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Tag:Jim Leyland
Posted on: February 23, 2012 11:22 pm
 

Will La Russa return to baseball as a GM?

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Just a few months back, Tony La Russa retired.

Now he's thinking about his next job.

La Russa's visit to the Tigers spring training camp this week gave him a chance to spend time with close friend Jim Leyland, the Tigers manager. But La Russa planned the trip just as much so he could learn from Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers general manager.

His next job, the 67-year-old La Russa figures, could be as a GM.

"I might get a shot," La Russa said Thursday.

If that shot comes, La Russa wants to be prepared. Thursday, when Dombrowski came off the field after the Tigers' workout, La Russa headed to the Tiger GM's office to talk.

La Russa and Dombrowski go way back together, back to when La Russa was the White Sox manager in the 1980s, when Dombrowski worked in the White Sox's front office in his first job in baseball.

La Russa said he also plans to talk to Reds GM Walt Jocketty, who he knows well from their time together with the Cardinals. But La Russa said that out of respect to the Cardinals, who play in the same division as the Reds, he won't be helping out the Reds this spring.

With the Tigers in the American League, there's no such conflict here. But La Russa's visit was based as much on allowing him to learn as it was on anything he could do for the Tigers.

"If I get a shot [as a GM], I want to be prepared," he said.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 11:35 am
 

Leyland on La Russa: 'Probably best of all time'

Tony La Russa goes out on top.

On top of the baseball world in 2011, because his Cardinals won the World Series. On top of the list of modern-era managers, with only Connie Mack (who retired in 1950) and John McGraw (who retired in 1932) ahead of him in total wins.

On top . . .

"He's probably the best of all-time," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Monday morning, after La Russa announced his retirement. "I think you could make an argument that he's the best."

La Russa went from the White Sox to the A's to the Cardinals, and he was successful at all three stops. He won a World Series with the A's, and he won two with the Cardinals.

Along the way, he and Leyland became the closest of friends. They managed against each other in the minor leagues. La Russa hired Leyland as his third-base coach with the White Sox. And La Russa's Cardinals beat Leyland's Tigers in the 2006 World Series.

They nearly met again this year, but Leyland's Tigers lost to the Rangers in the American League Championship Series. So Leyland watched from home as the Cardinals won.

"You talk about capping off a brilliant career," Leyland said.

Yes, Tony La Russa went out on top.
Posted on: October 8, 2011 7:46 pm
 

Leyland on watching Cardinals: 'I was a wreck'

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tony La Russa said he was more nervous watching the Tigers' Game 5 than his own.

Jim Leyland understands.

"I was a wreck," the Tigers manager said Saturday, about watching good friend La Russa's Cardinals in Game 5 Friday night against the Phillies. "I mean, it was 1-0. A walk and a home run, and that's it."

Leyland and La Russa have been close for decades, since La Russa chose Leyland to be his third-base coach with the White Sox in 1982. When Leyland took time off from managing after leaving the Rockies at the end of the 1999 season, he went to work for the Cardinals.

They talk frequently, and they pull hard for each other's team.

They met in the 2006 World Series, with La Russa's Cardinals coming out on top. Neither has been back to the World Series since, but now both are one series win away from returning.

The matchup isn't one that either of them looks forward to. It would be easier on both if they made it in separate years, because they know when they meet that one of them has to lose.

This week, though, there are no conflicts. You can be sure La Russa is pulling hard for the Tigers against the Rangers.

And you can be equally sure that Leyland wants the Cardinals to beat the Brewers.


Posted on: September 30, 2011 11:49 pm
 

Could rain help Tigers beat Yanks again?

NEW YORK -- Yankees and Tigers in the playoffs, and rain in the Bronx.

Last time, it helped the Tigers. In fact, in 2006, the Tigers were convinced that a Game 2 rainout in the Bronx turned the series in their favor.

This time, they're not so sure.

"That was different," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Friday night. "We'd already lost a game."

It was different. But it's possible to see this rainout as helping the Tigers, too.

