The dueling personality traits of Jim Leyland are on bold display as if he’s replicating the twin personae from the Star Trek episode The Enemy Within where Captain Kirk’s good and bad sides became separated.
Which side of Leyland will win out?
Will it be the smart baseball guy who’s going to do what’s best for the team?
Or will it be the snarky, obnoxious, condescending and obstinate baseball lifer whose entire being exists with an unsaid (or said) “I’m doing it this way; you don’t know nothin’; shut up and leave me alone”?
Even after Cabrera got hit in the face with a ground ball, Leyland is still clinging to this deranged decision to move Cabrera to third base—a position he could barely play when he was playing it regularly.
Once that ball his Cabrera’s face, the opening was there for Leyland to convince Cabrera that it’s not going to work; but they’re still insisting on him playing third base.
How long it’s going to last remains to be seen because Leyland might still be posturing in the hopes that it somehow succeeds. It must be remembered that when Cabrera was last a regular third baseman—in 2008—Leyland reconfigured the entire infield because he was unhappy with his defense and he did it two weeks into the season.
Carlos Guillen had opened the season as the first baseman with Cabrera at third and Leyland switched them almost immediately. That entire season was in disarray as the Tigers were expected to be serious contenders and lost their first 7 games on the way to a disappointing 74-88, 5th place finish and a large part of that was Leyland’s somewhat panicky personnel maneuvers.
So which Leyland will show up after a week or two of Cabrera botching balls at third base? Will he be the old-school baseball guy who refuses to acknowledge he’s wrong even if it’s killing his team? Or will he accept reality and do what must be done by telling Fielder and Cabrera that they’re going to play every day and split time at DH and first base?
The Tigers are lucky that they didn’t lose Cabrera for a significant amount of time after that ball hit him in the face. If they keep putting him at third base, they deserve their fate because they’re being stupid. Plain and simple.