The All-Star Break has come and gone, and Jim Leyland is now officially on the clock.
It may only be my clock that he’s on, but that’s all that matters, in my little, narcissistic world.
The Tigers manager has done a pretty solid job in his four years, when it comes to games played before that symbolic halfway point, aka the All-Star Break.
After that? Not so much.
Readers of this blog for any considerable amount of time might be rolling their eyes right about now, for they know what’s coming.
Eno’s annual warning of Jim Leyland’s second half troubles in Detroit.
The facts are these: even in 2006, when the Tigers zoomed to the top of the standings and made the playoffs, they stumbled down the stretch. They did so again in 2007. Did it again last year, even though they weren’t in true contention, as they were in ’06 and ’07.
You want numbers?
In 2006, the Tigers were 59-29 at the break, but went 36-38 after it–including a brutal 19-31 stretch run that cost them the divisional title.
In 2007, the team was 52-34 before the break, and 36-40 after it.
Last year: 47-47 before, 27-41 after.
The grand total under Jim Leyland reads 158-110 before the All-Star Break, and 99-119 after it.
That cannot happen this year, because it will cost the Tigers not only the division, but the Wild Card, which is almost certain to come out of the East Division.
In Leyland’s defense, the Tigers recovered in the 2006 post-season and made the World Series.
But it’s still a strange and disturbing trend.
Injuries have played a part; another excuse for the apologists.
In ’06, Placido Polanco injured his shoulder diving for a ball in Boston, and missed several weeks. The Tigers’ offense wasn’t the same without him.
In ’07, Gary Sheffield injured his shoulder diving for a ball in Detroit, and missed several weeks. The Tigers’ offense wasn’t the same without him.
But if just one player’s absence can so disrupt a team, then doesn’t that reflect on the manager?
Aren’t the true “geniuses” able to adapt, and go with the flow, pushing different buttons and keeping the team afloat?
The Tigers have done anything but stay afloat in post-All-Star Game play under Leyland. They’ve sunk like rocks, truth be told. Only the Wild Card saved face for them in 2006.
It was an argument I used last fall, when Leyland told the papers that he felt he deserved a contract extension.
I had two good years and one bad one, the manager told the press, knowing it would be printed and show up his owner—not normally a smart move.
Wrong, Jim, I countered.
You had three decent first halves and three bad ones, is what you had.
Three bad second halves is often more than enough to get a manager tossed out on his ear, rather than get his contract extended.
But I was also one of the first to say that if Leyland was deserving of an extension as the 2009 season grew older, then he’d get one—because he works for a very fair owner.
Well, the Tigers played about two months and hadn’t fallen on their faces, so Mike Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski gave Leyland that extension, after all.
So that’s settled, anyway.
What’s not been tied up in a big, red bow is this issue of second half malaise in the Jim Leyland Years.