Oct. 5 Jim Leyland pregame interview
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jim Leyland.
Q. Jim is everything fine with Miguel today?
JIM LEYLAND: I think so, he's playing.
Q. May I ask you a follow‑up?
JIM LEYLAND: Sure.
Q. What have your impressions been of Coco Crisp and his power surge at the top of that lineup?
JIM LEYLAND: He's had a huge year. You know what was ironic about that game last night, we went into the game thinking this is one guy we really got to contain. And I think we ended up walking him three times because he's a base stealer, as well. And in a one‑run game, we probably were lucky. We're going to have to keep him off the bases a little bit better if we want to move on. He's been terrific.
Q. Can you talk about how your closer role has involved and Benoit has nailed it down?
JIM LEYLAND: We weren't sure. We had this kid, Rondon that we thought we might give a shot, and he wasn't ready. Then we kind of tinkered around. Coke had done so well in the playoffs last year and we were tinkering with our bullpen quite a bit early in the season, and we brought the Valverde experiment back. And then we said we're going to give the ball to Benoit and that will be it.
He obviously has responded terrific. He's done a terrific job for us.
Q. Did you and the coaching staff spend anytime looking at tapes of Gray or anything special to prepare for him since you haven't seen much of him before?
JIM LEYLAND: The hitting coach was looking at him quite a bit today. I looked at him myself. You know, we got an idea what to expect, but we're not going to be up there hitting.
He's a very aggressive, young pitcher with really good stuff. I mean, if you're just looking at the tape, it looks like his best pitch is probably his curveball. It's really a good one, with tight spin. It's one of the old‑fashioned 12‑to‑6 curveballs, so we will have to wait and see.
He's obviously got a lot of ability and he looks very aggressive and shows no signs of any big league intimidation in any of the outings we have watched. He gets after it pretty good.
Q. What's your take on Parker, you've seen him a bit now.
JIM LEYLAND: He's another guy with good stuff. He commands the strike zone pretty good. At least we've seen him before. To me you can throw everything in the hat because when you get to postseason, there is a reason the teams are in postseason and that's normally because they got good pitching.
So you might as well makeup your mind you're going to see good pitchers every day you go out there. Parker is another one of those guys, he can make it very tough for you. Straily is no different. You're going to see a good pitcher. They're going to put one out there every day and so are we.
Q. Couple of questions on the Jose Iglesias trade. What has he shown you aside from injury and how painful was it to have to get rid of Garcia, a prospect like that?
JIM LEYLAND: Basically we look like we trade a future Tiger shortstop for a long time for a very good outfielder for the Chicago White Sox for a long time. He's a bright kid, instinctive. Probably swings too much like a big man at this time in his career, but I think he will make the adjustment in that.
Obviously his defensive skills are tremendous, maybe a little over‑energetic at times, but he's a keeper and I would expect that he will be a Tiger shortstop for a long time.
I assume Garcia will be successful for the White Sox for a long time, but that's how trades are supposed to work. Somebody is not suppose to get the piece of gold and somebody gets something out of the Crackerjack box, that's not the way it's supposed to work. So it was a good trade for everybody.
Q. Talk about the change in the lineup today. You're using Kelly in the lineup instead of Andy Dirks or Peralta.
JIM LEYLAND: Yeah, Andy Dirks has been struggling, and I don't mean as an outfielder. He almost got that ball last night, and he has been struggling a little bit at the plate. And Kelly is the best defensive outfielder we got, so we figured stay with the defense. We're a pitching team. Stay with Kelly and give Andy Dirks a night off.
I don't know how this is going to play out. At some point you could see Peralta there. We've got to score runs and you have Scherzer and Justin Verlander pitching. I thought it would be important to have a pretty good defender out there, so that's why I went that way, as opposed to playing Peralta tonight. I chose Kelly for the defense, really. He is a good left hander, runs pretty good.
We need to get production and if you can get it by way of a two‑way player, that's great, because if you're getting a good hitter as well as a good defender, then you're getting a good bonus.
