DETROIT (97.1 The Ticket) Now that the Detroit Tigers have clinched the AL Central, the big thing to watch is the chase of the Triple Crown by Miguel Cabrera.
This morning Stoney and Bill talked with Manager Jim Leyland on 97.1 The Ticket about Cabrera and his quest to be the first one to win the Triple Crown since 1967. The Tigers and Cabrera will know where they stand by game time Wednesday since Josh Hamilton, who with 41 home runs trails Cabrera by one, plays at 3:35 p.m. against the Oakland A’s.
Stoney asked Leyland if he would play Cabrera tonight. Leyland responded — “What would you do?”
He added: “Prince is gonna DH tonight. I want to get him off his feet for a day, he plays every game and has the longest streak in the major leagues going. I’m gonna make the decision on Cabrera probably at the last minute. I’m gonna watch what goes on — I would never lie about that. I will make this point to you: Whether he plays tonight or does not, anybody that can find a flaw in Miguel Cabrera’s season and would come up with some excuse (like), ‘Well, he didn’t even play the last day,’ that’s foolish in my opinion.
“He has over 600-and-some plate appearances, he just got six hits in a row in these last two days — What do you want the guy to do? There will be somebody that tries to find a flaw. Trust me when I tell you this one. This one I’m not wrong about. There is no flaw in (the) Miguel Cabrera season. I would think most people would say, you know, why play him, he’s done it, tip your hat to the kid about it and move on. The one thing I’m very concerned about is that we’re going to the post-season, which automatically means more media. I’m worried about the pre-post-season press sessions will be more on Miggy winning the MVP than the team in the post- season. I’m gonna have to watch that one a little bit and our PR people are gonna have to do a good job and make sure Miguel can concentrate on the post season.”
The next big topic in the interview — which could actually be bigger than the Triple Crown — was the race for AL MVP between the Angels’ Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera.
When asked about who he thinks should win the award, Leyland said, “Well, that’s a personal preference. Some people like blondes some people like brunettes. That’s just the way it is. I’m not going to try to sway anybody if someone asks me my opinion I’ll give them my opinion. The only thing that upsets me about the MVP thing is the statistical people that want to get so involved with this and want to underestimate RBIs and I can’t figure that out for the life of me. Because as I’ve been saying every night practically with almost every manager in baseball, what about the game tonight? Well, we had a chance , we had some opportunities we couldn’t get a big hit, we couldn’t knock in a big run — Every manager says the same thing and everybody wants to downplay RBIs and to me that’s the most important of all.
“The guys that drive in the runs are the guys that make the money, those are the guys that win you games. I just can’t figure that out.”
Leyland also addressed the fans who’ve publicly come out to say he should be fired.
“People who get nasty, I don’t really appreciate that, but people who think they should make a managerial change, there is nothing wrong with that,” Leyland said. “People say we underachieved, there is nothing wrong with because that was accurate. If you remember right, the one thing I am kind of laughing about I said ‘Look, let’s just wait till the 162 is over and then let’s make the decisions if we under achieved.’
“There are still gonna be guys who say we should have won by 15 games, you’re not going to please everybody. We did what we were supposed to do, we did not underachieve because we won the central division, that is what we were supposed to do. We are going to the post season which is a crap shoot so you’re not going to change people’s minds, so why worry about it.”
Leyland discussed his best and worst moves of the season, saying, “If I did anything good at all, and I guess a lot of people don’t think I did, I stayed steady, I never wavered or panicked. I knew we had a good team and kept telling everyone all year. And I just thought at the end of the day we would be there and we are.
“The biggest mistake I made was basically just a judgment mistake on Ryan Raburn I thought Ryan Raburn would be good enough at second base because of his offense, that it would overcome a little bit of the defensive deficiencies. I made a mistake, it didn’t work out. I thought he would hit 15 to 20 home runs, probably knock in 70 runs, and I thought that would be a really good second baseman for us.”
So did he underestimate Andy Dirks?
“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t think Dirks was necessarily an everyday player and I still don’t think that, (really) no I don’t,” Leyland said. “I’ll tell you what I think you have to remember, something I think that Andy Dirks is a very very good player and is going to be a very good player, but I think he is somewhere between playing every day and platooning some and that’s a lot of respect to Andy Dirks. That’s pretty darn good, but I got to play one lefty against lefties and I play Dirksy most of the time because his stroke is a little shorter, and to be honest Brennan Boesch had had a real tough year.
“We thought he was going to be the guy and I don’t remember anybody saying at the beginning of the year they didn’t like Boesch or think he was good. We love Andy Dirks and he’s playing every day now. To be honest with you, there are some days I wish I had another right-handed hitter to protect him a little bit and to give him a blow against a nasty lefty. ”