Tag:Jim Leyland
Posted on: August 8, 2011 8:38 am

Pepper: McKeon supports replay

By Matt Snyder

The instant replay debate in baseball will likely never go away, so long as umpires continue to miss close calls (which is inevitable) and it's not expanded as much as it is in, say, football (which it never will be). While fans of all ages differ on the subject, one thing I think is generally true is that people against expanding replay are older and people for expanding replay are younger. There are obvious outliers, but the age divide makes sense.

Then again, baseball's oldest manager since Connie Mack -- who was born during the Civil War and was managing in 1950, by the way -- wants to expand it. Marlins' skipper Jack McKeon, 80, actually believes Major League Baseball should use instant replay more often. The trigger point was an umpire ruling Saturday night that a Mike Stanton catch was actually not a catch -- replays were pretty definitive that Stanton made the catch. Albert Pujols followed with a two-run home run and the Cardinals ended up winning 2-1.

"We all thought he caught it. Like I told the umpires, 'You've got four guys out here and four guys can't see it.' Maybe that's another reason why we should have instant replay," McKeon said (MLB.com). "No question it's the difference in the ballgame. You're not going to criticize the umpires, because it's a tough job, but on the other hand, we've got to get these calls right."

I agree 100 percent. I just don't understand why there's technology available and baseball refuses to use it to improve the game.

Heat sidelines umpire: Home-plate umpire Paul Nauert was unable to finish the Cubs-Reds game Sunday, as the heat knocked him out after 7 1/2 innings (MLB.com). I'm not sure what the answer is, but in these dog-days-of-summer day games, the ump with all the gear on behind the plate is the one who never gets a break. The catchers each get a chance to recharge their batteries in the dugout every half-inning. Meanwhile, the umpires just get a quick break between half-innings. Let's hope it doesn't take a death before we find some way to better protect the guy behind the dish.

Course reversal: A few days ago, the Angels announced they were going to honor Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter when the Yankees visited Anaheim later this season. Apparently, enough complaints arrived to change the minds of Angels' brass, because now they're saying there are "no plans" to honor Jeter. (OC Register)

Leyland responds to complaint: Jim Leyland received what he described as a "brutal" letter from a fan. So he reached out to the fan and had a good conversation, which even culminated with the fan and his family receiving tickets to a game from Leyland. It's a credit to what a good guy Leyland is, but the story is actually quite aggravating when you go deeper into it. The fan's complaints were that his kid didn't get to meet any players or run the bases, due to the circumstances of the day. In fairness, the fan did say he was "embarrassed" to accept the tickets from Leyland because he was rewarded for bad behavior. Yep. So, basically, the letter was exactly the type of thing he should be teaching his son to avoid doing, and he was rewarded for it. (Big League Stew)

Boras impact: Is Scott Boras the key to the Royals' possibly bright future? The super-agent is still negotiating for his client -- first-round draft pick Bubba Starling -- to sign with the Royals and holds a lot of other power with the Royals, and every team in the bigs for that matter. Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star has a long, detailed look at Boras. It's a highly-recommended read.

Memorable first homer: Well, more memorable than usual. A major-leaguer's first home run is always likely one of his fondest memories when he reflects back on his career. Trayvon Robinson of the Mariners, however, had one he certainly won't be forgetting any time soon ... because he stopped at second base. Robinson said he thought the ball bounced over the fence. He's likely to be subject to playful mockery from teammates for much of the near future for a gaffe like that, but it could obviously have been much worse. He still hit a home run. (MLB.com)

Zito's rehab start: Injured Giants starter Barry Zito will take his first rehab start Monday afternoon in San Jose and is expected to throw four or five innings (MLB.com). Take your time, Barry. It's doubtful the Giants will have an open rotation spot when you get back.

