With the second World Series loss for the Tigers under Jim Leyland’s direction, along with an ALCS loss in 2011, Leyland has been the most successful Tigers manager since before Sparky Anderson. Yes, BEFORE Sparky. Anderson only took the Tigers to the playoffs twice in his 17 years.
Leyland, despite much criticism, has led the Tigers to the playoffs three times in 7 years including back to back AL Central Division Championships, but his contract has expired and after the World Series loss last night, he sounded like the future may not be clear for him.
As Danny Knobler, former Tigers beat writer and current CBS Sports Baseball Reporter, noted, Leyland did not speak of his future after the loss on Sunday night. He did not speak of “next year” as his players did.
Maybe he has changed his mind about continuing to manage, maybe the offer that Dave Dombrowski said is on the table for him, isn’t quite what he wants. It could be another one year contract or could it be that his coaching staff will not be the same and that Dombrowski wants to oversee the hiring of them?
Those are both things that could make Leyland question if he truly wants to continue managing this team, if his way and control are being limited. Gene Lemont, his best friend, bench coach and lightning rod of a 3rd base coach may be on the chopping block, along with Jeff Jones, who could be the worst pitching coach in baseball and Lloyd McClendon, the teams hitting coach, who, despite success with Austin Jackson, failed to help the team stay consistent with the bats this year.
Something Dombrowski will need to do is put a time limit on the decision Leyland will make. In typical Leyland fashion, he could try to wait for a while and waiver on his final decision. However, he cannot do this, either come back or not, the team and Dombrowski need a direction as early in the offseason as possible.
If Leyland does not come back and walks off into the sunset, Dombrowski will have to act quickly to find a replacement. Terry Francona is off the market and Toronto, Colorado and Miami are all still looking for managers too, they pickings could be slim.
The Lineup gets a nice injection to it next year with out making a move as Victor Martinez comes back from a knee injury to take over the 5th spot and DH from Delmon Young. This will be a nice improvement and a few other minor moves and any manager that takes over this team, if Leyland doesn’t come back, will have high expectations yet again, as the World Series or bust mantra will not be going away.