At The Quarter Pole: Management


Here’s the part where we grade the Tigers based on offseason and in-season roster moves, in-game strategy and off-the-field management. There are only two guys to list, since we can never really determine how much say any of their ‘underlings’ might have had in any given decision.

Dave Dombrowski: B

Many of Dombrowski’s personnel moves are paying off beautifully – the decision to sign Victor Martinez being an obvious example, as well as the much-criticized low risk deal given to Al Alburquerque – who has been the Tigers second best reliever. Brad Penny has been healthy and well worth the $3 million contract. Kevin Eichhorn and Ryan Robowski are pitching well enough in A-ball that the Galarraga trade looks like more than just a player dump. Resigning Peralta is looking like a canny move, unfortunately the same cannot be said for the deals given to Brandon Inge and Magglio Ordonez – salary which the team could, at worst, be forced to simply eat. The jury is still out on the contract given to Joaquin Benoit – reliever signings are always risky and he doesn’t look like to earn the money he is being given, but the need for bullpen help has become ever more glaring. It’s difficult to fault Dombrowski for overpaying in such a situation.

Jim Leyland: B-

Many of you will take issue with this immediately. Leyland’s faults are, as always, much more visible than his strengths. That said, his strengths do exist. Note that not once in the past 6 weeks have you heard a player publicly criticize teammates or management, or complain over how he is being used. Nor have we had any brawls on planes, etc… Leyland manages egos and manages people, not just bats and stats. If that were the whole story, I would be inclined to give Leyland a C simply for doing everything off the field right while doing everything on the field wrong.

However, Leyland’s management of bats and stats still leaves something to be desired. Despite his problems, Magglio Ordonez has hit 3rd in 23 of 26 games. Austin Jackson has led off in 35 of 40 games despite a .288 on-base percentage and a league leading 51 strikeouts. Ah, but that is – in fact – remarkable flexibility and adaptation from Jim Leyland. Before Ordonez went on the DL, Leyland came around and began batting him 6th. At the depths of his slump, Austin Jackson was moved to 9th where he belonged. Though I may find the number of plate appearances given to Austin Jackson (for example) grating while Dirks and Wells rot, Leyland’s loyalty (or strategy of waiting out slumps) has seemingly proven effective for Austin Jackson, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta. Before his demotion, Will Rhymes had shown signs of improvement as well. Why only a B- then? He’s still batting Don Kelly third and he’s still leaving relievers in the game after walking the first two batters they face – and those are managerial strategies I just can’t countenance.