The biggest effect of Friday's postponement, which came after 1 1/2 innings had been played with the score 1-1, is that aces Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia will most likely pitch just one more time each in the series. Both are expected to start Monday, and with Game 5 scheduled for Thursday, neither could come back for it, barring a lot more rain.

"With this team, it lines up well," Verlander contended Friday. "We have four starters ready to go."

The Yankees had planned to use just three starters in the series, with Sabathia pitching Game 4 and Ivan Nova coming back in Game 5. With the rain Friday, manager Joe Girardi said he would use Nova in the continuation of Game 1 on Saturday, with Freddy Garcia starting Game 2, now on Sunday.

Girardi didn't announce his rotation beyond that, but with games now scheduled on four consecutive days, it almost certainly means the Yankees will now use four starters. That likely means a start for A.J. Burnett.

In that case, the matchups for the rest of the series would be Nova and Doug Fister in the resumption of Game 1 Saturday, Garcia and Max Scherzer in Game 2 Sunday, Sabathia and Verlander in Game 3 Monday in Detroit, Burnett and Rick Porcello in Game 4 Tuesday, and Nova and Fister in Game 5.

First, baseball needs to get the next two games in, with rain possible both Saturday and Sunday in New York. Baseball officials were optimistic, but they had also been optimistic that Friday's game could be played.

Instead, rain began in the bottom of the first, and got heavier in the top of the second.

"I couldn't see anything," said Tiger catcher Alex Avila, who struck out against Sabathia in the second.

"I was just hoping he'd throw a ball," said Ryan Raburn, who took strike three. "He's tough enough to hit when it isn't raining."

At that point, officials called for the tarp, and eventually the game was called. Under a rule instituted after the 2008 World Series fiasco in Philadelphia, the game is picked up from that point, rather than re-started.

"Hopefully Doug [Fister] comes in and finishes the no-hitter," quipped Verlander, who gave up a run but not a hit in the first inning.

Verlander said he'd be comfortable pitching Sunday, but that even then, he would get only one start in the series, since he wouldn't come back on short rest (in Game 5).

"I think short rest after [Friday] might be asking too much," he said. "Fortunately, I have a manager who looks not only at the present but the future, too."

Verlander remembers 2006, because he pitched Game 2, which was played on a Thursday afternoon after originally being scheduled for Wednesday night. The Tigers believed that the Yankees were given more information quicker than they were, and that Yankee players were on the way home before the Tigers were told that the game had been called.

"I think that kind of rubbed us the wrong way," Verlander said. "I was out there warming up [on the Wednesday night], and I was the only one out there. This is a little different situation.

"This isn't what either side wanted."

In 2006, the Tigers used the rainout, and the hint of disrespect, as something of a rallying cry. Friday night, they felt that they'd been treated fairly by everyone but Mother Nature.

"This will be fine for us," Verlander said.

But maybe not as fine as in 2006.

Posted on: September 14, 2011 8:35 pm
 

When Tigers turned around, Pirates kept losing

You know that amazing string of Pirates losing seasons, the one that officially reached 19 on Wednesday?

Well, before Jim Leyland showed up in town, the Tigers basically had the Pirates matched.

Through 2005, the year before Leyland took over as the Tigers' manager, the Tigers had lost for 12 years in a row. At that point, the Pirates had 13 straight losing seasons -- and Leyland was their manager the last time they won, in 1992.

The Tigers have had a winning record in five of their six years under Leyland. Their current 87-62 record is second-best in the American League behind the Yankees, and their current 12-game winning streak is the club's longest in 77 years.

And in Pittsburgh, the losing continues.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 8, 2011 12:26 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 12:50 pm
 

Tigers extend Leyland, Dombrowski

With the trade deadline behind us, August is the month to speculate on managers and general managers who could lose their jobs after the season.

Cross Detroit off the list.

