Guillen and the Tigers lineup

Jason Beck /

Carlos Guillen said a lot about his own situation, both last week and over the weekend. What separated his comments over the weekend, beyond his stance that he didn’t want to play left field because of how the situation played out last year, was his frustration over Leyland’s lineup tinkering. Those comments weren’t just about himself, but the team in general.

It painted a picture of frustration over how much criticism hitters received for the Tigers’ struggles. To listen to Guillen tell it, the amount of lineup tinkering made it difficult for any hitter to get into a groove.

“Before he points the finger at the offense, he’d better look in the mirror and see what he did,” Guillen said Sunday. “I don’t want to make an excuse, but nobody in the big leagues feels comfortable when you play [lineups] that way. It’s not fun to play like that.”

Those are remarks that go beyond Guillen’s own situation and towards the team as a whole.

According to, manager Jim Leyland used 126 different batting orders this year, not including pitchers during Interleague Play. The most common order was used just seven times. That’s actually more stable than last year, when Detroit used 131 different orders, none more than five times. But it’s still more lineups than in 2007 or 2006. The Tigers used 107 orders in ’07, one of them 25 times.

Guillen said it’s difficult for an offense to be consistent when someone gets three hits one night and is sitting the next. Leyland countered that maybe some guys were productive precisely because they didn’t play day in and day out. He also indicated it was a shared responsibility for the organization for not getting it done, and that both he and GM Dave Dombrowski had accepted their blame.

By the way, Guillen confirmed Tuesday he had talked with Leyland on Monday, and that they basically reached an understanding about his situation. It isn’t exactly bliss, but it’s something he’s accepting now.


This is a tough one for me, Carlos has always been one of my favorites on this team, I was so pumped up when he returned and was producing. I pull for him as much as I can. I don’t agree with him though using the reporters to get his point across, but I understand his frustration. Even though it was warranted, he went from being the captain of the infield at short to then being put into different spots. He did it, probably hoping that move would make him solid. No big leaguer wants to admit that their not as good in the field or the plate as they used to be.

That said, he has had a rough couple of seasons with injuries and I still think he can be an asset for the Tigers when healthy, although I don’t see him throwing out players at home like Raburn can. Of course this is my wishful thinking and me thinking with my heart and not my head. Now, if he works himself in the offseason to make himself a better left fielder, he can come into the spring showing what he has got. But do players who are advanced in their career like him want to have to work that hard in the offseason to re-create themselves?

I do find it interesting though, he is probably speaking for the team on all the instability on the line ups, and sitting a hot player. The players themselves have a better pulse on the team feelings than the manager I would presume.

I am guessing next season I’ll be watching Carlos on another team.

No doubt the Renteria trade was a complete failure, that being said I still don’t think that Carlos is playing in the infield any longer, his skills were diminishing there, he proved he couldn’t play 3rd base, 1st to me the jury was still out on that one. The only other place on the infield was 2nd, he wasn’t going there?? And lets face it Carlos was productive for a while when he came back but I think once the riggers of the daily play set in he regressed quite a bit.
I as some of you know don’t have hate of Jim Leyland that some of you do. Do I agree with everything he does well, no, but I think he did the best with what he had to work with this year. The hitting was horribly inconsistent. And just when you thought someone was getting out of their funk (ie Granderson, Carlos, Polanco, Magglio, Thomas, Laird, heck all of them) as quickly as they came out they would go right back. Just imagine if Polanco or Magglio had come out of their ruts even one month earlier??? That is why I think that there as a problem with the lineups heck you never knew who was going to do their job that day. Brandon Inge was carrying this team for a long time early in the season. And when his homers dried up well so did some of the dramatic late inning wins. Thames was useless. All of you who always wanted to see Thames play on a regular basis well early in the season you got your wish and saw that he couldn’t handle it, and then when he went back to his whole tried and true roll he still couldn’t do it.
But to me when it comes down to it there weren’t many good years at the plate on this team. Even Cabrera stopped producing with runners in scoring position late on. Jackson’s last 3 or 4 outings were poor. Washburn, Dontrelle well Yuk how many games did they cost us?? I’ll bet it was at least one game well that would of had us in the playoffs??? It is the players who play, the managers can’t go out there and do it for them. Think about that.

