Highlights from Leyland at TigerFest

Jim Leyland spent a good amount of time at TigerFest trying to caution about expectations — it’s OK for fans to have them, he said more than once, but the team has to be cautious about allowing those expectations to affect them.

“Expectations are high, and they should be,” Leyland said. “We just have to make sure we don’t get caught up in that.”

In fact, he called it his second-biggest concern behind figuring out what he’s going to do to close out games.

“Don’t put any extra pressure on yourself because they expect us to win,” Leyland said. “Well, we expect to win, too, but it’s not that easy. Just don’t get caught up in all the hoopla. Just come ready to do your job each and every day, play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Jim Leyland talks with reporters at TigerFest

Jim Leyland talks with reporters at TigerFest

That, of course, led to another discussion on his philosophy, and some of the carryover from his reaction to fan criticism last year. Even after a deep playoff run seemingly vindicated him from the hot seat he seemingly spent all summer keeping warm, Leyland still seemed to remember some of the critiques. He brought up the topic of lineups when somebody asked him whether Torii Hunter will hit second, and about team speed and better, more aggressive baserunning.

“I get a kick out of everybody referring to me as old, old school,” Leyland said. “If you think old school is doing things right, then I’m old school. I’m proud of that. That’s not old school to me. If you do things right, that has nothing to do with old school. You do things right. You respect the game. You respect the fans. You keep them entertained. You do things the right way. It has nothing to do with being old, even though I am old. That’s just the way it is.”

Other notes from Leyland’s talk with reporters early Saturday afternoon:

  • He didn’t call the closer’s job a competition, saying again that he might tinker with Bruce Rondon and others sharing opportunities.
    “I’m not afraid to tinker with it. I’m not afraid to mix and match,” Leyland said. “You just have to be careful, because this is a real sensitive subject. We have guys that can close a game, but I’m not sure other than potentially Rondon whether we have guys that can potentially close every game. In other words, Cokey can save a game, Benoit can save a game, Dotel can save a game, but I’m not sure if any of those guys can hold up day after day, physically or mentally, and I think that you have to be careful with that. So if I have to mix and match, I’ll mix and match. I’m not afraid.”
  • Leyland indicated he might bring Victor Martinez back gradually in Spring Training to give him time to adjust to not seeing live pitching for more than a year.
  • Hitting on the discussion above, Leyland indicated that he probably won’t have that much more aggressive of a baserunning team, mainly because of the talent he had. In his explanation, he sounded a little like legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula and his ability to adapt to the talent he has. “Everybody thinks they need to be more aggressive,” Leyland said. “Well, we’re aggressive by hitting doubles and homers. If we had the 1959 Chicago White Sox, I’d run, I’d squeeze, I’d bunt, I’d do all those things. But we don’t have that type of team. And to me, smart managers take the talent that they have, and the manager adjusts to the player. You don’t ask a player to adjust to the manager. The manager adjusts to the type of team you have. I mean, that’s what smart managers do, I think.”
  • Leyland on his team’s potential to manufacture offense more often: “I think on the days when you run into a real nasty pitcher and you’re probably not hit a two- or three-run homer, then we might be able to manufacture a little bit more with this team than we have in the past. But we’re still not a big basestealing, hit-and-run team. We’re not that, because we’re going to end up opening bases for guys that we don’t want to open up bases for. They’re going to end up walking them.”

84 Comments

He is right about baserunning, but his lineups leave much to be desired.

“We’re not that, because we’re going to end up opening bases for guys that we don’t want to open up bases for. They’re going to end up walking them.”
. :-) They can’t walk everybody. It would be more runners for Prince and Victor to knock in. Use all your weapons and don’t worry about the opposition putting more of our men on base. This conversation keeps repeating itself.

well they do knock into hella double plays – so maybe he does have a point.

he as in rich

Yep…Last year’s GDP numbers from the big 3-Miggy 28, DY 20 and Prince 19.

On a different note, does anyone know what Duane Below has done this offseason? He looked AWFUL when he pitched for Toledo at the end of the year…..and it’s been established we need people to step up out of this group: Crosby, Below, Lobstein, Paulino and Thompson

That group has potential, but I would be surprised if any of them is ready to step up to the Varsity rotation and be effective.

As the point has been made time and again, a rotation injury is inevitable. Without a guy like Smyly or Porcello available things could really go sideways.

