Jim Leyland rants about Tigers bullpen: ‘Who the (expletive) do you want to be the closer?’

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

You've been waiting for a good ol' profane manager rant and Detroit Tigers skipper Jim Leyland wants to be the one to give it to you. Leyland, obviously frustrated with the criticism the Tigers' closer role has gotten, blew off some steam in an expletive-laced rant to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:

"Some fans believe [Jose] Valverde is a Leyland creation," Leyland says. "They think the manager loves him or he wouldn't be here. I don't understand who they think we should be closing with. I'm asking that question, 'Who the (expletive) should I be closing with?' I mean, do they want some rookie kid? I don't understand that.

"Who the (expletive) should I close with? Who do you want me to close with? Who the (expletive) do you want to be the closer? … I don't know what the (expletive) these people want. They just throw stuff out there. People just talk, they don't think about it.

"Sometimes it boggles my mind."

So, Jim, you're telling us that asking for Miguel Cabrera to also be the closer is NOT a valid idea? Fine, noted for the record.

The Tigers closer role has been a mess since baseballs were first thrown this season. Bruce Rondon was handed the closer role in spring training, but blew it and didn't make the opening day roster. The Tigers went to a "bullpen by committee" plan, but eventually signed Jose Valverde and gave him the closer job after a brief minor-league stint.

This incensed many Tigers fans who look at Valverde has a save-blower extraordinaire and meltdown master. He's saved nine games and blown three since joining the Tigers in late April. Overall, the Tigers 'pen has blown nine saves, but the team is still 36-28 and in first place thanks to some of the best starting pitching in baseball. Oh, and that Cabrera guy and his buddy Prince Fielder too.

What's amplified this latest round of Tigers closer hysteria is a Valverde blown save from Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals, in which he soiled a strong start from ace Justin Verlander. The Tigers were up 2-0 until Valverde gave up a ninth-inning homer. The Royals went on to win in 10 innings.

After the game, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan summed up how the Tigers bullpen has been holding back its otherwise stellar team:

"Never is it good when the list of what's right with a bullpen runs two deep and what's wrong hogs the remainder. Coke's ERA jumped to 5.49, Valverde's stuff was, in one scout's eyes, 'flat as Kansas,' and he now has allowed five home runs in his last 5 1/3 innings. Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque, the two best stuff guys in the organization, are at Triple-A."

So, in other words, Jim Leyland was overdue for an expletive or 14. And until you hear otherwise, Jose Valverde is still his expletive-ing closer.

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