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Who replaces Jim Leyland as Tigers manager?

Oct 21, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

With Jim Leyland gone there is likely to be no shortage of men wanting his old job. The Tigers have star power, an owner who is willing to spend money and they look poised to remain competitive in the AL Central for the foreseeable future. In short, this job opening is one of the best to hit the classifieds in some time.

So who will replace Leyland?  Some off-the-top-of my-head ideas, heavy on candidates with Tigers connections:

Tom Brookens: The former Tigers third baseman and current Tigers third base coach, Brookens has worked his way up through the Tigers system managing at multiple levels since joining the big league coaching staff in 2009.  Brookens has infuriated some Tigers fans with some of his decisions on sending base runners home, but that’s not part of a manager’s job so maybe it helps the club!  That aside, Brookens would be a “stay-the-course” kind of candidate, likely to maintain much of the same style and to demonstrate the same temperament as Leyland, who you’d have to assume is his primary managerial mentor. The biggest drawback: no big league managing experience. Of course, since he knows this team well, it’s not as big a problem for him as it would be for outside candidates (see below).

MORE: Is Jim Leyland headed for Cooperstown?

Lloyd McClendon: The Tigers hitting coach has been with Leyland since he took over the Tigers as manager in 2006, first serving as bullpen coach then hitting coach. Leyland didn’t have a bench coach until this past season, but McClendon was thought of as serving in that capacity when the Tigers were at bat (and Gene Lamont was coaching third). McClendon has routinely been the Tigers’ fill-in manager following Leyland ejections as well.  Like Brookens, McClendon would be a continuation of what’s been going on as opposed to a departure. Unlike Brookens, McClendon has major league managerial experience, serving as Pirates skipper from 2000-05.

Gene Lamont: Leyland’s long-time coach and close friend, Lamont is also an experienced major league manager, guiding the White Sox and Pirates. He was also a candidate for the Red Sox job in the winter of 2011-12 but lost out to Bobby Valentine of all people.  One drawback: Lamont is 66. Which, fine, but with Leyland saying that he thought a younger guy should take over, you have to wonder if going more than two years younger isn’t more preferable for the Tigers at this point.

Alan Trammell: Tram is not just a Tigers legend, he’s also a former Tigers manager. Although he really did get a bum deal his first time around, being handed a team with little talent no hope of contention, which led to a 119-loss season his first year in the top job. He lasted two more seasons with Detroit — he was replaced by Leyland — and since then has served as bench coach for the Cubs and the Diamondbacks. It’s not often teams give a guy a second chance, but Trammell is not just any guy in Detroit and now has a lot more experience under his belt.

Kirk Gibson: Another Tigers legend and a former Tigers hitting coach under Trammell. However, he’s under contract in Arizona through next season with team options in 2015-16, and it’s unlikely the Diamondbacks would be willing to let him go, assuming he’d want to. Why the Tigers would want to give up talent to get him is another question. How his “gritty” style would play on a team of high-priced veterans is a final problem. This one seems more like wishcasting of Tigers fans more than anything.

Dusty Baker, Ozzie Guillen or someone like them: This is a place-holder for Experienced Manager Who Can Win Now. Dusty just happens to be the most notable guy who fits that description looking for a job. Not that I think the Tigers would be terribly interested. While they wouldn’t have fired Leyland for his tactical/bullpen brain locks, they probably wouldn’t mind getting a guy who isn’t as prone to the same sort of problems, and Baker clearly is.  Another one — and this one would be all kinds of fun — Ozzie Guillen. Unlike Baker, Guillen has a World Series ring. He also happens to be good friends with Miguel Cabrera, not that that tends to be a big factor when job openings happen. Of course Guillen fostered a LOT of hate among Tigers fans over the years for various reasons. So while it would be hilarious to see him take over the job, it would require a P.R. offensive by the team to get fans on board with a Guillen hire. Please sign me up for the P.R. job if it becomes available.

Brad Ausmus or someone like him: Let’s call this a place-holder for ALL inexperienced managers. Ausmus, known to be as smart as a tack and a guy who many think will one-day be a good major league manager. He also has zero experience, and like so many other possible names folks can throw out there, it’s hard to see how a team in the Tigers’ position — World Series contenders — would gamble on a newbie for a win-now job.

Ultimately: could be anyone for such a great opening. But I’m sure we’ll hear the names of these men tossed about a fair amount until the candidates are narrowed down.

  1. gloccamorra - Oct 21, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Let’s see, Owner Connie Mack managed, Ted Turner managed a game before being banned by the commissioner, Bobby Cox went from GM to manager, A.J. Hinch went from director of player personnel to managing the Diamondbacks, and Jerry Coleman went from the broadcast booth to manage the Padres in 1980.

    What’s left? Sportswriters! Let’s see – what does Craig know about Detroit?

    • veraarnold - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      good post ever

    • veraarnold - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      Do you like acting as inhibited as you are at work in your own house, and having future work evaluations reflect how well you entertain as well as how well you do your job? Then by all means invite people from the office….. ℬ­­­­A­­­­ℛ­­­1­­­7­­­.Ⅽ­­­­­O­­­­­­Ⅿ

  2. jrbrehm - Oct 21, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Did the Phillies sign Sandberg to a longer term deal? I’m pretty sure he was only serving as interim manager at the end of the season.

  3. thegreatstoneface - Oct 21, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    i’m hoping for the bones of sparky anderson to be brought back to sit at the end of the dugout. the current team reminds me of sparky’s teams…not quite getting as much out of the unit as it would seem they ought to achieve. tbosa would be a perfect fit.

  4. creator69 - Oct 21, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    First of all gibson is not coming here

    2) I’m thinking leyland might move into the gm position if DD were to get the commissioner job.

    3) as for the next manager I think they go outside the organization, not sure who just a feeling.

    • dtownbeatdown - Oct 21, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      You really think leyland goes from retiring as coach to becoming the GM!? That is crazy talk, he just said he was running out of fuel… Leyland will be a talent scout maybe… a GM though? No way.

      Just because arizona says Gibson isn’t leaving does not mean it is final.

  5. rmadd1 - Oct 21, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Jim Leyland will be hard to replace, but us down here in Texas will pay you to take Ron Washington.

  6. cogitobaseballergosum - Oct 21, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    Tony Pena? Experienced manager, long-time coach with a winning franchise, has expressed interest in managing again, locked out of the Yankees managerial job now that Girardi’s been re-signed, wildly successful as WBC winning manager, available if the Yankees don’t hurry and re-sign him as bench coach.

  7. samaugster23 - Oct 21, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Everyone keeps mentioning current coaches that are on the Tigers staff now. Dombrowski mentioned and I think he made it a point to say, ” All current coaches contracts are done at the end of the season”. I believe the next coach will be from outside of the organization.

  8. jdd428 - Oct 22, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    Philly did indeed remove the interim tag from Sandberg, so he’s not an option. Absolutely no way Cleveland would let Francona go to a division rival, and similarly I doubt DD would want to give up compensation for Gibson and Arizona wouldn’t let him go without some. Manuel and Baker may have experience and success, but neither is significantly younger than Leyland. … Trammell can’t be blamed entirely for how poor the team played in his first effort – he literally had nothing to work with. He actually might be the best option.

  9. franklinandbashandflorio - Oct 22, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    Pete Rose.

  10. phillytj - Oct 22, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    Veteran AL team that can mash…perfect fit for Charlie if he’s interested in managing again.

  11. thethorntonstrokes - Oct 22, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    I think I speak for all Tigers fans in saying that I’d rather be physically violated by a dolphin than have Guillen be our manager

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