it again next year and set the record? I sure don't.

More from Damon: This is funny, and true. Damon points out that Red Sox fans have to root for the Yankees now. “They’re going to have to root for them if they want a chance at the postseason,” Damon said (BostonHerald.com). “They couldn’t root for me when I played in New York. Now they have to root for the whole team.” Man, how much are Yankees fans relishing this?

Happy Birthday: Hall of Famer Joe Morgan turns 68 Monday (Hardball Times). The two-time MVP is widely considered the best second baseman to ever play the game (and was also a broadcaster for years, but we'll leave that alone, being his birthday and all ... )

While we're here: Speaking of Joe, he just led the world's largest chicken dance. Check it out (via Big League Stew):

Sigh: Tigers manager Jim Leyland says he isn't an "on-base percentage guy." (MLB.com) Look, Leyland knows a lot more about baseball than I do, which is quite an obvious fact. But that doesn't mean he can't be wrong about certain things. I just don't understand what it is with the so-called "old-school mentality" that prevents people from grasping that OBP is the percentage of times batters don't make an out. I don't get how you can not be an OBP guy. You go to the plate with a bat. The main object is to not make an out. It's very, very simple. Leyland, thankfully, doesn't say he likes batting average, but instead slugging. Slugging percentage is much more important than average, but OBP is much more important. Think about it. Even if you're just churning out singles and walks over and over, you're still scoring runs. Slugging is very important, too, which is why OPS has gotten more and more run in recent years.

Humbled Ozzie: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen recently made a trip to the Negro Baseball League Museum in Kansas City and came away with a renewed appreciation for everything he has. "It’s so different, and sometimes you shake your head at what these guys went through all this stuff for baseball to be better now than then," he said (Chicago Tribune).

Shoot him up: Phillies slugging first baseman Ryan Howard has bursitis in his left ankle, and he'll have a cortisone shot to help him deal with the issue the rest of the season. (MLB.com)

Johan 'felt good:' Mets ace Johan Santana threw a three-inning simulated game Sunday and he "felt good." (ESPN New York)

Johnson wants Wang back: Chien-Ming Wang has been a bit inconsistent in his return to the hill this season, but he's shown flashes of being solid -- like in his quality-start win Sunday. It will be tough to squeeze into the Nationals' rotation next season, especially if they land a free agent like C.J. Wilson, but current Nats manager Davey Johnson says he'd bring Wang back. "As far as I'm concerned, he's a keeper," Johnson said (MASN Sports).

Don't rush: Rockies starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa underwent Tommy John surgery June 3, but he's looking to be back by opening day of next season. That wouldn't be unheard of, but it would be just 10 months after a procedure which typically has a 10-14 month recovery period. So it would certainly be a quick recovery. Jim Tracy, his manager, wants De La Rosa to be patient. “I told him (De La Rosa) about Dr. Jobe and the importance of following the program and don’t try to deviate,’’ said Tracy (DenverPost.com). “Don’t try to speed it up. If you do that and you follow the program and you don’t try to speed it up, you’ll feel like you have a bionic arm. Because it will completely heal and you’ll basically have a brand new elbow.

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 10:12 am

Pepper: Beltran wants Giants to upgrade offense


By Evan Brunell

Wanted: more offense -- Carlos Beltran has enjoyed his time in San Francisco, but it could only last a few months.

The free-agent outfielder told the San Jose Mercury News that playing for the Giants would be fantastic with its pitching staff, plus the returns of Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez should boost the offense next season. But that's not enough.

"I believe there should be a little bit more than that," he said, referring to the offense.

But where should the team upgrade? Catcher, second base and third are spoken for. Aubrey Huff will be in his final season while Brandon Belt is ready to play full-time, so split first base and left field between the two players. If Beltran comes back, that's right field sewed up. That leaves shortstop, with no real internal candidate, and center field.

