Leyland on McClendon: There’s no mixed emotions

Jim Leyland stayed out of the Tigers’ hiring process for his replacement, as he said he would. All he said on his way out at his press conference last month was that he felt like Lloyd McClendon was ready to manage again.

McClendon didn’t get the chance to manage in Detroit. His opportunity in Seattle seems no less satisfying for Leyland.

“Oh, I’m thrilled. There’s no mixed emotions,” Leyland said Wednesday evening in a phone conversation, having just returned from the Tigers organizational meetings. “It’s a great opportunity for him with a lot of big arms out there. I think they have a great chance to get good quick.”

Short of McClendon getting a chance in Detroit, the result was about as well as Leyland could have hoped.

While Leyland talked only once with Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski over the course of their hiring process, and that time only at the end, he didn’t talk much more with McClendon. They chatted twice by his count, though he has been in touch more since the Mariners made their hire.

“I’ve been through that process,” Leyland said. “It’s hard to stay calm during that process because you’re on pins and needles. A lot of times, these things take time.”

While Leyland was finding out about Ausmus’ hiring and driving to Detroit for meetings, McClendon was interviewing for a second time in Seattle. He found out about the M’s job soon after McClendon did.

“Things really worked out great,” he said. “Gene’s back in Detroit [as Ausmus' bench coach]. Mac got a manager’s job. The Tigers got an outstanding guy. I’m happy. You just hope that the other guys all land on their feet, but it really worked out good. I think Dave made a really good hiring and Brad made a very good hiring, and Mac’s managing.”

Leyland, meanwhile, is consulting for now. The Tigers’ newest special assistant was part of their organizational meetings for three days, which gave him his first chance to talk with Ausmus since he got the job.

“We had several quick conversations,” Leyland said, “and it was really good. I just left it like, ‘Look, Brad, I’m available anytime. If you have any question, feel free to call me anytime.’ I really enjoyed it. I was really impressed with him. When we left today, he said he’d be calling me.”

54 Comments

From the Seattle Times:

“I hear people say all the time, ‘It’s my way or the highway,’ ’’ McClendon, 54, said in a phone interview after landing the job. “But in baseball, there really is only one way to do things and that’s the right way. It’s the right way to go about your business, the right way to play the game. There is a right way to handle yourself when you’re a major-league baseball player, and I try to instill that in all my players. You take care of business and you respect the game.’’
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“Obviously, I consider myself a guy who is capable of leading young men to a common purpose,’’ McClendon said. “I often tell my players that we’re like a family. Not a real family, but the family they’re going to be around for a big period of time every day. And like a family, you have to look out for one another.
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“And so, that’s the type of camaraderie and the bond that I try to create on the teams that I manage.’’

More from the Times, quoting Leyland:
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So, why was Ausmus on the podium in Detroit last week and not McClendon?
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“I think it’s a legitimate question,’’ Leyland said. “I’ll tell you exactly what I know happened. Ten days ago, I think Lloyd McClendon was going to be the manager of the Tigers, unless someone totally knocked their socks off.
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“Dave told me he would be very comfortable with Lloyd as manager. …Obviously, Brad Ausmus knocked their socks off. It’s as plain and simple as that. I think if you asked Dave if he would have been comfortable with Lloyd as his manager, the answer would be an adamant yes.”
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“If you ask me if I thought Lloyd would be the next manager of the Tigers, yes, I did,’’ Leyland said.
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“All the growing pains, you calm down,’’ Leyland said. “He’s going to fight for his team, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that he’s mellowed; but over the years, as you sit back and think, you learn from past experiences. That’s another reason his maturity as a manager is going to show up. He knows what he did wrong and what he did right.”

I like Earl Weaver´s style:
“A manager should stay as far away as possible from his players. I don’t know if I said ten words to Frank Robinson while he played for me.”

