Jim Leyland was exactly what the Detroit Tigers needed when they brought him in to manage the club in 2006. He led the Tigers to the World Series in his first season with the team and changed the culture from the moment he walked through the door. Leyland came out of retirement to take advantage of a golden opportunity. His old-school style helped the Tigers win multiple divisional titles and produced accolades such as a Triple Crown and multiple MVP awards.
Leyland laid a solid foundation for the next manager to work on, which often isn’t the case when a coach leaves a team. Usually, a new skipper has to deal with figuring out who belongs where in the lineup and whether or not a player should consider switching positions defensively. They’re often stepping in to a situation that’s less ideal than the one the Tigers’ manager in 2014 will be.
Dave Dombrowski has been one of the Tigers’ greatest assets over the past few seasons. He has added top-rate talent when the Tigers needed to make deals at the deadline on multiple occasions. He knows what the Tigers need and having him in the organization is vital to the Tigers future after Leyland.
They also still have owner Mike Ilitch, whose desire for a championship won’t fade with Leyland’s retirement. Ilitch has given the green light for plenty of spending, and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to do so.
Most importantly, they still have the majority of the lineup returning from a team that won a third consecutive AL Central title in 2013. They still have Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder. The Tigers will miss Leyland in the clubhouse, but his absence shouldn’t hurt them too much in the standings.