Feb 20, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland (left) and general manager David Dombrowski during workouts at Joker Merchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Will Jim Leyland’s Contract Be Extended?

With all of the talk about the players and owner in the off-season, we have not heard much about the skipper of the Detroit Tigers – Jim Leyland.  Last spring, the Tigers gave Leyland a contract extension of a year, through the 2012 season.  One has to think that unless the Tigers have a complete collapse, the skipper will be granted at least a one year extension.  The question is, does he want to continue managing?  His close friend Tony LaRussa decided after the 2011 season that it was time to retire.  Perhaps Leyland could feel the same if the Tigers were fortunate enough to win the World Series in 2012.

A few months ago John Verburg wrote that Lloyd McClendon could be the Tigers’ manager of the future.  I had touched upon a similar thought late in 2011.  Tom Brookens has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Leyland, one strong point being his membership in the moustache brotherhood.  McClendon is the younger of the two and has MLB managerial experience from his time in Pittsburgh, but Brookens has grown through the ranks of the Tigers, having played for the Tigers and managed in the minors for them as well.  Regardless of who it is, I have a hard time thinking the Tigers go outside of their organization to fill the managing vacancy in 2013…supposing there is one.

The question of who will be 2013’s manager really will come down to how Leyland feels.  As he approaches 112 years of age (or 68 if you believe “official” sources), he has to be thinking that some season will be his last.  However, as long as the Tigers are putting a quality product on the field and that team produces as expected, the skipper will be given every opportunity to continue to serve as manager of the Detroit Tigers.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out throughout the year.  Even more interesting to watch will be to see when the traditional media will pick up on it.  It seemed to be a big story throughout spring last year – this year there has been nary a peep.  My guess is that once they get tired of writing about Brandon Inge, Prince Fielder and his Dad, and Miguel Cabrera’s adventures at 3B, they may start talking about…so, watch for it in May.

I have long been annoyed by Leyland’s lineups and some of his moves in game, but I think he is a positive for the Tigers.  I believe that managers don’t win many games but they certainly can lose them and Leyland does a pretty good job of not losing games.  He gives even more character to an already colorful team and the players seem to love him.  So, I hope he manages this club as long as he wants…or at least until he plays Don Kelly at 1st and hits him cleanup in a regular season game.

Tags: Brandon Inge Don Kelly Featured Jim Leyland Lloyd McClendon Miguel Cabrera Moustaches Popular Prince Fielder Sunday Lineup Tom Brookens Traditional Media

  • newcastleHOB

    At some point the Tigers may be put between a rock and a hard place regarding the managerial succession. It’s my opinion (based on very little hard evidence) that Brookens was brought on board to be the manager-in-training, and I think that Jim is likely aware of this. But Leyland’s a ‘fire in the belly’ guy- evidenced by his departure from the Rockies when the ‘fire’ wasn’t there- I think it will work in the same way in the other direction. How’s this for a hypothetical: The Tigers do well this year (and next?) and maybe win or get to a World Series or two. The demand for guys like Brookens and McClendon around the league starts to heat up, and we risk losing the ‘next generation’ (very valuable to the continuity of a good team with a core of players in their prime). But Jim still has that ‘fire’, and does not want to retire.  Management can’t fire him (the absence of a contract extension is effectively this in the world of pro sports), and he wants to hang on a couple more years, so Brookens and McClendon move on to managerial posts elsewhere, both weakening our short term coaching staff and long term continuity… I think the Tigers lose in this situation.  Come to think of it, it reminds me a bit of the Conan/Jay Leno debacle a while back… NBC is the one that wound up being the bad guy there, and TBS got Conan.  (Taking the comparison a step further… does this mean that Brookens winds up managing in Atlanta?)

    • MCBjohnverburg

       @newcastleHOB I think it that case Phil Nevin enters the equation. I have heard he is pretty highly thought of, but don’t know if that is the case or not.

  • jgorosh

    I’m upset Maddon re-upped. I was hoping we’d win the WS this year, Smokes would retire on top, and we’d open the check book for Maddon. I’m also a huge Francona fan. There really aren’t that many good options for managers anymore, unless you want to go way outside the box, which I doubt the Tigers do. I mean seriously, Boston chose between Gene Lamont and Bobby Valentine. Ew.

    • MCBjohnverburg

       @jgorosh I like guys that spend time as Mike Scoscia’s bench coach. Maddon of course, and now Ron Roenicke with the Brewers. Maybe take a look at his current bench coach (Butcher?), or Maddon’s guy?