Q. Understanding that you didn't see Sanchez before you got him, what do you think has made him blossom since he came to Detroit?
JIM LEYLAND: To be honest with you, I knew nothing about him at all. I think I saw him one time in Spring Training. I knew nothing about him, but our scouts were high on him.
When we first got him, he looked fine but really didn't look out of the ordinary too much. Then as the season went on, I mean, he's got good stuff, throws the ball harder than I thought he would throw it. He has a repertoire of pitches. He can throw anything on any count.
I think this guy has some of the better stuff in the American League, in my opinion. He's been terrific for us. But like I said, I didn't know much about him and sometimes when you're dealing in the other league, you know, we don't get to see them. The American League guys, making a trade for the American League, like Doug Fister, we had seen him so we could give a better report.
I mean, I wasn't involved in the Sanchez thing because I didn't know him. I would like to say I was today, but I can't say that.
Q. Last night Benoit said he thought this team was on the verge of another World Series. Do you like that confidence in your players?
JIM LEYLAND: It's not good for you guys, but I always tell my players that you know what, in all these situations, because of the national media attention, it's probably best to say less. The less said is probably better. Sure I like a confident team. I don't know that you need to go on stage and talk about it, but I like a team that's confident and I think you show that by the way you play.
I thought we responded very good to the atmosphere last night and a lot of that was dictated by the way our pitcher pitched. But we are a confident team. I don't expect that we are anymore confident than the Oakland A's, so I don't like to hear any teams talk about it too much.
I just like to watch 'em go out and play and they usually show their energy and confidence and everything by the way they play. If guys want to talk about it, that's fine, more power to 'em. They're grown men. I don't tell anybody what to say and or not to say. I don't give advice, but I do say there is no sense in fuelling fires. We don't need to do that. We just need to go play.
Q. You know, not much is ever said about the deal that you made with the Yankees and the Diamondbacks a couple of years ago, but it got you two players on your club in Jackson and Scherzer.
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I mean, Lyn is here, but I talk about this a lot. I think what's amazing is that I really believe you have to tip your hat to our general manager.
If you look at our pitching staff right now, 60% of it came from trades. 60% of our staff is trades. Sanchez, Fister, and Scherzer, that's pretty good for a general manager.
Q. On the subject of that rotation, have you ever had one as good as this top to bottom?
JIM LEYLAND: Probably not. Starting rotation?
JIM LEYLAND: No, I don't think so. I would have to say this is the best I've had. I had maybe a better bullpen a couple of places, but starting rotation, this is probably the best.
Q. Jim, you talked about Dusty yesterday and Davy Johnson just retired, Torre, Bobby Cox. Have you ever felt a generation gap between your generation of managers and the newer ones coming in, the fraternity that you talked about yesterday?
JIM LEYLAND: I don't know. I'm smart enough to know I'm old. I enjoy what I do and I think those guys have done very well. Obviously, Jack McKeon is pretty good proof that you can be old and win a World Series.
I think it's a timing thing. I know Jim Campbell who was a long‑time manager of the Detroit Tigers, said you never understand why a team hires a certain manager, why they go for a younger guy or a more veteran guy. You never know why they're picked in some cases, you know?
I guess a lot of it is in some cases if you're rebuilding team with a young team, you might want to go with a different style of manager. I would certainly not be a manager to go somewhere and try to rebuild, you know. I'm just trying to stay above ground right now. I would not be a manager for that at all.
Those guys did great jobs. What's sad is that there is so much pressure up here anymore, and I don't stick my nose in somebody else's business. But if you look at what Dusty did, three, four straight years in the playoffs, he was there every year.
There is just so much pressure up here anymore, you know, I guess because of the trades and the salaries and all that stuff. So it's a little bit different. Davey Johnson has been a great manager, no question about it. Dusty Baker, tremendous manager, and sometimes I guess people feel like they need to turn the page.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.