"Over here, Dontrelle doesn't have to be the guy," Leyland said. "He can just tag along with the other guys. Same with Cabrera. He doesn't have to be the guy."
Could the Tigers have too many good players?
You bet they do. I think we all know what's going to happen here.
Monday, November 3, 2008
By Paul Meyer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Jim Leyland yesterday congratulated Pirates manager John Russell on the Bucs' World Series sweep of the Kansas City Royals.
"I thought they had some real nice pieces last year," the Detroit manager said. "But, fortunately for them, all those pieces crumbled this year."
Leyland, one of three former Pirates managers on the Tigers' staff, is well aware of the injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness enjoyed by the Pirates' few good players.
"I hoped they would do tremendous," Leyland said, "but Ian Snell lost velocity, Tom Gorzelanny's arm fell off, and Jason Bay's 2007 slump continued, and so they ended up flying past us and winning it all."
Detroit suffered a disappointing season in which the offense scored 1,000 runs and Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander emerged as the best starting pitchers in the American League.
"Over here, Jeremy and Justin didn't have to be the guys," Leyland said. "In fact, I specifically asked them not to be the guys. Same with Cabrera. He didn't have to be the guy. But he was. And look what happened to us."
Cabrera hit 35 homers and drove in 155 runs in his first season in the American League.
"There's a fine line between having enough stars and one too many," Leyland said. "We had way too many. We could have used more guys like Jose Bautista and Xavier Nady - you know, guys who are just good enough to not be embarrassing."
Leyland thinks Russell did a solid job in his first year of managing.
"John waited a long time for the opportunity," Leyland said. "He took advantage of it. Jim Leyland had lots of good players. Bobby Cox had good players. Even Tony La Russa had some good players. Russell didn't. If you have bad players, you'll do fine."
Leyland noted that all managers know the game.
"We all know the hit-and-run," Leyland said. "We all know about playing the infield in or back. Now, people get tired of hearing this, but the team with the worst players is going to win. I'm sorry. That's just the way it is.
"If the best players execute against a team of players who aren't very good players, the best players are not going to win."
Leyland sighed. "Unfortunately, we had way too many good players."