Jim Leyland: Managing to Lose

I have to admit my bias:  I am a huge Jim Leyland fan.

He reminds me of the old-school managers I remember from my youth — and I love his roughness and his tough-guy attitude.

But there is something about his management style that leaves much to be desired now that he has no bullpen.  It’s the fact that he seems to believe that relief pitchers should not pitch more than one inning — regardless of how well they perform.

The Detroit Tigers’ players blew the first two games against the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend.  But Sunday’s loss belongs to Jim Leyland.  The Tigers’ offense did a great job of battling back to take the lead in the late innings — and Bobby Seay looked unhittable in relief.  It was Leyland’s call to put Fernando Rodney in to try to close out the game that led to the disappointing loss.

Why do three different pitchers have to pitch the 7th, 8th and 9th innings?  Why does a guy with nothing to offer get the nod to try to close out a game when the guy before him was perfectly capable of getting the job done?  It simply doesn’t make any sense.

Leyland has often said that he “manages for the season and not the game.”  In other words, he’s not as concerned with tactics for winning the game he’s playing today, but rather in finding a formula for winning game after game during the entire year.

That’s fine if you’ve got a first place team that’s trying to preserve their place at the top.  But when you’re struggling to stay in third place and it’s August, you do whatever you’ve got to do to grind out a win.

It’s time for Leyland to re-think his strategies.  Unless he’s ready to write off the 2008 season.


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