Leyland takes blame for one decision, defends another

The Tigers rallied in the seventh and eighth innings to pull out their third straight win overall and their eighth straight over the Twins, now back-to-back late-inning losers. In that light, it’s hard to second-guess too much.

But if Jim Leyland was doing it after the game, everyone else can, too.

“I should’ve brought [in Charlie] Furbush for [pitching to] Morneau,” Leyland lamented after the game. “That was dumb on my part. I thought Max [Scherzer] was fine. He was throwing the ball 95 that inning. But it was a little late in the game, [Morneau] hadn’t seen Furbush yet.

“I mean, it was set up perfect, and I blew it. It was my fault. Nobody’s fault but mine. And the guys picked me up tonight. That’s a good feeling. They picked the manager up. It was a bad decision.”

The main concern over inserting Furbush there was a pretty shrewd move by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire in mixing up his lineup. By putting Michael Cuddyer in the cleanup spot between Morneau and Jim Thome, Gardenhire avoided having two left-handed hitters in a row against a team that has three left-handed relievers. The Tigers have lefties in abundance, but they were a man down with closer Jose Valverde off.

Short-handed, Leyland didn’t want to go lefty-righty-lefty to get through that stretch, so he stuck with Scherzer. Conceivably, Scherzer could’ve pitched around Morneau with first base open and opted to face Cuddyer. Once he put Morneau in an 0-2 count, that wasn’t happening.

He was nowhere near the strike zone on his next three pitches as he tried to get Morneau to chase. Morneau didn’t swing until he got to a full count, and Scherzer left a fastball over the plate that was supposed to be down and in, where catcher Victor Martinez placed his mitt.

“I left it over the middle,” Scherzer said. “Obviously he’s a good enough hitter where he’s going to be able to hit it to the seats. That’s the frustrating part for me, knowing I had a shot to get out of that inning — especially when I was up 0-2 on him — and he ends up hitting a home run.”

Leyland finally went to Furbush to face Thome, whom he retired.

The other decision came way earlier, when he opted to put Ryan Raburn back in left field after telling him a few days earlier that he was the regular second baseman. While no one said the move caught Raburn by surprise, it was clear that he had focused most of his efforts on second base since this past weekend.

Once he stepped back into left field, he arguably looked more like a second baseman. An odd route to Danny Valencia’s second-inning double in the gap left Raburn chasing the ball towards the fence. An inning later, Matt Tolbert hit a fly ball that sailed over Raburn’s head once he broke in on it.

Leyland said Raburn would “probably” start back at second base on Saturday. But Leyland also came to his defense as an outfielder.

“I don’t know why he’s taking heat,” Leyland said. “The ball fooled him a little bit. The wind was blowing. The ball was hit a little better than he thought. The wind took it. It sailed on him and went over his head. He’s played good in left field this year.”

Why start Raburn in left and Brennan Boesch at DH? In that case, Leyland was looking ahead to the late innings. If he put Raburn in left field and Boesch at DH, he could shift Raburn back to second base late in the game, when he might use Andy Dirks as a pinch-hitter for Worth. Turns out that was wasn’t needed, and Don Kelly replaced Raburn for defensive purposes.

19 Comments

Leyland’s continued defense of Raburn is incomprehensible to many of us. To say that he has “played good in left field” either shows that Leyland isn’t paying attention or doesn’t give his team’s fans any credit at all for understanding the game. Add his shoddy defense to his .197 avg and it makes me wonder why I shell out close to $200 to take my family to a game when the people in charge don’t give me any credit for knowing the difference between major league baseball and something vastly inferior.

Excellent coverage of the game Jason.
Sure helps that we won but nice to see the SOC ‘open up’ the past few days.
Early on I was sure the Tigs were going to ruin their 3+ game streak for the past 20 games but the win kept the run going.

Nice win last night. I missed the inning with all the scoring of course, but caught most the 2nd half of the game. I must say I got very nervous when I saw Schlereth warming up. I am ok with him but not when the game is on the line like that, haven’t gotten totally comfortable with him yet. Loving Al and Charlie coming in like they did and Benoit made it interesting but got the job done.

Yikes, Twins are making many more mistakes than we are used to seeing.

