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People are calling for Jim Leyland to be fired? Um, OK

Jun 5, 2012, 10:02 AM EDT

Jim Leyland AP

When you give a talk radio dude a column, it’s always a safe bet to assume that he’s going to use the column to advocate for things that would make his talk radio job more fun and easy. To that end I give you Bill Simonson:

I think, if the Tigers fall to 8-10 games out of first place before the end of June, Leyland and his staff should be fired. It would be a move with no risk involved. He has no contract beyond this season. If he was as highly thought of by management as some Leyland lovers think, then why wouldn’t he have years left on a deal? You can’t fire a team, but showing Leyland the door might be the move this franchise needs.

I know managers get fired simply for losing all the time, but my view of things is that, among the handful of reasons to fire a manager, a poor won-loss record, standing alone, is the dumbest reason.

You fire a manager if he makes a lot of dumb decisions. You fire a manager if he bucks the authority of the front office in a way that prevents the team from carrying out the organization’s plans. You fire a manager if he loses the confidence and respect of the players or his authority over them is otherwise undermined in such a way so as to make his continued leadership untenable. You fire a manager if the composition of the roster radically changes and you suddenly have an awful fit in terms of temperament (i.e. the old vet-friendly manager suddenly finds himself in a rebuild. You fire a manager when a new owner and/or GM comes on board and the team wants to reset.

Now, a lot of those things cause poor records, and the subsequent firing may be chalked up to the poor record.  But if none of the above things are present and the team is simply losing, firing the skipper is kind of pointless.  He’s the same guy the GM had confidence in before the season. He still has the clubhouse under control.  All that has changed is that his players are underperforming. Absent a clear link between things the manager has done and that losing, firing him is a pointless gesture.

Leyland has done none of those things. His team is underachieving. That’s on the players. Some of the players he’s had to work with don’t really belong on a major league roster. That’s on the GM.  There is absolutely nothing which suggests to me that firing Leyland would turn the Tigers around because there is nothing that suggests to me that Leyland has done much if anything to make this team lose.

Jim Leyland has managed in the big leagues for 21 seasons. He didn’t suddenly forget how to do it.  And getting rid of him isn’t going to suddenly make the Tigers a better team.

  1. mattintoledo - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    People thought the emotion of Maggs’ retirement ceremony got to Leyland Sunday when he was crying. He was actually crying because Maggs could, right now, hit better than his right fielder or DH.

  2. caseyo4 - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    You can question the direction of the clubhouse under his leadership, and you can question his in-game management to a good degree (and Tiger fans do). Many think the Tigers won the Central in 2011 in spite of Leyland. That said, this team’s ego is far too fragile to come back from a managerial change this season. They cried over Brandon Inge being released for god sakes. If you want to have a chance to turn things around, you have to stick with Leyland…

  3. fusionix7 - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Simonson is an idiot with a grating and irritating voice. While Leyland doesn’t know how to manage a pitching staff, and apparently is adverse to stats regarding pitching matchups, this season is a product of over-hype. The Tigers had a bunch of players who had career years last year (Avila, Peralta, Valverde…) and simply aren’t matching that productivity.

    The biggest missing piece is Victor Martinez. When interviewed last year Avila and Peralta, and a few other Tigers, credited Martinez with helping them with their swing. If anyone gets canned Lloyd McClendon should be it.

  4. ajcardsfan - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    I’m not a Tiger’s fan and even I laugh at the idea. Leyland maybe hasn’t done the best job, but he’s certainly brought the franchise back to relevancy, if you want to fire somebody, go back in time and fire Randy Smith

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:40 AM

      The Tigers were probably overrated at the beginning of the year. Look at this list of their hitters*, Cabrera is starting to heat up and Fielder is hitting well, but what about the rest of the team? Jackson won’t stay the teams best hitter, Berry’s .500 BABIP will fall off in a big way, leaving only Dirks and Avila as above average based on wRC+.

      Meanwhile you have guys like Peralta (92), Young (89) and Boesch (63) getting significant playing time, and my favorite, Ryan Rayburn with a 10(!) wRC+.

