Monday, August 8, 2011

I don't want to live on this planet anymore

Tigers extend contracts of Jim Leyland (2012) and Dave Dombrowski (2015)

My reaction, in a montage of images:

Dombrowski I can live with most days; while I want to throw him off the Ambassador Bridge for literally having nothing to show for talented 2B Scott Sizemore, not to mention some of his other boneheaded, short-sighted moves (o Jurrjens, where art thou?), he's done some good things while he's been in Detroit.
Leyland, however, proves that you don't have to do a good job to earn your money, or in this case, a new contract.  This was his put up or shut up year (a gift, as far as I was concerned, since I think last year would have been a nice time to cut bait) and he has yet to prove anything in a very weak AL Central.  Leyland is living off the afterglow of a lucky World Series appearance five years ago (plus a ring from almost 15 years ago) and he's done nothing since to earn his multiple contract extensions.

For those of you that don't know, here's how Leyland's teams performed in the second halves of his first five seasons in Detroit.  If you can count that high, you can see that this is less than a .500 winning percentage and therefore not good.

In 2006 the Tigers basically rode a ridiculous first half to an extremely lucky Wild Card berth, which should have been a division crown, something Leyland hasn't even been in the ballpark of (if you'll pardon the pun) since.  The 36-38 2nd half finish was the start of an alarming (unless you're Detroit's front office) trend.

2007 and 2008 saw a great start and typically poor finish, then a horrible first half plus .500 second half, respectively, and in both seasons, of course, Detroit failed to make it to the postseason. 2008's finish was particularly poor, not that the playoffs were realistic after a .500 start.  

2009, now that was a banner year--another strong start gave way to a .500 second half in which the Tigers found a way to almost earn a return trip to the playoffs, then give the Twins a foot in the door, then mismanage their way through a loss in the 163rd game (albeit with an indefensibly-missed Brandon Inge HBP).  Leyland favorite and titanic mountain of suck Gerald Laird got to remain in the game despite going 0-6 with two strikeouts in the most crucial game of the season and his team deservedly lost by a run in extras.

2010's second half was basically the opposite of the first, which meant that the Tigers got to enjoy another .500 season, some fine October golfing and the World Series on TV for all I know.  "Wonderful!" Jim Leyland cackled from his fortress of doom and incompetence.  "More opportunity to arrange some ill-timed poor decisions and make myself even more stubborn about hitting my second baseman second.  Polanco's still our second baseman, right?"

2011's first half saw the Tigers finish five games above .500, a not terrible record in a not-great division.  If you're of at least below-average intelligence, you can probably surmise that Detroit will continue its trend of sub-.500 second half baseball and miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year (after making it by a hair six years ago).  Still, it's reasonable to hope your team bucks this trend.  However, awarding another year of a contract to the guy that's been leading your team down this cliff instead of making him prove that he can find a safer way down?

Instead of canning the source of the problem (when the inevitable happens, may as well let him finish out the year) and going into the offseason with a plan to improve, Detroit will probably suffer through more Leylandball next year, fire him in the middle of the season then have to go through the annoyance of an interim manager and candidate search.

Listen:  fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me three times, that's a crowd.  Fool me four times, maybe I should start to see a pattern.  Fool me five times and I'll give you a contract extension.


  1. I agree completely about Leyland being overrated. He stunk in his very forgettable one year stint with the Rockies. The only manager more overrated is Tony LaRussa.

    I would take Bobby Cox over both of them any day of the week. Although I would take just about anyone over Jim "let's use six pitchers everyday" Tracy right about now.

  2. Good post, and I can't believe they extended him another year. We're screwed but hey if we bow out of the race at least it wont be the twins representing the Central this year. Hopefully they'll keep their shit together and ride out the season in style.