It’s best to take what a manager says in January and pretty much ignore it. Because of that, when Jim Leyland insists that Miguel Cabrera is going to move to third base—his tone signifying no ifs ands or buts—you should nod politely and expect it to be proved as “baseball”.
That’s not a lie.
Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four of the episode in which teammate Mike Marshall received two different stories regarding his demotion to the minors from the manager and GM—both of them nonsense. Bouton explained Marshall’s view of this in the following line:
Now, some people would call that a contradiction. Others might call it a lie. Mike Marshall called it baseball.
Is Leyland “lying” or is he giving Cabrera time to get used to the idea of sharing first base and DHing before he has to report to spring training? Will he give the player a chance to lose a few pounds and have a look at him at the position in March before bowing to the inevitable reality and figuring something else out?
Initially, I felt that was the case, but Leyland is insisting that Cabrera’s going to play third.
Anyone questioning him on this decision will be subject to Leyland’s cigarette-ravaged voice in an extended, “I’m a baseball guy and you’re a dumb writer” tirade. With Leyland being so adamant that Cabrera’s going to third base, Tigers fans should be concerned that Leyland’s going to ignore his eyes and the entreaties of his pitchers and put Cabrera at third base for the sake of being contrary.
That’s not managing. That’s being arrogant and difficult for no reason other than ego and it’s going to hurt the team if he follows through on it.
I still don’t think Leyland will do it, but when listening to the rhetoric and considering the involvement of his “principles” of saying something and sticking to it, I’m not so sure.
But principles are floating just like Marshall’s interpretation of lies.
It’s not going back on them to accept that Cabrera can’t play third and to react accordingly.