He's strong: Mark Reynolds might be a butcher with the glove and strikeout a ton, but, man, does he have power. Sunday, he uncorked the sixth-longest home run in the history of Camden Yards -- 450 feet. Darryl Strawberry hit one 465 feet in 1998 to top the list. (School of Roch)

Moneybags, meet Uber-Moneybags: It's no secret most big-league baseball players are pretty rich. Sunday, the Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz met a man who wipes the sweat off his brow with what they make. Carlos Slim was in the Red Sox locker room before their game. Slim is the richest man in the world, as he's worth a reported $64 billion. Yes, 64 billion dollars. (Boston.com)

It's just one baseball: A foul ball went into a trash can at Tropicana Field Saturday night, but that didn't stop a pair of fans for sifting through the trash to find it. While I think it would be cool to catch a ball at a game, I just don't understand the lengths people go to get one. I mean, watch the video on MLB.com. Two dudes dive in head first and even get into a minor fight. Really, guys? Really? (Big League Stew)

Happy Anniversary: On this day 23 years ago, Wrigley Field finally caught up with the rest of baseball and played a night game. It's pretty easy to remember, being 8/8/88 and all. Still worth a mention.

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 2:24 pm

Dombrowski, Leyland get decent review from owner

By Matt Snyder

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland weren't exactly put on the hot seat by owner Mike Ilitch Tuesday, but one message was pretty clear: They should probably win the up-for-grabs AL Central.

"I'd be extremely disappointed if we don't (make the playoffs)," Ilitch said (Detroit News), also saying he believed this was the best Tigers team -- "by far" -- since the one that made the 2006 World Series.

Ilitch also said that Dombrowski and Leyland have "done a fairly good job." (Detroit News)

On the surface, everything seems OK, but let's put this in perspective. What if your boss said you've done a fairly good job but would be extremely disappointed if something didn't happen before the end of the year. Personally, I'd make sure that thing got done and then some.

So it seems to me the Tigers better make the playoffs, or else Dombrowski and Leyland might be looking for a new job.

The Tigers are in first place in the AL Central, but they have the lowest winning percentage of any first place team in the majors. The Indians are only a game back, the White Sox sit just 3 1/2 back and the Twins are lingering within seven. With Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers have the best pitcher and hitter in the division. They also have All-Stars Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila and Jose Valverde. On paper, they should take the division.

Sure, Dombrowski and Leyland might keep their jobs if the Tigers miss the playoffs by a slim margin, but why take that chance? It's gotta be postseason or bust for them.

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Posted on: July 14, 2011 11:55 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:04 am

Tigers' Cabrera is fine after All-Star Game

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jose CarbreraIf you were awake during Tuesday's All-Star Game you may have heard Miguel Cabrera was pulled from the game with a mild oblique strain. How mild? Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Cabrera will be in the lineup Friday against the White Sox.

He wasn't so sure Tuesday when he heard Cabrera had left the game. At home, Leyland made a call "right away" to check on his slugger.

"That sends a red flag up, even when you're home relaxing," Leyland told Chris Iott of MLive.com. "That has a tendency to ruin your vacation in a hurry. I got a little nervous."

For good reason. Cabrera is hitting .311/.430/.549 with 18 home runs and 59 RBI this season and has finished in the top four of the MVP voting each of the last two seasons.

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 5:44 pm

Leyland: Tension between teams, umpires a problem

By Matt Snyder

Tuesday night, Tigers' manager -- and famed sparring partner of umpires everywhere -- Jim Leyland was ejected by umpire Joe West. It was Leyland's second ejection in the past nine games, the other was courtesy of Ed Rapuano (pictured right). West is no stranger to tossing guys out of games himself. Justin Verlander of the Tigers and Bobby Abreu of the Angels were also ejected during the game Tuesday.

Wednesday, Leyland told reporters that something needs to be done to remedy the league-wide problem of screaming matches between managers/players/coaches and the umpires.

"We have to work harder to eliminate some of the tension," Leyland said, via the Associated Press. "You can feel it. That's just not a good situation. That usually causes blowups."