The players picked up the manager, nice. I want to go to a few games this year but yeah it is expensive. I like watching the Whitecaps. How many fans called for Furbush? I would have brought in in to face Span. I could tell that Max was done. His team comes back with 6 runs. He did his job. Why does the SOC like Raburn so much? He is the one that should be sent down to get his confidence back. We sure need Magg’s bat! Go Tigers! –Dave

I notice Leyland being a little more forthcoming with explanations these days. Part of his negative perception by fans is that he talks down to the questioner, seemingly not realizing that the questioner is representing us fans. JL is a survivor if nothing else, and he’s noting the change in the winds.
On the Morneau AB, I thought of Furbush. I thought of Cuddyer followed by Thome, and thought Charlie could get Cuddyer. I will say that I wasn’t howling for Furbush, but would have welcomed the move. Scherzer has to keep from grooving one and this issue doesn’t get near as much attention postgame.
JL saying Raburn is a good outfielder was somewhat bizarre. Ryan isn’t as bad as he showed last night but he is in no way a good outfielder. How long since Raburn had taken any flyballs, two weeks? It was a nice little strategy if Worth had been PH for, but it seems to reinforce that JL doesn’t consider Santiago at all in his strategic thinking. All in all, that’s the worst move of the two discussed here. This goes along with my thinking that JL’s biggest drawback isn’t so much in-game decisions but decisions pertaining to personnel and lineups.
And before it gets brought up, yes, I did notice that we won the game. After Pittsburgh, there was a prevailing sentiment in some quarters that we shouldn’t question moves in games we won. That is, of course, ridiculous.

Come on Rich, no one said we shouldn’t question moves. That is why everyone is on this board. It is much nicer to question them after we win.
I actually like managers keeping starters in, especially your top guys (Scherzer, Verlander and I would add Porcello). The result wasn’t good last night for Max, but I do like living and dying with your strength (the starters).
As far as Raburn, I feel for the guy. Within a week of being told he is starting over again at 2B, he is in LF? The guy has shown he can hit (usually in the second half). But right now I think he is as confused as everyone on this board. I liked Peralta’s quote about Rayburn (“I thought he was an outfielder”)
How about this can of worms – when do we make Furbush a starter. He looks great. With Purcey doing well after 2 appearances and ABQ and Benoit coming around, is it time to use Phil Coke as trade bait?
Lastly, I think Inge has played better since his benching. Better at bats for sure.
GO TIGERS, LET’S SWEEP EM

I meant that there were some media comments here and there that kind of cast aspersions on the fans for complaining about the Porcello move when we had after all won that game. Sorry, should have been more clear.

Most people are confused about why Raburn isn’t at Toledo, not about which position he should play. Raburn has played LF for 3 years and has been the primary starter there this year. He could be excused for some rough play at 2B but not for his pathetic play yesterday.

Leyland’s excuses for Raburn are ridiculous. “The ball fooled him a little bit.” Yeah, and so has just about every other ball hit in his direction so far this year. “He’s played good in left field this year.” No, he hasn’t. He’s not an outfileder, and is barely an infielder. And if he’s played good in LF this year, why lift him late in the game for a defensive sub? The words and the actions don’t match up.
.
There must be more to Leyland’s love of Raburn and non-love of Santiago. I once heard Gates Brown tell a story about how Mayo Smith really didn’t like him (hated him is how Gates described it), and was always reluctant to play him. I wonder if Leyland is letting personal feelings for players cloud his judgement on what is best for the team.

I think that Leyland likes Santiago on a personal level, unlike your Gator Brown story. All I ever hear from Leyland is that Santiago will “wear down” and is not an everyday player. There is A LOT of disagreement about that in this forum, however I do not think it is a personal vendetta against Ramon? Maybe we can trade him back to Seattle, that is where his official fan club resides.

I totally agree there is more to the Raburn story than is being said. Santiago has shown that his bat dies with consistent play, so he is treated like a role player. How about this theory: Leyland is a good company man, and w/o a contract extension, so he is not going to complain about being told by DD to keep playing Raburn. DD remembers cutting another streaky power hitter, Carlos Pena, who went on to put up Cabrera numbers for the Rays. DD’s only choice w/Ryan is to cut him since nobody is going to trade for a guy that hits a few weeks every season and can’t field, therefore DD wants to play him regularly hoping he will get hot or at least hot enough to be traded. Alternatively, DD has a man-crush onRaburn and is keeping him in the lineup. Either way Jim is simply deflecting heat from his boss.

