It might actually be a prudent move by the Detroit Tigers to send him packing in the very near future. If you think this is a knee-jerk reaction to Tigers' recent slump -- please consider the following.
A recent article by a terrific reporter that covers the Tigers listed a few reasons why firing Leyland now would make no sense. Yet with all due respect, I think the reasons laid out in that article are exactly why he SHOULD be fired -- soon. Let's play point - counterpoint.
Point. Firing Leyland in mid-season would do nothing do improve the Tigers' playoff chances.
Counterpoint. Maybe, maybe not, but other than fattening up owner Mike Ilitch's coffers, just making the playoffs is overrated. Even if the Tigers were playing to the best of their abilities, they might barely crack the Top 5 teams in the American League. Them making it to World Series this year, let alone winning it, is a long shot, to say the least. And in pro sports -- what's the only end result that's satisfactory? Winning the championship.
Point. Leyland knows the players and bringing in a new manager in the middle of the season, whether he's a retread from another team, or up from the minor leagues, would constitute "throwing in the towel". No way could the new guy connect with the players that fast to possibly turn the season around.
Counterpoint. Given the Tigers certainly don't appear to be World Series caliber this year, what BETTER time to bring in a new skipper? He'd have the rest of the season to familiarize himself with the players, and vice-versa. Would it be better to wait until the end of the year to hire a new guy so they can all begin "brand new" in 2013 spring training? I think not.
Point. Getting rid of Leyland means his coaching staff, all 6 of them, would have to go too. They've been with him since his Pittsburgh Pirate days.
Counterpoint. What's the big deal? When a political candidate defeats an incumbent, or a new CEO takes over a company, the "old guard" gets broomed. The new guy wants his own aides and staffers. That's just business as usual.
Point. Leyland's not a potential lame duck because he's in the last year of his contract. It was Leyland's decision to have it that way.
Counterpoint. Baloney. Those calls are made by the GM/Pres, with the approval of the owner. If they wanted him signed to a long term deal -- trust me -- he'd BE signed to a long term deal. Those salaries are guaranteed. Even if the Tigers fired Leyland in mid-contract -- they'd still have to pay him. Leyland may be a lot of things, but he's no fool. Only a fool WOULDN'T sign such a contract -- unless they were considering retirement -- and Leyland has made no mention of that.
Yes, like the man said, there's plenty of blame to go around. The players haven't performed up to expectations, but perhaps they were unrealistic to start with. After all, the Tigers have one great pitcher and two great sluggers. That's about it. All the rest of the hype seems to assume a bunch of average players will turn in optimum performances. It usually doesn't work out that way.
Injuries happen to all teams so that's no excuse. The Toledo-Detroit bus route has been busy lately. Both ways, with players going up and down. It appears the Tigers have depleted their farm system of most good "prospects" through front office decisions over the recent years. That falls squarely in the lap of GM/Pres Dave Dombrowski. On top of that, he's got half of the salary cap committed to 3 players out of 25. This does not smack of fiscal responsibility. Maybe he should get fired too.
It's hard to feel sorry for owner Mike Ilitch. The man's a billionaire and he's enjoyed his fair share of glory with his other team, the Detroit Red Wings, winning a few Stanley Cups. But good intentions or not, it's doubtful he'll ever see his Tigers win a World Series. While some never-say-die local pundits bombard the fans with their eternal optimism, somewhere along the line reality creeps in to those with objective minds. Contrary to some local sentiment, the Tigers aren't the epicenter of the universe when it comes to baseball. Every year, some other teams get better, and some get worse. Right now, the Tigers appear to be amongst the latter. Given the above mentioned salary cap and minor league situations, it wouldn't seem like help will be coming any time soon.
So why not just clean house and start over?
Of course, that begs the question of who would replace Jim Leyland as manager. I suggest Brandon Inge. He'd hang up his spikes in a heartbeat for a chance to be a manager. Besides, it wouldn't be that much of a transition for the Tiger players. Leyland couldn't hit either. That's why he got into managing. Inge certainly knows the players and the town. And unlike Leyland, Inge is a nice guy with the press and fans. Despite his career statistics, he's always been hugely popular in Detroit.
Who would be the perfect replacement for Dave Dombrowksi as GM/Pres is a tough call. It's a multi-faceted job, so why not have it done by committee? Bring in Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern, and Barry Bonds as co-GMs.
The Tigers might not fare so well on the field, but wow, it sure would make things more interesting.
And just a hunch, but I'm guessing that reporter's interviews might get a lot more interesting as well.