Leyland did point out that MLB's new executive vice president of baseball operations, Joe Torre, is on the case and that it's the responsibility of all involved.

"I'm not criticizing anybody," Leyland said (via AP). "I'm making the point that we all need to work together to resolve this situation, because it's getting out of hand."

I think most people would agree that there are far too many confrontations between umpires and members of teams. It's funny that people who argue against expanding instant replay don't like delays in the game, however, the screaming matches take far longer than it would to just look at a replay and get the call correct. That might help to solve the problem, but Leyland also has a great point. There is far too much tension.

The players, coaches and managers could surely settle down and not be so quick to start screaming at umpires, but it has to be a two-way street. I've written about this before when I took West's crew in particular to task, but I'll reiterate: Baseball is the only major sport where you see the game officials yelling back at anyone. Nothing can be accomplished by responding to a yelling player or manager with equal ferocity. Just let them vent, should be the umpires' stance. The umpires can respond after the game once everyone is calmed down or do so during the game in a calm, quiet voice. Yelling back only escalates the situation. If the umpires kept quiet, quit antagonizing the team personnel and stayed relatively anonymous, we'd all be ready to start giving the respect they very much deserve for doing such a difficult and thankless job.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 27, 2011 11:07 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 12:07 am

Leyland goes off on umpire for botched call


By Evan Brunell

During Monday's game, Jim Leyland performed perhaps his most animated argument ever with umpires, earning his first ejection of the season.

In the seventh inning, Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill attempted to throw out Andy Dirks on a bunt. First-base umpire Ed Rapuano froze for several seconds before ruling Dirks safe, saying Adam Lind had left the bag to make the catch. That caused Blue Jays manager John Farrell to complain as replays clearly showed Dirks was out and Lind was on the bag. Rapuano spoke to home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, who confirmed that Dirks was out, so Rapuano changed his mind.

Jim Leyland wasn't happy about that, but Rapuano let him scream his heart out and remained patient even when Leyland asked Rapuano multiple times why the umpire was "fornicating" (except it was a different f-word) him. But Leyland finally got the thumb when he decided to re-enact Rapuano's initial, delayed safe call followed by calling Dirks out. And Leyland was only getting started, continuing to holler for a few minutes and giving Marquez a piece of his mind.

It wasn't the call at first that drew Leyland's ire, though. "It was more the appeal at first base," starter Max Scherzer, who was in the dugout, told MLB.com. "He just hadn't seen that call before, where he appealed to home plate. I think that's what he was upset about."

All due respect to Leyland, but Rapuano's actions should be applauded. Although Rapuano appeared to be in perfect position to make the call, it was pretty clear that he was not sure what the right call was. In that situation, he found another umpire who could confirm the correct call and then changed his own call. That's all you want from umpires -- to make the right call. (Got that, Joe West?)

Check out the video of Leyland's ejection below.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 15, 2011 11:22 am

Tigers may play C Avila at third in NL parks

By Evan Brunell

AvilaManager Jim Leyland isn't pleased about the fact he will have to remove one of his best hitters from the lineup when interleague play begins. Miguel Cabrera is entrenched at first base, and Alex Avila has been the primary catcher behind the dish -- but Detroit can't remove Victor Martinez from the lineup. That's caused Leyland to get a little creative in his thinking.

“I’m contemplating playing Alex a game at third," Leyland told the Detroit Free Press. "I had him quietly take some grounders [at third] yesterday. It’s just a thought I’m having to get his and Victor’s bat in there. I’m trying to be a little creative. It’s not a major story.

“I’m trying to be creative because it’s six in a row. I hate to lose those bats. I’m not saying I’m even going to do it. I’m just thinking. I’m wracking my brain so I can have those bats in there."

Even the Tigers were taken aback at Avila's progression, as he is currently hitting .296/.355/.545 with nine home runs and 12 doubles in 216 plate appearances. That's two more homers and doubles than he had last season in 333 PA. With Avila such an important part of the offense and what looks to be a fight for the division all year, it's understandable why Leyland is trying to find ways to put Avila in the lineup.

