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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tigers extend contracts for Leyland, front office

The 'lame duck' status has been lifted.

With both GM and president Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland entering the final year of their contracts in 2011, this year had a "win-or-else" feel to it all along for the Detroit Tigers' organization.

That threat — real or inferred — was lifted Monday, when the organization announced contract extensions for its two most visible faces, giving Dombrowski a four-year extension, through 2015, and upping Leyland one more year.

“Dave has built a solid foundation for this organization and assembled competitive teams that give us a chance to win year in and year out. We have a lot of confidence in his continued leadership of the Detroit Tigers,” owner Mike Ilitch said in a press release. “I am pleased Dave has agreed to continue to lead our organization.”

The owner also acknowledged the leadership of Leyland, who took the Tigers to a World Series in his first season in Motown, the franchise's first trip to the postseason in 19 years, and the first fall classic appearance in 22. The Tigers haven't been back since, however, despite a payroll amongst the highest in baseball. Most observers figured there would be a housecleaning if they didn't get to the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, at bare minimum among the coaching staff.

“I know Jim shares our desire to deliver a winner. We’re pleased to have him continue leading the Detroit Tigers on the field,” Ilitch said.

While extensions were also granted to all of Dombrowski's chief lieutenants — vice presidents Al Avila, David Chadd, Scott Reid and John Westoff — Leyland's crew does not get that same added security. While the Tigers currently have the second-largest divisional lead in Major League Baseball, there still could be an overhaul if the team does not make the playoffs.

The coaching staff already had one change made midseason, when the Tigers let pitching coach Rick Knapp go just before the All-Star break.

Still, Leyland has said he doesn't mind a year-to-year contract basis, to make sure he doesn't get himself in a situation like he did in Colorado, where he lost the desire to manage. So far, that hasn't happened here.

“I want to thank Mr. Ilitch and Dave Dombrowski for the support and confidence they have shown in me and I look forward to managing the Detroit Tigers in 2012," the manager said in a press release of his own. "Also, my many thanks go out to generations of Tigers fans who have supported the Tigers through the good times as well as the tough times. I’m proud to take the responsibility to assure Mr. Ilitch, Dave and our many fans that we will never fall short of doing everything we can to maintain the pride of our organization and our fans.”

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