      Verlander is his typical overpowering self, Valverde has fallen back to Earth, and they aren’t getting much help from the rest of the starting staff.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:41 AM

        http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0&team=6&rost=0&age=0&players=0&sort=16,d

  5. mybrunoblog - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    Anyone foolish enough to advocate firing Leyland at this point is either one of the following. Either looking for some attention or a complete moron who knows very little about baseball managing.

    • bearsrulepackdrool - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      You miss the point where he said “I think, if the Tigers fall to 8-10 games out of first place before the end of June,” NOT NOW.

  6. florida76 - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    Bill Simonson doesn’t know much about baseball, or any sports for that matter. He’s an endless self promoter, who calls himself “Huge” on the radio. True story: Simonson was promoting himself on the air, and then took a caller, who promptly asked Simonson to please stop talking about himself.

  7. ningenito78 - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    It would be stupid to fire Leyland. This Detroit team is going to go on a midsummer run to the playoffs. They need to relax.

  8. scoregasmic - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Clearly you haven’t been watching Tigers games for the past 3 years Fans have been losing faith in him for awhile now, it’s not a sudden thing. And yeah he makes a lot of dumb decisions, Dombrowski had to demote raburn so leyland would stop playing him when Andy dIrks was on fire, he makes a lot of dumb pitching switches like taking a reliever out when he’s doing well in order to have a lefty throw to a lefty and yup bad things happen when he does that. His teams have always underperformed other than his first season, it’s not a emotional thing the fans want because the Tigers are losing its been building for years and this pushed it over the top

    • bethsuek - Jun 6, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      Gotta love it when people make statements with no concern for facts. “His teams have always underperformed other than his first season.” Have you ever actually looked at his record? Obviously not, or you wouldn’t have made such an inaccurate statement.

  9. hoopmatch - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    And who the hell would they get to take his place at this time? Just a place-holder until season’s end. Might as well let him manage out his contract.

  10. lrak76 - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Show me a better replacement and I might agree to it. Leyland is one heck of a skipper and there are many teams that would want him. As much as I like Dombrowski,

  11. lrak76 - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    As much as I like Dombrowski, he put the team together. They have a lot of holes that can’t always be worked around. I don’t llike to use the injury excuse because every teams has them but the Tigers have been hit hard early. The big problem is I don’t think they have the resources to make many improvements and the smell of desperation will only drive up the prices on mediocre players. If the Tigers get Fister, Jackson, Dirks, Laird, Avila and Al Burquerque all back healthy (at the same time) and he still can’t get above .500 then it might be time to move on.

  12. dracko19 - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Simonson is an irrational, knee-jerk, blowhard. He reminds me of that fat guy at the bar that yells at the tv after every out the home team makes or that drunken fan at the ball game yelling at every player. If you wouldn’t listen to those type of guys giving advice about a team, you shouldn’t listen to Simonson (or be promoting his spew)

  13. locogoddess - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    And who is Bill Simonson again? How many World Series rings and Baseball Manager of The Year awards does he have?

    Sounds like he suffers from delusions of adequacy.

    San Francisco Giants diehard who KNOWS baseball!!!!

  14. Old Gator - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    Another reason to fire the manager: keeping a halfassed triple-A team in contention for 70% of the season and then winning Manager of the Year. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Joe Girardi.

    • jimbo1949 - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      That’s what happens when you tell the stupid team owner he’s stupid. All that proved was Girardi was correct.

      • Old Gator - Jun 5, 2012 at 9:03 PM

        There’s an old adage in literary studies – harping on the difference between “showing” and “telling” in narrative. I won’t go into that in detail since nobody is paying me to teach it anymore, but let’s just say that Girardi didn’t exactly “tell” Scrooge McLoria he thought he was stupid – but he definitely showed him.

        So what did Scrooge McLoria do? Why, he turned right around and showed the Macondo city commissioners how stupid he thought they were, and as we all know, he proved that assumption correct as well.