They can not walk them al but can walk the most dangerous. I stick to what I said last year :the struggle against LHP was caused by the possibility of walk Miguel to face Fielder who, of course, is weaker vs LHB.
You want Miguel to bat since he is the best hitter in MLB, you dont want him on base with a walk .
It wont happen but Jackson, Hunter, Miguel, Victor, Fielder vs LHP could be the solution. Victor vs LHP:302/.377/.479/.856 career. Fielder:262/.344/.456/.800 605

someone in the audience asked Brookens to compare Leyland to Sparky, since he’s worked with both of them. his reply was that Sparky was more of a “my way or the highway” type of manager, while Leyland “caters more to the player,” i.e. is more of a player’s manager. Brookens acknowledged that times have changed (probably referring to increased player salaries) affecting the manager-player relationship.
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wonder if the trade of Justin Upton from Kirk Gibson’s team is an echo of Sparky’s “my way or the highway” philosophy.

their differences seem reflected in how they handle the pitching staff. Sparky had that reputation as ‘Captain Hook’ while Leyland seems to allow the pitcher to have some say on the decision whether to leave him in there to work out of a jam.

i enjoyed the Leyland session with Mario, particularly the discussion about when he considers using the squeeze to score a runner from 3rd. interesting that he likes to do it with a slow runner on 3rd, one who wouldn’t usually score on a groundout or shallow-mid depth fly. doesn’t like to use it late and close when it’s expected, instead when it’s less expected to pad a 2 or more run lead.

One word – bunting. Everyone and I mean everyone needs to know how to bunt and there were too many times in his reign over the Tigers that hitters can’t deliver when a bunt is required. That is not good managing or organizational development.

Yeah, the bunting idea sounds good but the application is often lacking. You would probably be surprised at how many guys at the higher levels of play cannot bunt and/or hit to the opposite side to move a runner(s). Many managers consider makng guys who are ineffective at those skills just wasting their at bats. So… those players often just end up hitting the way that got them where they are.

Still doesn’t excuse an organization from treating that as an important part of the game. Tired of seeing runners stranded because Leyland chooses not to bunt when it’s needed. Even the bench players have trouble bunting and again that’s BS. So they don’t run and they don’t bunt. Makes it easier to manage against them don’t you think?

That is new, Sparky told to cubanvenezuelan sport journalist:that then, late 70´s, players were in charge ,in his words : “the dog no loner wag the tail, the tail is wagging the dog” and he as manager can no longer manage the old way

I have personally seen Towers in action. Some guys fit with his style ,but he turned me off.

I must add my contact with Towers is not from his tenure as a GM, but from when he was scouting director with the Padres.

The consensus among Detroit fans is that Gibson had a problem with Upton. But , what I have read it is different, the problem was Towers.He wants flashy players, the kind of players that fans like.
Gibson supported Upton even after the trade and he also said that he can relate to him since he know s the pressure that comes with high expectations since he was called the new Mickey Mantle by Sparky

it’s clear after yesterday, if it wasn’t before, that the TIgers have one of the most charismatic players in the league now with Torii Hunter. that charisma, however, didn’t make the Angels a winner last season. Leyland stressed that they acquired him for what he can do on the field, particularly his defense.

one other thing that was cleared up yesterday, I believe by Hunter, was the situation where Verlander had a no hitter vs Angels broken up by an Aybar bunt. After the inning was over, Verlander gestured from the dugout that he was going to hit Aybar in the back, but evidently it wasn’t about breaking up the no no. During that same inning, Aybar got in a rundown involving Verlander and ended up elbowing him (intentionally?) in the ribs. That’s what got Verlander hot.

Like the Lakeland weather in the upper right. Nice touch, Jason.

Thanks. I figured that would be better than a countdown to the first workout.

The Tigers were third in sacrifice bunts in the AL 36 tied with the Rangers. behind O´s 38 and Halos 47
Hit and run? twice he has ordered one with 2 on , no outs.A triple play and the other one worked because it was grounders pitcher

Twice during his tenure with the Tigers

I wonder what will become of Brennan Boesch. He seems to have so much potential. Who could forget how hard he was hitting the ball that first year and how hot he was for awhile? I am surprised that no one has ever thought him to be a candidate for 1st base. Not here, obviously, but I wonder if he could fulfil that role someday. For all the criticism he takes defensively I have always liked to watch his hustle out in the field. Also surprised that other teams aren’t making a little more noise about trading for him. If this guy ever finds his confidence he could be really good.

BB will play this season at age 28 and should be in his prime. Maybe his hand injury impeded his progress. In any event, BB had better produce or he will be considered a suspect , rather than a prospect.

Truthfully I think if there is something that is going to sink us this year (not counting any unforeseen injuries is this closer situation. Expecting a guy to close in the majors who has never closed ( or played) before to me is very scary and possibly foolish. I think we will miss Valverde or someone with experience.

There was a time not long ago when teams did not have “closers”. There are teams in the past couple of years that have gone with the so-called committee and did all right. Miss Valverde, I for one am glad to see him go and it appears that other teams are not that interested in his antics either.

GK… You often get it right. I hope you are wrong in this instance.

