Big League Stew - MLB

Temperatures here in the Midwest are slumming it around zero. To warm up, Michiganders might want to head to the Detroit Tigers winter caravan, where Jim Leyland's chair is as warm as any hearth.

Hotter than any other in baseball, really.

From the AP:

"My tail's on the line, [GM Dave Dombrowski's] on the line," Leyland said Thursday at Comerica Park as the team started its winter tour across the state, a few weeks before spring training. "We all know that."

That Leyland is already under the microscope in January doesn't come as a big surprise. This is the last year of his contract, the Tigers haven't been back to the playoffs since the World Series year in 2006 and the concurrent expiration of Dombroski's contract gives owner Mike Illitch a good pivot point to go another direction. All eyes will be on Leyland as he leads the Tigers against the always-tough Minnesota Twins and the well-stocked Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.

But while Leyland's seat is warmest and many other managers are either new or coming off recent successes, there are a few other jobs to keep an eye on in 2011:

Jim Riggleman, Washington Nationals: Riggs is back for another go-round after a disappointing 2010, but that option for 2012 won't exercise itself. 

Bob Geren, Oakland Athletics: GM Billy Beane exercised Geren's 2011 option last fall and said that a young A's team needed a steady hand. But will Beane still feel the same way about an extension for Geren if Oakland doesn't make a run at unseating the Rangers in the AL West?

Ozzie Guillen, Chicago White Sox: It's hard to imagine Jerry Reinsdorf firing his "son" with one year remaining on his contract. But with the Sox owner pushing all his chips in on 2011 and Guillen's kid producing a lot of off-field baggage, the message on the South Side seems clear: It's AL Central title or bust.  

Brad Mills(notes), Houston Astros: Mills went 76-86 in his debut season at Minute Maid Park and was rewarded with an extension through 2012 as well as an option for 2013. But with Drayton McLane posting the 'Stros for sale, who can forecast the future plans of the new buyer?

Mike Quade, Chicago Cubs: Hey, didn't he just take this job? Of course he did. And while he'll likely get a fair shot at Wrigley Field, his two-year contract and relatively cheap price makes me wonder what the Ricketts family might do if things head south. 

Joe Girardi, New York Yankees: The Yankees skip just signed a three-year extension, but we all know that only guarantees him a nice and expensive parachute should the Yankees fall short of the playoffs this season. 

Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels: Heh, only kidding. The Angels might be set up for a disappointing year, but the Halos manager-for-life has a contract that runs through 2018.

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