Of course, Jose Reyes has gotten a lo of attention as the marquee free agent, but the Giants will have to pay a pretty penny for Reyes' services. In center, the team might as well keep Andres Torres if its next-best option is Coco Crisp, although Grady Sizemore could be attractive if the Indians decline their club option.

But the Giants have to worry about money, too. They have $80 million committed to just six players next year, one of which won't be playing for the team in Aaron Rowand. To resign Beltran and bring in another top-flight hitter to please Beltran? That's pushing it.

"You want to be in a lineup where you are around players that will make the lineup better, you understand?" Beltran said. "Right now we have missed a leadoff batter here, and that's huge. That's something, to me, they should address that area, before me."

Weak Central
: Jim Leyland has a lot of expletive-filled thoughts as to the AL Central being so weak, the Tigers' accomplishments may be hurt. “You're looking for something to take something away from them,” Leyland complained to MLive.com . “I don't want to talk about that. That's [expletive]. That's total [expletive]. Let me remind you of something. It was three months ago, two months ago, that the [expletive] Cleveland Indians were the talk of baseball. Everybody was saying they were pretty [expletive] good. Now, all of a sudden, because we beat them they're [expletive]? That's not fair. That's unfair.”

Moving to right: Carlos Gonzalez will be the team's right fielder next season, Rockies manager Jim Tracy says, citing Gonzalez's arm as the reason why. He's already made the move and has 12 assists in just 34 games. (MLB.com)

Staying in Japan? Phenom Yu Darvish is re-thinking whether or not he will come to America for 2012,. His team, Nippon Ham, is eager to post Darvish and reap the profits but Japan's best pitcher is unsure the time is right to make the leap. (NPB Tracker)

Humidor time: The Rockies love everything about their Triple-A franchise...except the fact that it's a launching pad for hitters, robbing pitchers of development time. As a result, a humidor will be installed next season. (Denver Post)

The story of Trayvon: Seattle's newest outfielder, Trayvon Robinson, had a tough upbringing with a home in south-central Los Angeles, split between warring gang factions and attending the high school featured in Boys N The Hood. It's a feature well worth reading. (Seattle Times)

Setback: Dodgers ex-closer Jonathan Broxton has suffered a setback in his recovery from an injured elbow. Broxton will become a free-agent and will have to look around for a one-year deal to rehabilitate his value. (MLB.com)

One year later: A year ago, a baseball bat pierced Tyler Colvin's chest. What could have been a serious incident has now passed and Colvin is back in the majors -- albeit struggling. (MLB.com)

Jays resurgence: Part of Toronto's resurgence has been the successful adding of young players both inside and outside of the organization. More help is on  the way as indicated by the Jays making the minor-league postseason with five of seven teams. But will Toronto make its move in the offseason or wait for more help to arrive? (Canoe.ca)

No diamond: The city of Detroit has nixed an offer from Chevrolet to preserve the diamond at Tiger Stadium, which is mostly demolished these days. Why did the city do that? Because it's trying to keep the space open for significant redevelopment, which the city would jump at to improve its flagging revenues. (Detroit Free Press)

Still playing: Aaron Cook won't retire, but the Rockie who receives his final start in Colorado on Wednesday also certainly won't be back. (Denver Post)

Morgan or Sandberg? Reds announcer Marty Brennaman believes that Morgan was the better second baseman than Sandberg, which the author terms a "controversial" topic. Really? (Chicago Tribune)

Still playing: Amir Garrett, who was picked in the 22nd round of the MLB draft, hopes to play basketball as a freshman this winter after being declared ineligible by the NCAA. Garrett signed a $1 million deal with the Reds and is expect to join the team after college basketball is over. (Eye on College Basketball)

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 9:03 pm

Tigers won't change underwear until they lose

Jim Leyland

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The 66-year-old manager of the Tigers, Jim Leyland, has been called crusty before, but that's because of his age and his sometimes gruff demeanor. He may be earning the adjective for another reason.