As excited as I am for spring training to start, there are alot of teams who have improved immensly. KC, ,Nationals, Jays, Baltimore, Dodgers. We are going to have our hands full

Not sure the Orioles are improved.

I appreciate Leyland’s honesty when it comes to this closer issue. He doesn’t know yet what he’s going to do and says so. I have little doubt that he would like an established vet in the role. He plays the hand he’s dealt, and Dombrowski has handed him a rookie closer. Did similar with Sizemore a few seasons ago, hope this one turns out differently. Buckle up Tiger fans, it could be a bumpy ride.

If nothing changes between now and then, Rondon will be THE man to watch come opening day. I did see him pitch last ST, but his numbers indicate a guy that’s wild but nearly unhittable. They’re not all one-run saves, so he may have some leeway some of the time. How many opposing hitters will take a walk before somebody just wants to hack? This has worked before, so we’ll see. I’m going to assume that management knows what it’s doing, or at least has a backup plan.
It will be interesting, to say the least.

always a good assumption ;) we don’t see these guys in the offseason or outside of the games

I understand the doubts about Rondon. But I dont get the fascination with Wilson as backup plan. There are better options available out there: Lyon, Capps, even KRod.
closer by committee has been hailed by the New School as a better option. It worked last year when Coke was used vs a heavily LH lineup( a roster that usually hit better vs LHP anyway) .

Bill James is predicting almost the same average for Peralta and Hunter. He could be right. Peralta´s Babip was unusually low and Hunter´s high. Both are expected to regress to the media and Hunter is 37 YO, so his decline could be nearing

No news about Scherzer? Could be they negotiating a two years deal ? Are the Tigers worried about his health?

No, a guy with two tommy johns to his name and not far enough removed from the actual surgery, not a good plan in my opinion.

Wilson that is.

the problem is he demands to be THE closer.

East coast Balco in Miami? Per MLB TV, based upon a report in the Miami Times. Some big names, don’t know if everyone has yet been outed yet.

Nelson Cruz just lost HOF chances lol. no wonder he was crank’n ‘em out against us in the ALCS last year.

Yeah, and Melky’s name came up again. Glad the Tigers didn’t sign him. He could be out of the game for awhile, depending on circumstances.

The positive part of the story is that some of these athletes are being caught. If you can’t make it go away entirely, you just keep fighting it.

good point, rich. Also Gio Gonzolez[sic] is on the list, along with alex rodrigez[sic]. Hopefully the organization didn’t let any cheaters in.

The south Florida location does cause a bit of consternation given where some of the Tigers call home.

Yep…..I was just listening to I believe a man to be the editor of the paper (on line) said these were the guys that they could 100% confirm….others the could not 100% confirm. Anybody above suspicion probably not, probably would have thought Gio would of been involved!

That’s wouldn’t have thought Gio would of been involved.

well if you thought last year was a rough one for DY batting 5th – you’d be incorrect. His OPS last year (708) was higher than average (679).
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His GDP was higher than average though….

MLB continues to pay lip service in their attempt to look like they are serious in addressing the drugs issue.
When the rewards on offer to players and their managers are so great, the penalties for getting caught likewise have to be equally huge, otherwise there will not be sufficient deterrent to players accustomed to being pampered and also manipulated.
Cheats (and for that matter their managers) are not fined or able to have their contracts rescinded. When being unlucky to get caught results in a 50 game ban slap on the wrists, you would think we are dealing with amateur high school players and not mega rich pro players.
Performance enhancing drugs have moved on from the brutishly crude steroid era and given the current circumstances, you have to wonder why a pro player wouldn’t be taking outside assistance.

Stark on twitter.”I agree. Voiding it unlikely RT @TJQuinnESPN: Really nothing Yanks can do about ARod contract. CBA very specific on punishing PED violations”

Rosenthal about Porcello:”Some teams, though, are concerned by Porcello’s low strikeout rate and struggles against left-handed hitters, particularly when he will earn $5.1 million this season in his first year of salary arbitration”

on the later, does that suggest his arbitration process generate salary is exceeding his worth (in the eyes of GMs)?

In Porcello´s case ,yes.He was a supertwo and signed a Major Leagues contract after being drafted then the high salary.
Compared with Scherzer or Fister he is overpriced . His salary in the FA would be around 12 MM according to the formula 40/60/80 in his case 20/40/60/80 for arbitration salaries .

He is not worth 5.1 MM: 4.55 career ERA 1.417 WHIP 94 ERA plus. No out pitch.
It is not only him: Boesch would have not not get 2 MM in the market had he been non tendered

I just watched MLB Network’s “75 best plays of the 2012 Postseason.” Being a little bored, I decided to tally up the ones involving the Tigers. Detroit was involved in 26 of the plays, but strangely enough, 20 of them went against the Tigers. We had 6 highlights and 20 lowlights. Seeing as we got to the WS, that seems rather odd. Make of it what you will. Or not. It’s a dull night.

