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Has Jim Leyland Earned a Contract Extension?

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Now that the Tigers are 30 games into their 2009 schedule, and have a winning record to show for their efforts, Lynn Henning thinks it's about time Jim Leyland got that contract extension.

Any day now it would be no surprise to see the Tigers announce an extension to manager Jim Leyland's contract.

That's because hiring Leyland beyond 2009 is deserved, no matter what Leyland's critics contend.

Leyland's team was tied Monday for first place in the American League Central Division. The Tigers were 17-13 on the season and playing well despite some obvious roster weaknesses.

To me, this feels a bit early. But I guess I've always felt that the All-Star break was an ideal time to address Leyland's contract situation. However, I agree that Leyland's done a nice job so far, working to help the Tigers win games, rather than sit by passively or desperately tinker, as he did last year. So maybe there's no sense in drawing this out.

When Leyland is given that new contract (I think we've just about moved beyond "if," don't you?), I hope we see the same sort of managing from him when his future employment is on the line. I like the Leyland that calls for squeeze plays, pushes his starting pitchers to go longer into games, sits struggling players down regardless of tenure or contract status, and puts his best team on the field.

Maybe that's a bit unfair, as Leyland simply has a better, more versatile roster to work with this year. But as we've seen several Tigers players become complacent with new contracts, I can't help but wonder if the same might apply on the coaching side of the equation, as well.

So what do you think? Has Leyland earned that contract extension? Should the Tigers just go ahead and get the proceedings over with, so this doesn't become an issue later on in the season?