"I will wear these underwear until we lose," Leyland said on Thursday according to MLive.com's Chris Iott. "I can tell you that right now. And they will not be washed. And I don't give a (expletive) who knows it."

Leyland's also not changing his socks and smoking a cigar every day before the game -- as not to mess with a winning streak that had reached 12 games before Thursday night's game and make the air around him as unpleasant as possible. But if you think it's only his office that will have a particular odor, the coaches' locker room probably isn't much better. Wednesday it was revealed in USA Today that hitting coach Lloyd McClendon wasn't changing his drawers either while the team is on a hot streak.

"Guys are getting a little uncomfortable standing next to me now," McClendon told USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "They believe they can't be beat. So if this thing keeps going, it can get ugly."

And smelly. 

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Posted on: September 9, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 4:18 pm

Who is frontrunner for AL Manager of the Year?

By Evan Brunell

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL Manager of the Year

View contenders for the: AL MVP | NL MVP | AL Cy Young | NL Cy Young | AL Rookie of the Year | NL Rookie of the Year

Manager of the Year voting is fairly unique in all of baseball's modern awards. Winning a lot of games gets you immense credit, but not if you've been on a winning streak for some time. That's why Terry Francona has yet to win the award despite already ranking as Boston's best skipper in franchise history -- unless you consider it Joe Cronin, who never won a ring. Manager of the Year voting is largely awarded to those who succeeded with teams that weren't thought to be contenders. That influences the list of five skippers below, listed alphabetically. (Only three names can be listed on a ballot.)

Manny Acta, Indians
Current record through Sept. 8: 70-71
2010 Indians record: 69-93

Acta is certainly a prime candidate for the award, as no one expected the Indians to get this relevant quickly. After trading one losing situation for another when being fired in Washington, Acta's stature is on the rise. Known as a skipper who studies sabermetric concepts, Acta is also known for his enthusiasm and has many fans in the game. Acta has seen an Indians team survive no shortage of injuries that cut its Cinderella season short, but put baseball on notice that the Indians are a team to take seriously.

Terry Francona, Red Sox
Current record: 85-58
2010 Red Sox record: 89-73

As mentioned above, Francona has never won an Manager of the Year award. At this point, Boston's success is expected, which sets Francona back in his chances to win the award, especially when the offseason saw two high-flight acquisitions join the offense after missing the postseason in 2010. But Francona's work so far this year should be commended, as the team weathered a 2-10 start to sit atop the division for periods at a time. The team has been hit hard by injuries in the pitching staff, but the team has been able to keep it together. It can't be easy to manage a team as loaded as the Red Sox, weighed down by all expectations, but Francona has been able to keep the team free of controversy and focused on the prize.

Jim Leyland, Tigers
Current record: 81-62
2010 Tigers record: 81-81

Unlike the Red Sox, the Tigers had fairly minimal turnover aside from the blockbuster signing of Victor Martinez. Yet, the team has already matched its wins total from 2010 and has the division in hand, setting the team up for just its second playoff appearance since 1987. The other time making the playoffs was Leyland's first year in Detroit, when the team won the AL pennant before falling to the Cardinals. Leyland's done all this despite having to put a fire out in spring training when Miguel Cabrera was arrested for a DUI. The resulting effects could have torn the team apart, but it didn't. When you combine the Tigers' success plus Leyland's stature in the game, you get the mix of someone who should be considered the frontrunner for the award.

Joe Maddon, Rays
Current record: 78-64
2010 Rays record: 96-66

Yes, Maddon's team has taken a clear step back. Just a year after winning the division title, the Rays are slated to miss the playoffs by a fairly significant margin. And yet, this year has to be considered a success. Tampa Bay was clearly out of the race from Opening Day thanks to the presence of the Yankees, a beefed-up Sox team and a Rays club that saw the subtraction of Carl Crawford, Matt Garza and nearly the entire bullpen. Yet, here the Rays are, 14 games above .500 and with an outside shot at the wild card.

