Jim Leyland stepping down as manager of the Tigers

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

After eight seasons with the team, Jim Leyland is walking away from the Tigers.
After eight seasons with the team, Jim Leyland is walking away from the Tigers. (USATSI)

Jim Leyland announced he is stepping down as manager of the Tigers during a news conference on Monday. He will take a "to be determined" position and remain with the team in some capacity.

"It's time. It's time to step down," said Leyland during the news conference. "The fuel was starting to get low ... I want to retire a Tiger. I'm just not in the dugout anymore."

Leyland, 68, told his players it was time for someone younger to step in and do the job at the end of the ALCS. GM Dave Dombrowski told Heyman it was "not the time" to discuss Leyland's future immediately following ALCS Game 6 on Saturday, but did say they would "sit down in the next day or two" to figure things out.

In eight seasons under Leyland, the Tigers went 700-597 (.541) with three division titles and two AL pennants (2006 and '12). Detroit thrice won 90-plus under his watch, including 95 wins during his first season in 2006. Leyland inherited a team that went 71-91 in 2005 and a dreadful 43-119 as recently as 2003.

Although the Tigers were eliminated from the postseason this week, the team is coming off three straight AL Central titles and three straight trips to the ALCS. With a star-laden roster and an owner (Mike Ilitch) who has shown he is very willing to spend big, the team is in excellent shape to remain in contention for the foreseeable future.

Leyland signed a one-year deal last offseason, so he isn't walking away in the middle of the contract. His future has become something of an annual topic, whether there were rumblings he may be fired whenever the team struggled or talk and he would call it a career and walk away in the offseason.

Before taking over the Tigers in 2006, Leyland managed the Pirates (1986-96), Marlins (1997-98) and Rockies (1999). He led the Marlins to the 1997 World Series title. Leyland's career managerial record is 1,769-1,728 (.506) and he been named his league's Manager of the Year three times (1990, '92, '06).

Tigers bench coach Gene Lamont has prior managerial experience with the White Sox and Pirates, and he seems to surface as a candidate for every managerial opening. He figures to at least receive consideration to replace Leyland.

The Tigers join the Nationals and Reds as contenders who will be looking for a manager this offseason. The Mariners and Cubs are also looking for a new skipper.

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