By:  Holly Horning

Once a Tiger, always a Tiger. At least that’s how it seems for Detroit’s former managers and coaches.

Trammell and Gibson have found their way back. So have “retired” managers like Jim Leyland. And also former MLB managers Dave Clark and Gene Lamont.

Add to that list now, Lloyd McClendon.

While not an unprecedented move by Detroit, the timing is what is raising fans’ eyebrows. Despite the fact that the Tigers have rehired and retained 3 other former managers, speculation is that Lloyd may be making that drive from Toledo to Detroit this year.

But is there really a master plan to insert Lloyd into a managerial position in Detroit? Let’s look at the reasons for hiring him.

As in the majority of businesses, people most likely to get the job are the ones who have connections with the employer. In this case, McClendon is not only a former employee, but he has ties with Dave Littlefield (who hired him) going back to Pittsburgh. He is also a good friend of “Bull” Durham.

He’s known Al Avila for years and brings with him an already-established level of work experience and communication. He’s a known commodity and will get up to speed more quickly than other candidates, especially important given that Larry Parrish ran Toledo for 15 years. He knows and understands the organization, corporate culture and people. No significant learning curve here.

But Lloyd also has a reputation for handling young talent very well. Perfect for the minor leagues. And given his managerial background, consider his experience with both Pittsburgh and Seattle as “value added.” Who better to manage a AAA team than someone who knows what it takes to make a major league roster?

The Mud Hens finished 2015 in last place and haven’t had a winning record since 2009. Could McClendon possibly see this new job as an opportunity to return the majors down the road if all goes well?

In 7 seasons as a manager, Lloyd had only 1 winning season. He must understand that other managerial jobs will not be forthcoming anytime soon and thus being realistic about his next career move.

Given his managerial record, it’s highly unlikely the Tigers are considering him to replace Brad as manager. If the Front Office had considered him to be a strong candidate, they would have given him the job back in October 2013 instead of hiring a long-shot outsider with no managerial experience.

But maybe, just maybe, Al Avila is also preparing for a worst case scenario in 2016. Ausmus is moving into his lame duck year and it will become apparent halfway through the season whether he will be staying or not. It is a general policy in MLB that GMs will extend a manager’s contract well before the end of the season if they will be retained.

It’s always been my theory that Avila’s decision to retain Brad was primarily based upon establishing his power within the organization and waiting for the right managerial candidate to come along. And this is where McClendon may actually serve an additional purpose.

He could possibly step into an interim managerial position should things go south this year. He’s managed in the Bigs, knows most of the players and could help calm a clubhouse and transition a team should Ausmus leave.

Having options is always a good strategy when situations don’t go as expected. Lloyd could end up being the solution to at least one or more issues Al Avila may have to address this year.

5 thoughts on “LEGENDARY LLOYD LIVES !

  1. In the October 7, 2006 Detroit News, on pages 4t and 5t, there is this big color pic of JV throwing bullpen as other starters and bullpen arms look on (curious if the Tigers still do this.) Take a wild guess who the bullpen coach was in the picture. Maybe back then Lloyd was trying to instill “the Cardinal Way” of doing things.


  2. I believe your observations are spot on! I do not think Lloyd will ever be the Tiger manager. I also think that Brad is on a very short leash. Big Al is still hoping for a Scotty Bowman baseball type to come available. He has taken some great initial steps to get the organization into a positive position to improve.


  3. I commended AA for the roster positions he filled. However, I absolutely think retaining Ausmus was the wrong move that I have voiced previously. Picking LL for Toledo is a huge mistake. He can be the greatest talent developer there is but having him sitting 60 miles south “just in case” sends a terrible message to the 2016 squad.


  4. While with the Tigers I think Lloyd did a pretty good job as a hitting coach, and can now help the youngsters in Toledo. Interim could work in the case, but other than that I do have some concerns as him being a ML manager.


  5. Maybe this is what Lloyd has decided he really wants. There’s less pressure, he’s in the Midwest where he was born, he’s in an organization he knows, and he has a chance to make a difference with young players.


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