I honestly don’t know how the Tigers bring back Jim Leyland who has a 1-8 record in the World Series for Detroit. He’s not a bad manager or playoff manager by any means. Managing a baseball club is not that hard, especially in the American League.
But something in Motown needs to change and it has to start with the coaching style as they did not have the team ready for the most crucial series of the season, for the second time after a long break in between series.
The answer is not a new hitting coach – though one would think that’d be the case after the offensive performance Detroit had – but learning to play a different style of ball altogether.
We saw in the postseason you can have all the sluggers you want in a lineup, but if a team relies too heavily on doubles and home runs for a majority of their offense they will run into trouble in a four-game series and that was the case for both the Yankees and Tigers. The world champion Giants knew how to do the small things right on offense and that is precisely why they had so much success and were able to sweep for their title.
On Deck: Also coming back with Leyland for 2013 will be relief pitcher Octavio Dotel and shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Smart moves by Detroit as the ones who won’t be coming back will be discussed below.
It is so important, if possible, to keep the core of your roster intact for the future when a team comes up so short. We see it every year with the Yankees and more recently with the Texas Rangers returning to the post-season with familiar names.
Dotel will keep depth and leadership in a bullpen that had some flaws during the regular season and more in the playoffs with his and Phil Coke’s arms being the only reliable ones Leyland could turn to.
As for Peralta, even though he didn’t have great numbers at the plate after the All-Star break, he seemed to wake up when the playoffs got underway going 13 for 50 with three home runs.
But the main reason he was resigned was his ability to make the plays at shortstop on a routine basis. I haven’t studied the free agent market on shortstops, but good ones are hard to come by and if you have a guy you can relay on and fits in in the clubhouse and won’t be a distraction it makes little sense to go in another direction when the Tigers will be a great spot to content for another World Series in 2013.
In the Hole: No surprise here that Jose Valverde will not being closing any more games for the Tigers. After a flawless 49 save season from a year ago and a 2.24 ERA, Valverde struggled all of 2012 with five blown saves and a 3.78 ERA.
But his two worst performances came in the playoffs when he blew a two-run lead in the ninth-inning of game four of the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics forcing a game five. He followed that by allowing two two-run home runs in the ninth against the Yankees to force extras. While the Tigers won in extras, that was the last time Papa Grande pitched for the Tigers.
He can still be a good relief pitcher, but after the postseason it’s safe to say he won’t be a teams closer at the start of 2013 and will come very cheap, not making near the $9-million he did this year in Detroit.
The other Tiger out the door is Delmon Young and that became evident after his ALCS performance in which he received MVP honors. Young filled the void that was left by Victor Martinez’s busted knee and with him likely to return back to full heath to start the 2013 campaign, Young’s usefulness is over in Detroit.
But leaving the Tigers is also in the best interest for Young as he will make a ton more money playing for another team.
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