I’m not going to defend Leyland, but I am going to defend Dombrowski. The Renteria trade was a bad move, extending Dontrelle before seeing him pitch was a bad move, etc. The facts remain, though:
– The Tigers did not improve during the nine or so years that Mr. I owned them before DD came on board.
– The Tigers improved dramatically since he came on (2001). In addition to the WS appearance and a couple of other seasons where we were in it right up until the end, we now have very good starting pitching, pitching depth in the minors and some up-and-coming position players as well.
– My impression is that players don’t particularly want to come and play in Detroit. To get/keep talent, the Tigers have to either pay more, pay longer, or both. Why is Magglio getting $18M next year? Because that’s the only way they could get him to sign with Detroit. Would we be where we are if we hadn’t gotten him? Probably not. I think this may already be improving, but until a real winning tradition is established, the Tigers will not be a favored destination and will have to overpay for talent that doesn’t come out of their system.
Next season will be challenging. The starting pitching is going to be excellent with Bonderman coming back strong and making you all regret criticizing his extension…😉 The bullpen is always a question, but Perry is going to be ready before too long. Hopefully Zumaya will calm down and not throw so hard he breaks his shoulder again. I don’t know what to do about Carlos. He might be able to platoon at 2nd with Sizemore, but I think he’s going to have to get used to playing in LF until he gets hurt again.
On Leyland, I enjoy him but the lineups frustrate me and I sometimes think he’s just being curmudgeonly because he doesn’t know what else to do. I honestly don’t know how much influence the manager has over the team. I think the Tigers’ biggest problem has been lack of patience at the plate, and I don’t think you can solve that in the offseason. They need to work on that from the ground up. I guess we should’ve signed Abreu last year so that he could have the effect on the Tigers that he supposedly had on the Angels.
Thanks for listening…

DD is the reason WHY we compete these days….. c’mon ppl! Everyone is a critic because they wish they had his job and could do it better. period.

About carlos, 3 things:

a) no more carlos in LF…..he can’t do it, we can’t have that bad of an OF to HAVE to play someone as bad as maggs in our big LF
b) Carlos should be in the lineup more often, but as a RF or DH ONLY. And for that matter, try to keep him in one part of the lineup.
c) SHUT UP CARLOS! Ninguna más conversación!! Ninguna más conversación!!

If we had won the division, all of this probably wouldn’t have been discussed. Whether or not you believe Carlos can play LF has nothing to do with what he is saying. Carlos may be perfectly capable of playing a respectable LF if he consistently plays LF. I believe Carlos believes, the same as I do, that the division may have been won, if Leland would not have kept tinkering with the lineup. The insane inserting of Thomas in the 3rd spot, while Maggs rides the pine. The constant and endless putting players in for defensive replacement. I don’t blame Carlos, no players want that especially when they are leading the division and the players have to sit and watch him mismanage his players. I don’t hate Leland. I just don’t think he has it in him to be a good manager any more. I think the players lost respect for him in ’07 and it just keeps getting worse.

Good one Rich, tell me all the good things that Leyland has done, you know, a pros and cons list. Which list is bigger.
I do not hate Leyland, I just think he can not handle today’s players. Phil Garner had a tough time with his Tiger team. Guillen, he has been a great player for Detroit but you can not play forever. I am glad he spoke up. I am also tired of all the trade talk. If……..What if Renteria hit .350 and Juirrjens era was 7.00? I like the draft and farm. Greg, hope you are still reading. My wife is a teacher(also Mother in law, Aunt, Uncle, Daughter), which means she is a coach or manager and not a player. Our HS band had a not so good color Guard. After my wife was coach, every one wanted to join. She was never a flag twirler but was in band years ago. Now after 10 years went and she is no longer coach, no one wants to go out for color guard. My point is, I think players want to come to Detroit. We have a great fan base. We love our baseball. We need a manager they want to play for and will make them a winner(can you say Tom Izzo). Go Tigers 2010! –Brown

This has certainly turned into a wide ranging discussion. I’ll put in some general responses while not being sure who I’m responding to.
Dombrowski: I think he did a good job building the team, then lately not so good with the contracts. Renteria aside, he usually makes smart trades, even if he’s not acquiring the stars that some people want. Examples are Laird and Everett and Jackson. I’m not calling for his head, but he needs to make a managerial change.
Guillen: I think Carlos can play nearly any position on the diamond if he works at it. That’s the key. He has outstanding baseball sense, but needs to work like everyone else. I’m not worried about his hitting if he’s healthy.
Hating Leyland: “hate” is too strong a term. I don’t hate anyone, with the exception of some long dead historical figures (and one that’s still alive). If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, I like Jim but he’s a bad manager for this team and this time. I want him to retire, partly for his own good.
This year’s offense: it’s too easy to blame it all on the hitters themselves. How do you explain that nearly everyone had bad years? Anyone who’s ever played the game knows that baseball is nearly all confidence. If a guy gets 3 or 4 hits one day, he needs to be kept in there to get that confidence going, which can lead to a hot streak. “Half of baseball is 90% mental.” That’s not as weird a statement as it sounds. A manager’s (or coach’s) job is to put his players into a position to succeed. We’ve seen very little of that from JL lately.
The payroll: our hands may be tied with the players, but not with the manager and coaching staff. It’s too bad DD found JL sleeping on the couch in the office that morning. He jumped the gun on that extension, and many of us thought so at the time.

