Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, March 27, 2006

Even better than it looks?

Billfer already wrote about this at The Detroit Tigers Weblog, but I wanted to chime in on the subject, as well. In Saturday's Detroit Free Press article about Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya making the trip north to Detroit, Jim Leyland explained one of the influences on this decision:

"Our 13 position players -- and this is a big factor -- would look at me like I was nuts if I didn't take those two guys.

"I think I would lose some credibility. They'd look at me and say, 'What are these guys doing? What are they looking at?' "

Like Bill, I think Alan Trammell made a mistake when he gave Bobby Higginson a spot on last year's team instead of Marcus Thames, who'd clearly outperformed him in Spring Training. And that may have been the beginning of Trammell's end as Tigers manager.

I think he lost the team before they even left for Detroit, thanks to that decision. Not only did it obviously divide some players in the clubhouse, but sent the wrong message of status over merit to a largely young clubhouse - especially once it became clear that Higginson just couldn't play anymore.

I have no idea if this is something that factored into Leyland's thinking. I doubt it. And even if it did, he wouldn't say so. But it seems to show that the new manager has a better read on his clubhouse than the former manager did.

It's difficult not to note Leyland's approach and praise him for it without at least indirectly criticizing Trammell. And I know Leyland's been very conscious of that. But in an offseason that made few changes on the roster, thus demonstrating what the Tigers' front office thought the problem really was, it's virtually impossible not to point out the differences in philosophy. It'll be interesting to keep track of whether this decision will have as much of an influence on the upcoming season.

▪▪ If you haven't read them already, check out Big Al's painful rehashing of the Mike Ilitch and Tom Monaghan ownership reigns in Detroit at The Wayne Fontes Experience. You might have to bite down on something while you read them. It'll hurt. But talk about thorough. The man didn't miss a point.

▪▪ Does it matter whether Carlos Pena was released yesterday or today? Probably not. But Pena forced the Tigers hand a bit by asking where he stood with the team, according to Tom Gage. (And if the Detroit News' website could figure out what the #@$% it's doing with its blogs, I could give you a proper link. It's the 03/26/06 entry.)

▪▪ Danny Knobler puts the Pena saga in financial terms: The Tigers spent $4 million trying to figure out if he could play. Ouch.



  • At March 27, 2006 2:34 PM, Blogger the sports dude said…

    I think Tram was just not ready, I guess that is kind of a silly and obvious statement, but I think it rings true. I still think Tram has the baseball smarts to be a successful manager, but being thrown to the wolves with the Tigers was just too much for him. The best thing for Tram should have been to start managing somewhere in the minors, where there are young guys that would listen to someone like him and respect him, whereas in the majors you get too many vets that think they are just owed everything and need to earn nothing.

    I also think maybe Tram felt a little obligated to Higgy, whereas they played together and that Higgy had earned the benefit of the doubt. It clearly was a mistake and I think that Leyland made the move as a claculated one, like he said, knowing full well that there would have been the 13 position players that might have said "here we go again!"

    Leyland brings a credibility as a manager that Tram had yet to establish. I will tell you this though, for sticking out that 119 loss minor league team playing at the bog league level season says a lot about the type of man Tram is and I think, and hope, that someday he will get a second chance.

  • At March 27, 2006 3:33 PM, Anonymous Evan said…

    I was hoping something like this would happen. Verlander and Zumaya don't just seem like good arms; they seem like good competitors. And being shoved on a team where you KNOW you're going to win (e.g., the minors) does nothing to fuel that. These guys will be good in the lockerroom; they'll be good for the team; and they'll be good in terms of developing.

    It's astonishing to say, but the Tigers have one of the most promising groups of young pitchers in baseball. Pretty awesome.

  • At March 27, 2006 8:29 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Sports Dude, I agree with you and think I came off a bit harsher on Tram than I intended. The man was in over his head, and ultimately I put that on Dombrowski.

    I think he hired Tram for the free pass, hoping that the Tigers wouldn't take as much crap from the fans with a beloved icon in the dugout. And by doing that, Dombrowski underestimated both the fans' intelligence and their frustration with years of losing baseball.

    Evan, you're right - the time is now for Verlander and Zumaya. They served their time in the minors and can help the big league club now. And I think the clubhouse will provide a much better environment for them, with the additions of Rogers and Jones, than it would have last year.

  • At March 28, 2006 10:20 AM, Blogger Greg Eno said…

    As an aside, I think we're in for a treat with Leyland this summer. He has some awesome quotes.

    When he talked about being apologetic to Zumaya and Verlander after waiting so long to tell them they were on the team:

    "But at that point, they didn't care what I said. I could have told them to wash my car and they would have done it. If it was mine, I would have. But it was a rental."


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