Leyland on Tiger Talk

Hope everyone had a good holiday season while I was on break. It’s funny how the holidays can go by pretty quick when Detroit’s winter seems to drag on.

Anyway, Jim Leyland was on the Tiger Talk show on WXYT Monday night, where Dan Dickerson and Pat Caputo asked him about the bullpen. When asked about the importance of having a set closer going into spring training, Leyland was uncertain they’d have that.

“I don’t know that that’s going to happen. I don’t know that we can say that. I think [Fernando] Rodney, if I was going to assess him and give my own opinion, I think he has the potential to do it, but from what I’ve seen in the past, he’s probably a very good part-time closer. In other words, there’s some nights when he takes unhittable stuff out there with good control. There are some other nights when the control is not good enough. So I would say he’s a very good part-time closer, but probably not a real perfect closer at this particular time — consistent enough, maybe, is the right word.

“But I’m looking forward to Rodney this year because, whether people believe this or not, Rodney’s a free agent and I think he’s going to do everything he can. He knows this is a big year for him. So we should be able to get quite a bit out of Rodney this year. But to say that he’s going to be our definite closer, I couldn’t say that at this time.”

Leyland also reiterated his stance that he wants to get a look at the young relievers in camp, such as Ryan Perry and Cody Satterwhite, and try to learn from observing them. “I’m going to look at them,” Leyland said. “I’m going to keep an open mind.”

Asked about the moves so far, he said, “I think Dave did exactly what he thought he was going to have to do. I think he said he was going to have to be creative. I think he’s done that. I think he’s done a good job. We’re still in the mix for a couple things that would solidify our club even a little bit more. Exactly what that’s going to be, I don’t know. But I think Dave’s done a good job.”

On another relief note, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Monday that Joel Zumaya could start a throwing program in Lakeland within a week. What does that mean for Zumaya’s chances for starting the season three months from today? We’ll find out, but barring a setback, it should be somewhat encouraging.


First off, I don’t think Fernando Rodney could close a doggie door.
Hey everyone, this interview with JL is well worth listening to. Jim comes across a lot better when he’s relaxed and with no one coming “at” him. He does answer some questions we’ve had on this blog, such as how they plan to address the in-division record during spring training. His comments on Rodney being a good part-time closer don’t sound as laughable as they do in print. Personally, I don’t think Rodney could close a revolving door.
He did discuss Brandon Inge. One thing I’ve noticed on most discussion boards is people automatically pigeon hole Brandon as a .210 hitter. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. He’s also been a .287 hitter and a 27-homer guy.
A closer is needed. It may come down to one of the spare starters taking the job. The popular choice on this blog is Nate Robertson. I think Nate could do it if he buys into the role. I don’t think Rodney could close an automatic door.

I’m assuming Rodney is being considered as a part time closer due to the fact that we haven’t yet signed our full time closer. His impending free agency might mean he’ll pitch well enough to bring a decent prospect at the trade deadline. I would like to think DD isn’t crazy enough to give him a long term deal.

With the glut of unsigned arms out there, I’m still waiting for DD to make some low risk signings. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to bring in a few low cost veterans to try and create some competition and depth. At this time last year, we thought we had so much pitching that we could let Durbin go. The next thing you know, we’re sending in the clowns.

It would be very interesting to be able to read DD’s mind. He has not tackled the most glaring problem on the Tigers team > the bullpen. Does he really think he has enough arms to solve the problem? Where is Durbin, Byrdak, Zumaya, etc. when you really need them? He can’t count on rookies to suddenly develop. There are a lot of relievers still on the market. Will he make any moves? Illitch is not doing any of us any favors if he has frozen the payroll. What good will it do to pay the big bucks to Maggs, Sheff, M-Cab, etc to hit us into a lead only to have the bullpen give it away? 2009 won’t be so fine.

One of the areas that desperately needing addressing this winter was our bullpen. I still have nightmares when I think about how many games our team seemingly had won last season only to have the bullpen give it away.

I’m a Jim Leyland fan, so I do pray he is right about Rodney. However, I’m not holding my breath.

Jim, take a good long look at everyone in camp this year – our closer may be one of the kids.

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