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.