i don’t think carlos can play our LF, well, everyday. BUT maybe working at it over the summer would bring his game up.

The problem with Carlos is that you couldn’t play him everyday as you suggest, because he couldn’t switch hit so therefor everytime in the last two months or so when they faced a lefty and had to sit. And I disagree it is and was the hitters. THEY did not do their jobs consistently non of them, not a single one even the much heralded Miguel Cabrera he started to tank at the end. Sure he was still hitting singles, but where was the power. We had a lot of guys hitting a lot of singles, a team that couldn’t run the bases and go from first to third. And it was a different guy everyday. So how the heck was he to know who was going to decide to show up that day. He went from history. Don’t get me wrong I don’t like every move he made, heck, but is sure easy to play Monday morning quarterback. He also sure made a few right moves, ie Huff pinch hitting against Tampa, Raburn pinch hitting and getting a homer against the Cubs to win. So if you want to blame him for the losses you need to give him credit for some of the wins. Sometimes it seems like some of you think that it has nothing to do with the players themselves, its all the manager.
And a lot of teams sit guys for defensive replacement at the end of games, Gardenhire has everyone states is one of the best takes out Kubel. Kubel doesn’t generally hit against lefties (I know he was on my fantasy team). Brent Gardner is put in as a defensive replacement for Johnny Damon? It isn’t that strange and as much as I love Carlos he isn’t a superior anything anymore, he is getting old and is hurt a lot the last few years.

I have never had a problem with any of DD’s offensive trades with Renteria and Sheff both resuming normal career seasons, given their age, after leaving Detroit. Renteria for whatever reason never settled in and didn’t put in the hard yards. Sheff’s injuries and mission impossible of making a go of full-time DH.
My only criticism of DD has been the Willis 3yr $29m Contract after he went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA in the NL.
DD and others point to the Twins going 17-4 on the home stretch. After going .552 up to the all-star break, the Tigs then went .50, continuing the second half fades that even the players will start to expect. As Jason noted, the team was falling apart that last week and only another JV uplifting start against Chisox kept them in it.
It is worth listing JL’s Detroit record:
Pre Break Post Break
2006 .670 .486
2007 .605 .474
2008 .500 .397
2009 .552 .500
At what stage is a shakeup warranted before this losing and fade mentality becomes entrenched. .
The Tigs were 52-33 (61.2%) in close games of <= 2 run results with 26-14 (65%) pre break and 26-19 (57.8%) post break. Lyon and Rodney proved their worth and kept the team from having another sub 500 year with the offense only good for 10th in batting average and also runs scored.
Carlos voicing player frustration about constantly being pulled and platooned no doubt was accentuated by seeing Inge and Curtis constantly playing despite Inge going .186/.245 post break (.160/.247 RISP) and Curtis going all season against lefties .183/.245 (.146/.192 RISP). The lack of a Plan B for Inge when he was diagnosed prior to the all-star was just plain inept management when options were there – Ramon, Raburn, Carlos and Huff.

I’m very familiar with those pre and post ASB numbers but when I see them laid out like that, it’s still startling. How can that happen every single year? There are only 12 players left from the 2006 club (48%) but this continues to happen even though the personnel has changed. If it doesn’t stem from the way the team is run, I’m open for theories on why it happens with such regularity.

By the way, and before we get any deeper into this, Jason you’ve done an excellent job covering this story. Real fine work. Much appreciated.