Mike Scioscia, Angels
Current record: 78-65
2010 Angels record: 80-82

Scioscia has already won the award twice -- 2002 and 2009 -- but could be adding a third. Despite having to contend with another season without Kendrys Morales and GM Tony Reagins foisting Vernon Wells onto him, Scioscia has the Angels threatening to take away the Rangers' division hopes. Scioscia isn't without his warts, as his insistence on playing catchers who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a bat shows, but he's clearly doing something right. The Angels have long overperformed with Scioscia at the help and this year is no different with a below-average offense being shored up by a trio of pitchers in Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.

Let us know in the comments who your AL manager of the year is.

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Posted on: August 27, 2011 5:13 pm

Leyland clarifies MVP comments

Justin VerlanderBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Friday Tigers manager Jim Leyland told a radio station that he didn't think a pitcher should win MVP -- on Saturday he clarified that statement, saying he supported his pitcher, Justin Verlander, winning the MVP but he philosophically didn't believe a pitcher should win the award.

"I will support Justin Verlander for the MVP to the hilt," Leyland told reporters (MLive.com). "I want to make that perfectly clear. The question that was asked of me was if I thought a pitcher should be the MVP. And my answer to that is no. But under the way the system is, I certainly will support Verlander to the hilt."

In today's black and white world, someone is always going to yell about another person's opinion and how they're stupid and all that. Instead, I'll just disagree. I disagree with Leyland that a pitcher shouldn't be eligible for the MVP, but I don't begrudge him his opinion -- Leyland has more baseball knowledge in one of his discarded cigarette butts than I'll ever have, I just disagree. So too does our own Evan Brunell, who wrote about this earlier this week and made a pretty good case for including a pitcher in MVP voting. Last year I had an MVP vote and had two starting pitchers in my top 10, but neither in the top five.

However, for a pitcher to win the MVP, he'd have to have a truly special season -- and Verlander may just be on that road -- even if my vote (if I had one, which I do not) right now would go to Jose Bautista.

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 2:16 pm

Leyland doesn't think Verlander should win MVP

By Matt Snyder

MVP Debate
There's still more than a month left in the 2011 baseball season -- in which, yes, stats accrued actually count in MVP voting -- but that hasn't stopped rampant debate over who "deserves" to be the MVP, especially in the AL. Thus far, the names that seem to have the most traction in AL MVP debates are Jose Bautista, Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson and a trio of Red Sox (Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez). Many people want to automatically toss out Verlander due to him being a pitcher and others want to disqualify Bautista due to him playing for a "losing" team -- the Blue Jays have a winning record but aren't playoff-bound.

An interesting twist in the argument now is that Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't even believe his own candidate should win. On WXYT radio in Detroit, Leyland said the following (via Sports Radio Interviews):
“I have a different viewpoint than that. I think there should be a Most Valuable Pitcher and Most Valuable Player. I don’t think a pitcher should be the Most Valuable Player. I’m not looking for arguments or controversy I just think when a guy goes out there 158 times or 155 times and has a big year, an MVP type year I don’t think the guy that goes out there 35 times should be named over that guy. To me right now if you really wanted to look at it who is our Most Valuable Player? Is it Verlander or at this point today under all circumstances is it Alex Avila? You can make a case for what this kid has gone through. I’m certainly not taking anything away from Verlander and I’m not trying to change the voting I just think there should be a Most Valuable Pitcher and a Most Valuable Player. I think that will eliminate the talk about a pitcher being MVP.”
Now, let's remember: Leyland is an old-school guy. Also, these comments won't -- nor should they -- kill off the opinions of the supporters of Verlander-for-MVP. It's just interesting in that usually it seems like managers will argue for their guys. Obviously Leyland's not definitively arguing against Verlander's value to his ballclub, he just doesn't think pitchers should be able to win MVP and he's not alone.

Meanwhile, we still have more than four weeks left in the season.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com