In Defense of Jim Leyland
Posted on August 12, 2010
The cacophony of cries to fire Jim Leyland during this lost Tigers season continues to amaze me. I just don’t understand what could possibly be gained by letting this manager go.
Before you send off that flaming comment to yours truly, hear me out.
Showing the door to Jim Leyland based on this season would’ve been like canning Alan Trammell after the 2003 disaster. What could Phil Garner or, heaven forbid, Luis Pujols have done with the roster Tram was saddled with that season?
Same goes for Leyland in 2010.
The club came into the season with considerable question marks at several positions and roles, including:
- Carlos Guillen‘s general health
- Austin Jackson‘s unproven status as a big-leaguer
- Gerald Laird‘s sudden offensive impotence
- Scott Sizemore‘s ability to hit at the major-league level
- Jeremy Bonderman‘s stamina and ability to bounce back
- Adam Everett and Ramon Santiago‘s collective shortcomings at the plate
- Alex Avila‘s inevitable growing pains
- Ryan Raburn‘s inconsistency
- Joel Zumaya‘s always-looming injury
- Zach Miner‘s injury
- Bobby Seay‘s injury
- Armando Galarraga‘s inconsistency
- Dontrelle Willis‘s tentative grip on his control
See a pattern here? And, when you add in Brennan Boesch‘s cooling off, the loss of Magglio Ordonez and, for a while, Brandon Inge, the fact the Tigers were as close to first place as they were in July is nothing short of a miracle.
Looking at all of this, what can be blamed on Jim Leyland?
Certainly we can all point to specific game-day lineups, in-game decisions and bullpen machinations — every manager is subject to those — but how can fans reasonably lay blame on Leyland when he, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, has to go into each game with the roster he has, not with the roster he wishes he had.
Buck Showalter, Bobby Valentine, Bob Brenly, Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, you name any manager — available or not — and there’s no chance they could do a better job with this team’s talent. None.
If there’s any blame to handed out this season, look in the direction of Dave Dombrowski, the architect of the roster. I’m not for firing him either because it takes a long time to correct nearly 15 years of losing, but if anyone in the Tigers organization should be feeling the heat these days it’s Double D.
Not Jim Leyland.
Okay, now you can tell me I’m nuts.