I'll start out by just saying it – I don't think Jim Leyland should be manager of the Detroit Tigers next year. I understand that is not a popular opinion on this forum. However, I feel strongly about it.
I don't think Jim Leyland is a horrible manager. In fact, I think he is a pretty good manager. However, he is not a great manager. I'll be very blunt. Great managers get their teams to rise to the occasion. Anyone who thinks that the Tigers rose to the occasion in the 2013 ALCS is kidding themselves. Same goes for the 2012 World Series. Same goes for the 2006 World Series.
I understand that Jim Leyland cannot take the field. He can't swing the bat. He can't throw the ball. However, he is still the manager.
I also understand that making it to the playoffs more often than not is no small feat. However, I want to see a World Series championship. With the talent the Tigers have had in Leyland's tenure, we should have one by now. You can argue all day long about how respected Leyland is in baseball circles, how he has been a manager forever, how the players love him, that I only see a tiny part of managing, etc. To me, that falls flat. I want to see a World Series championship. I realize these things don't grow on trees. Nonetheless, Leyland is the manager. We have just gone too long with this talent to not win a championship.
I would think everyone could agree that Leyland made some (significant, in my opinion) mistakes during the ALCS. That really isn't my main issue, because he also made many good decisions. I am more focusing on the basic issue of you are the coach and we can't seem to take it all the way home.
Unlike some fans, I am not enamored with his stubbornness. I do not care for his managerial style that often comes off (to me anyway) as borderline apathy. To some extent, not liking his managerial style is a personal issue. Looking at it another way, maybe he just isn't that great.
Take a look at his career numbers:
22 years as a manager. Career .504 average. 3 pennants. 1 World Series title. 8 years with the Tigers. .540 average with the Tigers. 2 pennants with the Tigers. No World Series title with the Tigers.
Are those the numbers of a horrible manager? Absolutely not. Are those the numbers of a manager who is going to bring home a World Series title soon (1 in 22 years so far)? Maybe. More likely not in my opinion.
Obviously, it wasn't realistic, but some people discussed Terry Francona becoming a manager for the Tigers last year: Terry Francona – career .540 average (.574 with Red Sox, .568 with the Indians), 2 World Series titles in 13 years.
How about the beloved Sparky Anderson: 26 years as a manager. Career .545 average. 5 pennants. 3 World Series titles.
I just don't see Leyland as the best option. Do we have a chance of winning a World Series with Leyland as manager? Absolutely. However, I think our chances would increase significantly if we found a better option. I understand that better options do not grow on trees, but there are many players on the Tigers that people thought we had zero chances of getting, but they somehow ended up on the roster.
That's it. That's my rant.