I understand the logic, but that doesn’t work nowadays. Stay too far away, and you end up like Luis Pujols asking reporters where Randall Simon’s clubhouse locker is after being on the job almost all season.

my interpretation of this is that Robinson’s game didn’t need to be coached. not unlike Cabrera. i’m in the process of reading Weaver’s autobiography…Baltimore traded Robinson to Dodgers one season before DH was introduced…in exchange for several young players including, of all people, Doyle Alexander.

as a side note, Weaver does mention in his book that Norm Cash admitted to using a corked bat throughout his career.

If he didn’t say 10 words to Frank Robinson the whole time Frank was with the team, he may as well have been a house plant potted next to the bats in the dugout. Inspiring.

I understand Weaver’s intended use of hyperbole El Tigre. Just couldn’t resist the temptation for “a little” humor (no use of hyperbole):-) I do agree with Jason though.

My 10 words as a young boy would have been. “Hello Mr. Robinson sir. May I please have your autograph?”

I would have said koo koo ka choo Mr. Robinson and gotten knocked into next week.

I understand it in one hand as defense of the hands off approach advocated this day, specially with veterans. But also, we are professionals doing a job and each one knows his part. No need to be comrades or family. Familiarity breeds contempt.

It makes you wonder , if coaches are useless ( Weaver also said something about that) why they carry a dozen?
The last “Family” won a WS ( against Weaver) but did not end well
I guess Im really old school.

Skip’s first interview with 97.1 The Ticket:

“Hopefully we’re aggressive instead of always sitting back for a three-run homer,” Ausmus said Wednesday on Stoney and Bill. “I don’t think you need speed. You can run the bases aggressively and force the defense to make the play without being a burner, so to speak, on the bases. I’m not talking strictly about stealing bases. I’m talking about taking the extra base or reacting to a ball in the dirt and moving up 90 feet. There’s a lot of things you can do to force the defense to make the play on you.

“Sometimes it won’t work in your favor, but I think overall, over the course of six months, with that frame of mind, I think it’s helpful for those stretches where you aren’t getting three-run homers,” Ausmus added.

While Ausmus is someone who respects sabermetrics and feels there is a place for the numbers, he knows instinct still plays into situations, and he plans to implement both aspects. While he probably will not rely on statistics too heavily in deciding who plays, he might use the numbers in some situations.

“I don’t think I’ll do it too often making the lineups, especially the heart of the lineup,” Ausmus said. “Maybe more towards the bottom of the lineup or in a pinch-hit situation … I don’t live and die by the numbers. They’re still human beings with personalities and emotions and insecurities, and I think that plays into it also.

“Sometimes you have to trust your gut and say, ‘Hey, this guy loves the big situation and he’s due,’” Ausmus added. “But I will also look at the numbers.”

As for bunting, which some sabermetrically-minded individuals believe is just giving up an out, Ausmus has an open mind.

“The game dictates it,” Ausmus said. “There’s certainly a place for bunting in the game. I don’t know that I want to watch Miguel Cabrera bunt somebody over, but there’s a place for it. There are times where bunting might be the best option to get the go-ahead run or tying run, depending on where you’re playing. Then there are times where you’re giving away an out. There’s some guys who actually have a better chance of getting a base hit than actually getting a bunt down.”

courtesy of Ashley Dunkak at cbslocalsports

Brad has already said: he has to be himself. I can’t imagine a manager not interacting with the players, as long as there is trust and honesty.

“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio”……………

When you’ve got to choose – Every way you look at this you lose.

What Brad saying is when Miguel is healthy he knows how to take the extra base. More players need to be reminded of the situation. That is the managers job. If the defense makes the perfect throw then kudos to them. Is it April 2nd yet? Hey weatherman, they say an inch of snow in GR tonight!

grand rapids? Nawww, try my hometown of Holland where I think you’ll find just about a 0.8 inches had fallen by morning. Time to break out the wooden boots I always say.

“Got a beat up glove, a home made bat, and a brand new pair of shoes” “Put me in coach”

Upon reading this 97.1 interview, it seems that Brad only has to throw in a few “like I said”s and he sounds just like Jim.
There are only so many ways to manage a baseball team, and they are dictated by your personnel.

that’s why i enjoyed the interview! Now can we PLEASE have him grow a white mustache?

