Webster’s dictionary defines the word half truth as “a statement that is only partially true”. For example, the statement that “Brett Favre was a great quarterback and I hope that he comes back next season” is a half truth. I believe that he was a great quarterback but I certainly hope that he does not come back next season.
Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch gave us a half truth at a news conference yesterday when he said that both general manager Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland will be returning to the team next season.
I believe that Dave Dombrowski will be back next year. However, I would be shocked to see Jim Leyland back on the bench for the Detroit Tigers next year. Even though his contract runs through the 2011 season, the Tigers cannot afford to keep him past this current year.
Ever since they shocked the world and made it to the World Series in 2006, the team has had high hopes going into spring training. They seemed to always play well in the first half of the season as well. It is the second half that has been their Achilles heel ever since Leyland took over back in 2006.
Sure, they made it to the World Series in 2006, but they had to back their way into the playoffs. They lost their last 5 games in the regular season and were lucky to win the Wild Card race. The Tigers collapsed in 2007 & 2008. We all remember how we thought the Tigers had the division wrapped up last year. They had a 7 game lead over the second place Minnesota Twins on September 6th with 26 games remaining. Over the next 26 games, the Twins went 18-8 while the Tigers went 11-15. The Twins also won 4 of the 7 games that were played between them and the Tigers as well. The Twins ended up beating the Tigers in a one game playoff at the end of the season to win the division.
Now I know that the manager can’t control how his team plays on the field. But, he can control who plays on the field. That is where I think that Jim Leyland is failing as a manager. He does not seem to be making the adjustments needed to keep his team playing well. His inability to do that will most likely cost him his job.
Mike Ilitch may have said that Jim Leyland is coming back next year, but I’d bet anyone an order of Little Caesars crazy bread that he won’t.