The Tigers were the 5th worst defensive team to make the WS in recent years with a DRS:-46 by august.

For sake of accuracy:DRS: -33 by august/- 32 for the season( thanks to Infante)/ 6th worst to make the playoff.
Here is the source:

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/27527/is-tigers-defense-historically-awful

They had three good defender. Jackson( injured and a kind of off year on D) , Infante( half season , lost one full step on arriving with the Tigers) and Worth ( rusting in the bench) so nothing surprising there.
Great starting pitching with a below 3 ERA in the final weeks and a 3-4 killer combo was enough

if the tigers do not get a short stop with better range than Peralta, look for them to not finish in play offs this year, considering their slowness on base running and their slowness on defense they should be ranked about 3rd in their respective division.

except the tigers pitching staff doesn’t tend to use the defense (rather they strike people out). So their weaknesses on defense are minimized. Offense COULD be really good this year.

They just don’t have much choice, do they? At least we have a better 2nd baseman and TH in right field. That will help somewhat. Some people complain Austin plays in too much, but maybe there’s a reason for it. I hope we see an improved infield defense this year.

The Tigers are projected for a combined 40 plus WAR meaning around 90-92 W

John Sickels ranks the tigers as THE WORST farm system in the league. btw.

Only Castellanos 21 and Rondon 92 are among MLB top 100 prospects. Link by Beck in the right side

I hate reading about the scandals going on in Florida right now. Hope none of our Tgers are involved. My son just loves Ray Lewis and now he’s implicated. Why do they even frequent those places? Can’t get it at the GNC?

I sure hope so too, Kathy. I’m now very glad we didn’t sign Gio.
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A bit off topic, but I heard the HawkSox want a left handed bat. Thinking outside the box I’d take DAYAN VICIEDO for Boesch, heck i’d even throw in Santiago if they gave us a pitching prospect.

Retweeted by Beck:”in tempering the need for a LH bat, Hahn mentioned Sox don’t play Detroit until 7/9. Sox could find out if they’re buyer or seller by then”

Surprised to see Garcia no on that list.

which tigers live/lived or are from the south flordia area, anyway? I know omar and anibal probably…..

Miggy and Victor and Avila?

Maybe Peralta?

Verlander, Martinez, Miggy trains there sometmes. Peralta’s hometown is Cleveland.

Negative comments about the defense of the Tigers rage on. But teams are not all built the same. Prolific defense and piching can be overrated as opposed to adeqate defense and pitching coupled with offense. Take the Mariners for example, big losers that they were last season. They probably had the best defensive SS inthe AL, the fourth best team ERA and were tied for first in FPCT.

I’m of the opinion that Peralta’s play would improve if he had an increased sense of urgency. Now that I mention it, one could say that about the team in general.

That and 15 pounds.

What grade do the Tigers get for their offseason moves?
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Maybe I just missed it on the interviews that I heard at Tigerfest, but I’d like to hear more from the players about playing to win Ilitch a championship.

Giants: DRS:-7 18th won. Tigers 25th -32, lost in 4 games
They need to improve their defense.
They are better in RF and 2B . The rest the same or worse. They are not getting younger

The defense did not let the Tigers down against the Giants. The offense went in the toilet.

In the 4 game set, each team had 1 error. However, the Giants had 16 runs on 32 hits, whereas the Tigers scored only 6 runs on 20 hits. The offense was a big elephant sitting in the middlle of the room.

Well, one more precise dynamic change and we become a significantly better ball team with the addition of speedy, leadoff, good fielding shortstop.
Are they easy to find? NO, and yes. What do you pay? What do you give up? How much do you risk with a young guy? Or do we just Hope & Dream once again?

Our Detroit Tigers finished in the middle of the pack in MLB in 2012 as a defensive club based on errors committed and fielding percentage. Let’s face it when we started last season we had one player, Austin Jackson, of the seven fielders behind our pitchers with good range. Was the lack of range addressed? Of course it was. Eventually Brennan Boesch, Ryan Raburn , Ramon Santiago, and Delmon Young were replaced by Quentin Berry, Andy Dirks, Avisail Garcia, and Omar Infante. We improved our defensive range in LF, RF, and at 2B. This offseason we added Torii Hunter, one of the most decorated defensive players in all of MLB, to our outfield. If we have an outfield with Dirks in left, Jackson in center, and Hunter in right, how many doubles, triples, and occasionally homers will they take away from our opponents?? Let’s find out. If we have five righthanded starters, Omar will be extremely busy at second base. He is ready for the challenge as he has the best range in our infield.

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