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Leyland needs to utilize players better


Leyland needs to utilize players better
If Jim Leyland can figure out a way to manage a pitching staff and off days better, the Detroit Tigers have a great shot at being a playoff team this year.

The skipper has to find a feel for the game and know when pitchers need to exit immediately and when to ride an arm to victory. His over-managing has kept the Tigers from three division titles in the past four years.

He rests players way too often and doesn't go with his best talent often enough. Leyland is a sub-.500 manager for his career and has to make better pitching and rest decisions to make the Tigers a better team.

Leyland's basic instincts of managing have been too inconsistent, going back to 2006 when the Tigers finished as a wild card team during that magical run that ended with Leyland horribly out-managed by Tony La Russa in the World Series.

Leyland needs to play his best lineup and run out his best arms from the bullpen every chance he gets. Some of this came to light during the sweep of the Rangers over the weekend. He has a team good enough to get into the playoffs.

After one week, I really like the feel of this team. They seem to have some of that same chemistry we all fell in love with in 2006.

A better team

The defense is much improved from a year ago. Miguel Cabrera is as good as any player in Baseball. If Brandon Inge hits the long ball like he did the first week, he may end up an All-Star.

I want Inge to be the player everyone thinks he is, but the fact is, his lifetime batting average is below .240. If he hits .250 with 20 homers and plays the defense he is paid to play, that will be huge for this team.

The everyday lineup is the best the Tigers have had under Leyland. The starting rotation looks more impressive than what they had a year ago.

I think rookie Rick Porcello is as special as any pitcher the Tigers have ever had in their organization. Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Zach Miner, Porcello and Armando Galarraga are solid as a starting unit.

Verlander is the real key, as he needs to step up and pitch like a No. 1 guy in the rotation. If Jeremy Bonderman can come back healthy in a couple months, that will be big.

I do wish the Tigers would have made a run at Derek Lowe, to have a veteran who has pitched big games and help the young pitchers like Kenny Rogers did in 2006. If Verlander can't win 15-20 games, who is their ace?

Pitching still a question

Galarraga has been the team's pitching MVP the past calendar year. That is a concern. Edwin Jackson is a nice pickup and seems to have a warrior's mentality on the mound.

Miner and Porcello will give the Tigers time to stay in contention while Bonderman tries to get healthy.

The good thing is that all of the starting pitching staffs in the American League Central have depth issues.

The back end of the Detroit bullpen is surprisingly strong early, with Bobby Seay, Ryan Perry and Fernando Rodney closing things out. If Joel Zumaya can bring a healthy fastball back to Comerica Park, it only helps what has been the team's weakness the past three years.

Nate Robertson seems to look better in short relief than as a starter. Brandon Lyon should never close another game for this team. He doesn't have the fastball to be a closer.

I think this season is on Leyland. Where is that mean, chain-smoking, tough-guy manager we grew to love like a father in 2006?

I think this team has more talent than the 2006 Tigers .

Now it's up to Leyland to manage this team to the playoffs or find another job.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 15, 2009

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