“There are a lot of catches to it," Leyland noted. "If you play Alex at third and then you want to take him out for defense in the seventh inning, then you’re naked at catcher.

“There are a whole lot of things that go on. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m willing to live with the consequences,’ and you’ve got enough guts to do it, or you don’t. I’m not sure.”

The Tigers head out to Colorado for a weekend series before heading to Dodger Stadium. After an off-day, they will return home next Friday to host the Diamondbacks.

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Posted on: June 10, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 5:20 pm

On Deck: 1st game and 5,000th game

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike MoustakasThe Moose has landed: Before the season, many argued about who was the better Royals prospect: Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas. Hosmer's been pretty impressive since being called up (.309/.349/.485 with five home runs in 32 games), so Moustakas has a bit to live up to. Moustakas was hitting .287/.347/.498 at Triple-A Omaha this season with 10 home runs and will be given a chance to play third base every day. He's making his debut about 50 miles from his home in Northridge, Calif., so that will be a nice perk for the No. 2 pick of the 2007 MLB Draft. Royals at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET (Watch live scoring)

Carlos ZambranoPut up or shut up: Carlos Zambrano hasn't pitched since saying the Cubs are "embarrassing" and a "Triple-A team." Well, the Cubs are on a modest two-game winning streak, and it's time for Zambrano to help out the cause against the Phillies. However, it's not the easiest matchup for the Cubs, not just because of the Phillies as a team but because Roy Halladay is on the mound for Philadelphia. That said, Halladay has never beaten the Cubs in three outings. Cubs at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch live scoring)

Tony La Russa5,000th game: Tony La Russa will manage the 5,000th game of his career Friday night, making him just the second manager to ever be at the helm for that many games. (He joins Connie Mack, who managed 7,755 games.) To put it in perspective, the active manager with the second-most games managed is Jim Leyland with 3,075 going into Friday night. Funny thing, though, most of us think of Leyland as one of the older managers around, but he's actually younger (by more than two months) than La Russa. La Russa's Cardinals face off against Ron Roenicke, who will be managing his 64th career game. Cardinals at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET (Watch live scoring)

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Posted on: June 6, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 10:35 am

Pepper: No baseball in November

Can Zack Greinke continue to lead the Brewers? What is going on with Cliff Lee? How important is Josh Hamilton to the Rangers? Scott Miller joins Lauren Shehadi with the answers.

By Evan Brunell

: As baseball tries to expand the postseason to one additional Wild Card series, the question has always been how that can be pulled off without pushing the postseason into November, which both fans and players dislike. Angels manager Mike Scioscia feels the postseason can be limited to just October and accommodate an expansion without eating into the 162-game season.

Scioscia, who is part of a special committee for on-field matters and has input into the expansion of the playoffs, feels that by tightening up travel time and playing the occasional doubleheader, an extra series can be fitted in easily. In regards to travel, Scioscia points to his own team's upcoming trip from L.A. to Seattle, New York, Florida and back to Los Angeles as inefficient because of two off days during the trip.

"I don't know what kindergartner figured that one out, but I think maybe we can move to first grade and get that a little better organized," Scioscia said. "The bottom line is we need to be more efficient with travel."

Scioscia believes teams should play in the division for the bulk of April, July and September, which will cut down on travel, as well as schedule the occasional double-header. If baseball can trim the postseason by a few days as well, the World Series would be complete by the time Halloween rolls around.