I think the guy is going to be good for the team. Sounds like he has already identified a problem. Anticipation on the base paths is crucial. How many times have we seen a runner on 1st and 3rd and a ball in the dirt kick off to the left of the catcher and our runner stand and watch the event anchored at 1st base. Next pitch? Ground ball double play!
I’ve seen runners on 2nd that will watch a ball kick off to the right and well, watch.
Miguel uses instincts on the base paths. Other than him, Hunter and Infante to a degree. AJ has terrible instincts on the bases.

With Leyland gone it is almost a lead pipe cinch Don Kelly will not be offered a contract. Ditto with Phil Coke.
The bench for Detroit next year will be a complete change-over. And it needs to be.
Other than Pena, the writing was on the wall.
I think Pena added more to the bench than 75-80 points over Avila. He had heart, enthusiasm, and team-mate written all over him. Be interesting to see where he ends up and how he plays 20 pound lighter.

if i were king, Pena and Kelly would have stayed on the bench and 2E and Ramon replaced with better ball players. Ramon was a better ballplayer than 2E, but still. Coke would be gone.

The two BIGGEST questions for Spring Training will be ( pun intended) the size of Miggy & Biggy.
I can’ think of a bigger albatross in MLB right now than Prince Fielder. He impacts the lineup and he impacts the ability of the GM in improving it.

he’s taken over for ARod then

Dan you might be forgetting about this guy also: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/pujolal01.shtml#contracts
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look at that nightmare of a situation — its like looking at a car-train accident

Heyman:
Managers whose starters made the most starts of 120+ pitches in 2013: Jim Leyland 9, Mike Matheny 6, Mike Scioscia 6 (all by CJ Wilson)

Stark

Dan I found another one!!! Roy Halladay the past two years has made 40M and started 38 games, pitched 218.1 innings of hot steamy garbage! 5.15ERA, 1.2HR/9, .742OPS against.
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Put ole Roy down with Uncle Albert and A Rod in the list of players that make me happy to have prince fielder.

I said jut after the trade,It was a wrong signing. Miguel will end injured because 200 pounds players are not fit to play 3b. And down the road, Cabrera and Scherzer will be gone.
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As Dave said then they needed a 2b a, a 3b and a LF and hired another 1B and moved the 1b for 3b. Or as I added then hired a DH and moved him to 1b and the 1b to 3b
Fielder is fat like Howard he will get even worse and soon.
Halladay gave the Phillies 2 great season. Cy Young and runner up. And a perfect game in postseason. The contract was signed by the Jays not them and the problem was an injury . Two season of the best pitcher in MLB and half of the salary of the first year paid by Jays.
Fileder is not injured and was happily married last year and with the Brewers when was unable to deliver during postseason

I remember you saying that about the Fielder signing, El Tigre.

It’s nice to see someone happy about Fielder!
The guy, IMHO, is a loose bolt in a gear-box. He changes everything in terms of player composition.

preachin to the choir man

If you haven’t seen it, real good story here about just retired Bill Brown. I see that the term “traveling secretary” has been changed to “Director of Travel.” From my former life, I always thought of them as “Tour Managers.”

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131108/SPORTS0104/311080093/1129/rss15

Cafardo:
“Don’t believe for a minute that the Tigers won’t re-sign Max Scherzer, who can be a free agent after next season, or that they’re not going to enhance the team, as we’ve read in certain circles.”

http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/11/10/monitoring-baseball-meetings/8gNuNfkHk9L46xuJ0lzaeL/story.html

Also:”Clark is a superb outfield coach and great addition, but he didn’t work out so well in Houston on the basepaths. That’s one area where the Tigers will have to cross their fingers”

[grumble] they need basepath practice and coaching tho

“Tigers have checked in on Ellsbury.” isn’t consistent with “tigers not wanting to spend”, right?

“…After the Astros made a series of sophomoric base running mistakes….”