The Tigers extended the contracts of manager Jim Leyland and GM Dave Dombrowski on Monday, giving the 66-year-old Leyland a contract for 2012 and signing Dombrowski to a new four-year deal, through 2015. Both previously had contracts that expired at the end of the season, and owner Mike Ilitch had hinted (but never actually said) that he expected this team to win and could hold either or both accountable if it didn't.

The Tigers are 61-53, and hold a four-game lead over the Indians in the American League Central.

Dombrowski came to the Tigers as club president after the 2001 season, and took over as general manager when Randy Smith was fired six games into the 2002 season. He hired Leyland 3 1/2 later, and the two took the Tigers to the World Series in 2006.

Leyland and Dombrowski won a World Series together, with the Marlins in 1997.

Leyland is 485-440 in his 5 1/2 years with the Tigers, after taking over a team that had gone 13 years without a winning record.

But the Tigers have also spent money in the last few years, and the 82-year-old Ilitch has let it be known that he expects results.

Leyland has preferred to work under one-year deals, saying in the past that he doesn't know how long he wants to manage.

The Tigers also announced that they have extended the contracts of Dombrowski's top assistants: Al Avila, John Westhoff, Scott Reid and David Chadd.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 20, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 9:30 pm
 

Is this the year Tigers win in the second half?

After the Tigers traded for Wilson Betemit Wednesday afternoon, general manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters in Detroit what we already knew: He's trying hard to add a starting pitcher.

The Tigers might have as much motivation as any team shopping on this July's trade market. Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland both have contracts that run out at the end of the year, with no guarantee that either will return if the Tigers don't win. And the Tigers are in a tight race in the very winnable American League Central; they moved half a game ahead of the Indians when Cleveland lost to the Twins on Wednesday afternoon.

To win the division, the Tigers will likely need to do something they haven't done in more than a decade -- win more games than they lose in the second half of the season.

The Tigers haven't had a winning second half since 2000, when Phil Garner was the manager, Randy Smith was the general manager and Juan Gonzalez was the cleanup hitter. They've had just one winning second half since 1991, when Sparky Anderson was the manager and Cecil Fielder was the cleanup hitter.

One reason -- at least a small reason -- is that most of their midseason trades have not worked out.

In 2009, Jarrod Washburn went 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA, and Aubrey Huff hit .189 with just two home runs. In 2008, Kyle Farnsworth had a 6.75 ERA and three blown saves.

Even in 2006, when the Tigers went to the World Series, career .300 hitter Sean Casey hit just .245 after the Tigers acquired him from the Pirates.

The 2006 Tigers went 36-38 after the All-Star break, allowing the Twins to catch them for the AL Central title but making the playoffs as a wild-card team.

Overall, since Garner's 2000 Tigers went 41-37 after the break, the Tigers' overall second-half record is 301-444, a .404 winning percentage that translates to a 65-97 record over a 162-game season.

The Tigers went into Wednesday with a 2-2 record since the break this year.

Only two franchises in baseball have gone longer than the Tigers without posting a winning record after the All-Star break. Both the Royals and the Nationals/Expos have streaks that date back to 1996.



For more trade deadline news, click here.


Posted on: June 25, 2011 9:12 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 9:24 pm
 

For managers, it's still an old man's game

With Davey Johnson taking over the Nationals on Monday, baseball will have as many managers over 60 as under 50.

Yes, despite the retirement last year of Bobby Cox (who is 70), Joe Torre (also 70) and Lou Piniella (67), managing is still an old man's game.

"I think Jack McKeon said it pretty good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Why penalize experience?"

McKeon just returned to manage the Marlins, on an interim basis, at age 80. Johnson, back in a major-league dugout for the first time since 2000, is 68.

The 66-year-old Leyland, who began the season as baseball's third-oldest manager behind Charlie Manuel (67) and Tony La Russa (66), is now just the fifth-oldest.

Dusty Baker of the Reds (62) and Terry Collins of the Mets (62) make it seven managers who have passed 60.

There are also seven who have yet to turn 50, with Cleveland's Manny Acta the youngest, at 42.


 
 
 
 
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