Raburn never was a good outfielder. He was a body out there with a potentially good bad and an outfielder’s arm but too inconsistent to ever be given enough time to change him into a silk purse.
I don’t think the long periods of being “lost” justify the hot periods that everyone expects to eventually happen. In my mind he should actually be traded.
I was not a huge fan of Coke last year. Yes he did OK but there were a few too many times where he let inherited runners do too much damage. However, I think he is well worth keeping now. I’m not entirely sold on him in the rotation especially if the young lefties and Turner need a chance to crack the rotation. He could really settle the bullpen down and give it the stability it needs. Furbush is not built for the pen and he will get figured out before too long. Not sure if this happens this year but Coke does seem more fired up and suited to life in the bullpen where he doesn’;t have to corral his energy for 4 days between starts.
We’re gonna have to live with Inge this year. No way do they have the audacity to try and sneak him by the fans next year. Great utility player, defensive replacement and clubhouse presence.
Too many good up and coming outfielders in the organization to try to convert Raburn. Concentrate on Wells, Dirks, Boesch and figure out where Clete Thomas fits in, in all this.
As to the extremely important issue of 2B, I feel it is incumbent on DD to come up with an intelligent solution here. He has confounded himself with trying to invent people there. Much like throwing enough you know what at the wall that some of it will stick. Guillen is not the answer either. although I am sure they are crossing their fingers that he will be, at least this year.
Scherzer has had trouble putting people away with 2 strikes. He might be better off going right after them, rather than trying to fool around with pitches off the corner. He certainly has the arm to do that.
Penny is a rental in my mind and if soemone wants him real bad and they are willing to solve some problems for us than by all means, package him up and let him go.
I like Wells, the bunt he laid down yesterday really impressed me. He is solid in the field, can run, has power and a quiet confidence. Dirks is a keeper from what I can see. Scrappy type with no parts of his game that compromise the “whole player”.
Another very critical area we need for us to click is Austin Jackson.
AJ is off his game. He is doubting himself and it shows even in the field and on the base paths. This guy really needs some serious mentoring from someone not named Lloyd.
I think it easy for us fans to blame coaches (remember Chuck Hernandez?) but the reality is that Lloyd has guys on this team that have been around a while with glaring holes in their swing and has not been able to straighten them out.
We haven’t heard much about Cab blowing the stop sign yesterday. I am not surprised. But, this is somewhat of a concern. You can’t have that happening regularly on your team without reprecssions. It may simply be a ‘one-off”, and I hope it is, but stars deliberately ignoring instructins are not a positive contribution. This does not mean that I trust Lamont out thre either but you do have to have respect for the system in order for it to work.
Wonder what JL will do with 2B today?

Good point about Miggy running through the stop sign, just like Santiago did last month.
When you say Furbush is not built for the pen, are you saying he needs to be a starter?

I’m pretty sure that’s the second time Cabrera has blown by Lamont. I have a suspicion that some of these guys think ol’ Gene is too conservative and are losing respect for him. The Martinez not going on the flyball at Fenway comes to mind. And I wish I knew why Jackson wasn’t scampering home on those wild pitches. There may be thinking on the coaching staff about who’s coming up to bat when making these decisions, but our club hasn’t hit well enough to take that into consideration. I say go for it. Easy for me to say when I don’t pay the consequences but it’s how I always did it.

Moving on wild pitches and passed balls is a read by the base runner not the coach. If you wait for the coach to tell you to go it is too late. It looked like Jackson did not get a read on the ball that slowly rolled halfway up the line.

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Leyland’s logic to leave in Scherzer is sound IF Morneau is given a pass, even if it is an ‘unintentional’ intentional walk, to an open first base. The 0-2 count is a nice gift but that shouldn’t change the strategy since Morneau had already gone yard on Scherzer earlier in the game.

Putting Raburn in LF, however, is inexcusable. His play resulted in 2 Twins runs that should not have scored. Leyland’s explanation is worse than Raburn’s play, if that is possible. He could have started Worth in LF and still made his substitution with Raburn at 2B. The more likely explanation is that he expected plenty of action at 2B & RF with all the Twin leftys and assumed Raburn would be safe in LF (also why he had Boesch @ DH). Raburn did only see 2 fly balls all night and mid-played both of them. Why Raburn is up here at all when he can’t field & is hitting under .100 for May is beyond me. His apologists should stop looking for excuses and realize he has been given the consistant playing time they clamored for (2x the AB from last year) and his offense is worse than his biggest critics could have imagined. I can only conclude that Dave is feeling burned by cutting Carlos Pena and waiting for Raburn’s breakout season, if only he gets more playing time.

Lastly, I wonder if Leyland realizes the damage he does to certain player’s morale when he constantly defends Raburn’s inept play while criticizing their defense.

Hold up, Bob. When did Santiago ever get consistent play in the last seven years? He’s a lot bigger than he was when he first came up and has improved tremendously. That “he wears down thing” is a Dombrowski/Leyland invention. It can’t be proven because it was never tried.

As you know, since you use a 7 year timeframe, the answer is 2003. However, he exhibited the same tendencies last year. I am a Santiago fan, but he has not done enough to break away from this stereotype.

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