I should have known better than to keep reading during our long off season. This Jim Leyland thing is really stirring the nest. Good job Rich! I continue to take a neutral approach on Leyland(Some call it cowardly!); I prefer to call it diplomacy.
Just where does the buck fall on the manager of the team. An analogy if I may. As a teacher in an inner city school system, I have children who cannot read, have no math number sense, and will essentially be a cashier or trash truck employee if they choose to work. Their world is fed by a sense of entitlement, spawned by hundreds of thousands of federal tax dollars.
In the long run, Ron Clark himself could not teach these children the essential skills; he could teach them something, as I also can do. Yet I am held 100 percent accountable for my test scores.
JL does not swing a bat, throw a ball, or catch one off the fence. His world is run by baseball players who are fed by a sense of entitlement, spawned by millions of owner dollars. the worst of the worst can demand a mllion dollar contract nowadays. JL is a manager of contracts and egoes, far different from the manager of 25 years ago. Is he responsible for the shape our team is in? Rich and Dan say yes; I say that he is a captive of the system and a set roster of 25 players, each with the conception that they are hall of fame bound. Did I agree with all of the lineup changes? Not at all. But in the reality of things, if you compare the lineups of the Twins and the Tigers, the Tigers were even, or better at most starting positions. Catcher was vastly superior. Leadoff production was more efficient.
The Twinks were better defensively, and their pitchers just di not walk people.
My point in all of this rambling is that Gardenhire’s guys pretty much played to their potential; Delmon Young actually got hot at the end; Punto has always been pesky, but still .223. Without Crede, third base was basically neutral. It seemed that Morneau made more impact than Cabrera. Cudayer is a nice fit and Kuble had a really nice year. I contend that Gardy’s moves were easier for him because everyone was playing at or above level.
Now, look at the Marlboro man. From the get go, no one got off to a quick start except Inge, and Cabs. And Inge dies out, and Cabs only gets the big hit in one or two games. We continually listened to griping about Raburn playing too much and Thames not enough. We had to have Razor starting every day. We needed Clete, then we didn’t need Clete. Curtis lagged the whole year, except for power, and Polly/Maggs just didn’t get it going until August.
Inge taked because of bad knees, Carlos had no shoulder, and yet through it all, we stayed until the end.
I echo again that I didn’t agree with a lot of JL moves, but he still was managing a team whose superstars underperformed at the wrong time on the wrong day for the entire season.
So let’s hold Leyland accountable. Just think of the problem we would have had if Sheffield had been around.
Thank you for allowing me to say nothing. I have to prepare a Virgina Studies test for 63 fifth graders, of which 35 will fail. They have been given the info through reading, videos, powerpoints, map studies, and interactive notes. Yes, they will fail, but I wll be held accountable. And I don’t even smoke Marlboros.


Greg, if Leland feels the way you do about your job, he needs to resign. You sound burnt out.

Yeah, Greg, I don’t think that each of your underperforming students wants to be on the dole, if that is what you mean. Most people, black or white, rich or poor want an opportunity to make it. Before you blame them, look at an economic system that demands that they exist.

Greg, I think that you said what I have been trying to say for the last few days. You can only put so much of the blame on the manager. Nearly everyone on this team underperformed most of the season.
And I can’t believe that you guys are jumping on Greg like this and questioning his commitment to his job. Unless you do what he does and sees intimately these children, their lives and how this is a problem that really shows itself through generations. Well personal attacks are not cool.

That was definitely not a personal attack on Greg. He’s a great guy who contributes to wonderful conversations on this blog. I made the remark because I did work in an inner city school district for 30 years. I’m not questioning his commitment to his job, merely his attitude. Also, I don’t agree with his comparison about MLB players and children from dysfunctional and economically deprived homes. Leland comes from the same background I do: 52 kids in the first grade with one nun. Everyone could read. It was very, very strict. I know teachers can’t be that way anymore. I took Greg’s remarks as venting frustration and responded. There’s no personal attack there, skylant.

Well I am glad to know that isn’t how you meant it because that is sure what it sounded like to me!?!?!? By the way I come from a rural area, in which I went to a catholic grade school and a public junior high and high school. In many ways it was like an inner city minus the violence. But there was generation after generation of poor families who’s kids were not made to appreciate education. And generation after generation of families that were and still are welfare families. In fact the area that I grew up in was weird there were wealthy families and families that were very poor. I mean that there was a family that had dirt floors in their house. And I only know this because my mother was a county health nurse and had to visit homes of some of these families. She told us years later.

Without doing my homework I’m going to speculate that the reason we have such a startling difference in W/L from the first half to the second half is that we play the interleague schedule in the first half and we play division rivals in the second half.

The question becomes why do we do well with the interleague schedule and why do we suck so bad with division rivals? We have speculated alot on this blog about our divisional rivals but I think that, mentally, the Twins, Royals and White Sox are just in our heads. Plain and simple. They know us and we know them.

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