  15. historiophiliac - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    I was pretty annoyed with Leyland re: Brandon Inge. I couldn’t figure out if Inge had good pictures on him or what. I mean, Inge was hitting for sh*t in spring training and Leyland says: well, he’s not hitting for average but he’s hitting the ball hard. WTF kind of achievement is that? I think the players respond well to Leyland because they know he supports them and is loyal, but maybe he lets his feelings cloud his judgment. All that said, I like Leyland and the way he manages generally. I think there’s been some changes this year and the team is having a hard time gelling on-field. I see it as a player performance issue rather than one with Leyland’s management.

  16. sparty0n - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Fire him please! As a Tigers fan, I have wanted this for 3 years. I read an piece from one of the Detroit area papers 4 or 5 years ago. Leyland is the one that encouraged Brandon Inge to swing for the fence every time and not worry about stikeouts. I kept thinking of the movie Signs….

    Lionel Prichard: Merrill’s a class-A screw-up. He just swing that bat as hard as he could every time. Didn’t matter what the coaches said, didn’t matter who was on base. He’d just whip that bat through the air as hard as he could. Looked like a lumberjack chopping down a tree. Merrill here has more strikeouts than any two players.
    SFC Cunningham: You really got the strikeout record?
    Merrill: Felt wrong not to swing.

    Inge was never going to be a hall of famer (should have never been an all-star really). But Leyland did him no favors. I was so bummed when they renewed his contract for another year. The only good thing that could come out of this terrible season is that Leyland’s contract is finally over.

  17. sabatimus - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I wonder what’s going to happen to Showalter when the Orioles stop playing WAAY over their heads and come back down to earth? It’s already started (they’re 2-8 in the last 10), and when it continues (yes, WHEN), will Duquette dump Showalter? On the other hand, Showalter is nowhere near the coach Leyland is.

  18. danielponce - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    you fire the manager if youre the marlins

  19. hushbrother - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Also, who is there waiting in the wings who’s going to do such a wonderful job and turn the team around? Joe “Morgan Magic” Morgan? I don’t think Leyland is the greatest manager who ever lived, but he’s certainly not the problem in Detroit.

  20. rico7207 - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    I was calling for this 3 years ago and the same fans claimed he was a Sparky Anderson. Now these idiots can have him and his old school ways, as I have stopped spending any $$$ to watch that garbage. I could care less if this bunch left Detroit entirely. I spend my $$$$$ on trips instead and do not miss this trash at all.

  21. bearsrulepackdrool - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Everyone here needs to take a step back and read the line that says “I think, if the Tigers fall to 8-10 games out of first place before the end of June,” Meaning NOT NOW. He’s got a point. The Sox are hot the Indians will make a run. The Tiggers are done for. They were planning their World Series parade in downtown Detroit before the season started.

  22. stringer52 - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Simonson is awful. He spews uninformed opinions and reactions. That being said, Leyland cannot win with the fans in Detroit. I’m no Leyland apologist by any stretch. However, if he leaves a pitcher in and the pitcher gets hammered then he gets nailed for not taking the pitcher out quick enough. If he gives the guy the hook, and the releiver gives up a run, then he gets hammered for taking the starter out too soon. It is like that with every decision he makes. He gets all the blame when his decisions don’t work out and none of the credit when they do. All the expectation has only amplified things this year.

    I say this, if you want to fire Leyland, who should replace him? And please do not say Terry Francona….

  23. bearsrulepackdrool - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Keep him. It’ll be the only way the Sox win the Central.

  24. rj58 - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    I agree with fusionix above – the Tigers have a roster full of guys who had career years last year and this year are playing back at their level. Hopes for an easy division title were overblown from the start and not based on a sober assessment of these guys’ past histories. Leyland may be part of the problem but what we’re really seeing in Detroit this year is just regression to the mean. So relax and enjoy the games but stop holding your breath…

  25. hisgirlgotburrelled - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    rick porcello has allowed 15 runs in the first inning this year. can’t really say ‘should have taken him out earlier.’ unless you mean porcello should be in triple-A, which he probably should be. and scherzer allowed 21 runs in 24 1/3 in April. hard to win games with such poopy pitching.

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