Albom: Let’s talk about that first year in Detroit, 2006. That was an amazing turnaround.
Leyland: When I got here, I didn’t really have a relationship with any of the players. I knew it was a talented group of guys, but it wasn’t a very good team. To be honest, I had heard about some of the stuff that went on the year before, and I knew it was a rough situation.
Albom: How did you change it?
Leyland: If I saw things getting out of whack, I stepped on it right away — and the guys responded very well. I think they kind of enjoyed the fact that hey, this guy mean business, you know? It was a thrill, really, to come in after they hadn’t won for 12 years and go to the World Series. I guess I’m bragging, but I thought that was pretty good.
Detroit Tigers prospects Tyler Collins, Dixon Machado, Devon Travis gaining experience in Arizona Fall League – George Sipple, Free Press
Tyler Collins was hitting .237 with one home run and four RBIs in 16 games with 12 walks and 13 strikeouts. Dixon Machado batted .162 through 11 games with no extra-base hits, four RBIs, seven walks and 12 strikeouts.
Devon Travis was hitting .220 through 15 games with two homeruns and 11 RBIs with six walks and 13 strikeouts.
Fans can rest easy: This time around, the Tigers are going to get themselves a closer – Matthew B. Mowery, Advisor & Source Newspapers
The Tigers will need more than just one guy to fix the problems of the pen, especially since they declined to pick up the $4 million team option on set-up man Jose Veras’ contract, and Drew Smyly — the team’s other reliable back-end option from 2013 — could be headed back to the rotation, if the Tigers move one of their surplus of starters.
News from around the AL Central
Indians May Need to Rebuild Starting Rotation – Jeff D. Gorman, Indians 101
Baseball’s general managers will meet in Orlando, Fla., this week, and Cleveland Indians’ starter Ubaldo Jimenez is expected to reject the Tribe’s contract offer, according to the Plain Dealer.
In addition, Scott Kazmir is also expected to be moving on from the Tribe. PD writer Paul Hoynes said he is looking for a multi-year contract, while the Indians would rather sign him to a one-year deal.
Can Mike Moustakas Take The Next Step? – David Hill, Kings of Kauffman
At age 25, Moustakas still has time to be able to figure things out with the bat. Despite his underwhelming statistics, there are signs that he may be heading in the right direction. His line drive rate was up to 22% last season, and he dropped his strikeout rate to 16.2%. Moustakas, despite not having the best power numbers, actually had a higher percentage of his hits go for extra bases than league average. Could Moustakas be on the verge of reaching his potential?
Twins Looking at Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo and Others as Free-Agent Pitching Targets – Chris Schad, Yahoo Contributor Network
Santana has been maddeningly inconsistent during his career, but he went 9-10 with a career-low 3.24 ERA after coming over from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He throws harder than anybody currently in the Twins’ rotation and can be the upper-half starter they desperately need.
Arroyo would meet Ryan’s annual desire for someone who can eat innings. In the last nine seasons, he has thrown at least 199 innings while averaging 13.2 wins with the Cincinnati Reds. He’ll turn 37 next February, but could at least serve as a credible stop gap while Alex Meyer and Kyle Gibson develop in the minors.
Chicago teams enter GM meetings with plenty to do – Colleen Kane, Chicago Tribune
The Sox likely have made their biggest offseason move with the signing of Cuban slugger Jose Abreu late last month and remained silent as of Friday on when negotiations with 15-year Sox veteran first baseman Paul Konerko would take place. Konerko, 37, expected to meet with general manager Rick Hahn and Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf near his offseason home in Arizona sometime this month to discuss his future. He could retire or accept a lesser role with the arrival of Abreu.
While there is room for pitching help, the Sox’s biggest worry is fixing one of the worst offenses in baseball in 2013. Their most obvious need is a catcher, but they could shop for outfielders or test the trade waters with an infielder or pitcher. The Blue Jays’ interest in Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, which began as early as the winter of 2011-12, has resurfaced.