"We can't have baseball played in November," Scioscia said. "I don't think the Pilgrims set it up that way." (Los Angeles Times)

: Cubs manager Mike Quade admitted after Albert Pujols' 12th inning walk-off home run on Saturday that he needs to do a better job communicating with his pitcher and catcher on what to do in these type of situations. Clearly, he's got some more work to do as Pujols repeated his walk-off home run heroics in the 10th inning Sunday. (MLB.com)

: The Phillies won Sunday's game 7-3, but that doesn't mask what was a missed opportunity to score an extra run for Philadelphia. Through no fault of the team, Domonic Brown's single hit the umpire at second base and was immediately ruled a dead ball. There were runners on first and third, but Ryan Howard, on third, was not allowed to advance. The bases were loaded for Wilson Valdez, who grounded into an inning-ending double play. Just overall a weird play and a weird result -- you'd think Howard would be able to score on that play. (MLB.com)

: Jason Marquis was ejected from the game Sunday after plunking Justin Upton for the fourth time in the four-game series. Both Marquis and manager Jim Riggleman were adamant that the HBP was not intentional after two Nationals got hit in the inning previous. You can believe that, as the game was currently 1-0 and Upton represented the go-ahead run on base. (MLB.com)

: Touted Nationals prospect Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch on the left knee in the first inning, and had to leave the game after needing to hobble to the dugout. Good news, though: It appears to be just a bone bruise, so he should be back in the lineup before long. (Washington Post)

ZIMMERMAN REHABBING: In that same game in which Harper was struck by a pitch, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman began his comeback trail by going 2-for-2 with a walk. Zim had an ab tear way back on April 9 and is only just getting back into the fold. It's unclear when Zimmerman will return to Washington, but mid-June looks like a good bet. (MLB.com)

VERLANDER THE BEST? Jim Leyland's been around, so he's got plenty of first-hand experience on which pitcher has been the best to ever pitch for Leyland. The long-time skipper says Verlander has the best stuff of any pitcher he's seen without question, although he still calls Doug Drabek the best pitcher, as Verlander is still learning how to pitch. (MLB.com)

: Mike Minor has made two spot starts for the Braves due to Brandon Beachy's injury, but was shipped back to Triple-A as the club did not need a fifth starter for a while. Minor showed Atlanta he should be considered for the next spot start after taking a perfect game into the seventh and finishing up with a one-hitter through eight. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

TIME TO WAIT: Many in the game seemed to feel as if Brett Lawrie would be called up to Toronto last Friday. That changed when he was hit by a pitch, and that bruise has landed him on the seven-day DL although it was backdated to the point where he will only miss two games. Once Lawrie's pain subsides, he's expected to make his major-league debut. (MLB.com)

HITTING HINDERED: Luke Scott's torn labrum is affecting his hitting, he finally admitted on Sunday. Scott is hitting just .224 this year with six home runs and received a cortisone shot in the hopes that clears up the pain. For now, he's still avoiding any talk about surgery. (MASN)

BELTRAN BRUISED: Carlos Beltran has had a strong season so far, crushing a league-leading 19 doubles and playing in 57 of a possible 59 games. On Sunday, he had to leave the game with a bruise after fouling a ball off his right leg, but is considered day-to-day. (New York Times)

BACKSTOP HEALING: Nick Hundley bashed a home run in his rehab start on Sunday, proving his strained oblique has healed nicely. If he comes through his rehab assignment with no setbacks, he could be back in San Diego by Wednesday. (MLB.com)

MENTAL BREAKS: Jason Bay (New York Times) and Alex Rios (MLB.com) are both receiving mental breaks as both players are scuffling. Rios has been letting his frustrating seep out, so manager Ozzie Guillen feels as if Rios could benefit from a few days off. Bay, who has struggled mightily, will be back in the lineup when the team plays again Tuesday.

BATTING AROUND: Curious how many teams have batted around in the order during the first inning without recording an out? Well, the last time that happened was in 2006 when the Indians terrorized K.C. for seven runs before registering their first out, needing 10 hitters to do so. (Baseball Reference)

NEW JOB? Ozzie Guillen's on the hot seat in Chicago, so his job mixing drinks for a charity event could prove a harbinger of his future job. OK, not really. (White Sox Twitter)

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