Exactly, a 4A team and the GM blamed him

Hi Everybody: I don’t post very often becuse I rarely have comments to add to the wise thoughts posted by the regular contributors to this blog. I’ve been saving a few observations to offer before the hot stove heats up, in the hope of sparking some thoughful conversation. Here’s my first one: athletes performing on the highest level of many sports really function on the edge of maintaining control over what they are doing. That observation applies to sports as diverse as ski racing, NFL football, figure skating and MLB baseball. I think it particularly applies to baseball. Look at Max this year or Denny McClain in 1968-69. There were guys who were definitely at the top of their game, but they occasionally did not have “it” and played a game like they did not deserve to be in MLB. At the other end of the spectrum, you have Armando Gallaraga who was brilliant one night, but could never catch on as a consistent MLB pitcher. More to follow. AA Mark

Sorry about the truncated prior post. I guess there’s a limit on length.
To pick up where I left off: Or take hitters. We all know the adage that the hardest thing in sports is hitting a baseball with a bat. If batting averages were calculated the way basketball shooting or football passing percentages are (i.e., hits divided by swings taken), no one would bat above .100.
Pitchers battle for control every time they take the mound. If they pitched under control all of the time, they would get hammered. It’s similar for hitters. There would be a lot fewer extra base hits if batters did not swing aggressively. The best players are those who are capable of performing consistently on the edge of maintaining control.
We are privileged to have several players like that on the current Tiger team.
Comments?
AA Mark

Good to hear from you Ann Arbor!

Well….. the local football team has made following them pretty depressing, so thankfully, we always have Tiger baseball to fall back on.
AA Mark

I hear that Mark – I lost a lot of faith last week after falling to MSU. Lions are helping the mood however.
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Mark, do you feel that Prince might have simply find “it” next year and redeem himself?

#tigers have told teams they’re open to trading either scherzer or porcello — Heyman

Expected about Porcello. Scherzer? Surprised. He is a risky gamble. His violent delivery ,going into his 30. He is not a good extension candidate but with his agent , you dont expect a greater return than a compensatory draft pick. But if you are in winning now mode, you trade Porcello even if he could have his best season finally coming.
That the basis of McClendon ´s approach. Swing early. You dont want a good pitcher 0-1 on you and that strike could be the only hittable one a good pitcher will throw. A bad pitcher needs to look for home to take advantage in the count and you will sit on that pitch.
A pitcher is the one who makes batters swing at bad pitches.

The art of strategy , Nice guys always finish last and Pitching in a pinch. The three best baseball autobiography books and all have in common that the few Tigers players mentioned are casted in bad light.
I guess you realized who is JL role model. And the source for the momentum and chemistry quotes

IMO, Prince needs to do what Miggy did and lose some weight, to make himself more agile,as in able to field his position better and more able to hit with the pitch like Miggy and VMart do. Prince is a smart ball player who should be able to play at a level similar to Miggy (no one can consistently play at Miggy’s level). Also, our new manager should be willing to tinker with the line up when the key middle of the order guys are underperforming. I have the feeling that Mr Ausmus will be more willing to make those moves than the SOC.
The above moves by player and manager should optimize chances for success and will help the team. If the player does not buy into that kind of program, then we could be in for a long 7 more years.

thats a fair assessment. however i always thought JL was someone who had the cred to do whatever he wanted….but he didn’t – like he was afraid of prince or something. hopefully ausmus isn’t afraid of the big prince.

Wasn’t the big scuttlebutt last spring that Prince lost weight?

Don’t forget Ball Four, El Tigre. Rich and Illinoisfan will remember that one. It was written by Jim Bouton, a journeyman pitcher, when the Tigers were a first division club in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. I remember him calling the Tigers the “big boys” and mentioning the time that Al Kaline stole second on a pitcher who was disrespecting him.

Jim Bouton, who was already a favorite of mine despite pitching for the Yankees, wrote one of the most important books in the history of the game, IMO. He ripped away the sheen that baseball had operated under for all those decades, and brought the game to real life, at least for me. He paid for his honesty because MLB didn’t want the truth to get out. It’s still a good read here some 40 years later.

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