Left-handed reliever Jamie Walker was signed to a three year 11.5 million dollar contract by the Baltimore Orioles yesterday. Walker has come a long way since being signed as a minor league free agent by the Tigers in 2002. The 35 year old Walker had his best year this year compiling a 2.81 ERA in 56 innings. He got a pretty hefty contract for a lefty specialist but he's been a pretty steady reliever for the Tigers the last 5 years and will be missed.
Wil Ledezma is now the lone left-hander in the Tigers pen and he might actually be a starting candidate after doing well in that role late last year. Even if he does pitch out of the pen, he will probably not take over walker's role as a specialist. Dave Dombrowski has stated on a couple of occasions that he would seek to sign a left-handed reliever if he failed to sign Walker.
In other news yesterday, Jim Leyland was named American League Manager of the Year. He received 19 of 28 first place votes to finish comfortably ahead of unner-up Ron Gardenhire of the Twins (9 first place votes). Leyland was the third manager, along with Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox to win the award in both the American and National Leagues. He was the first Tiger manager to win the award since Sparky Anderson in 1987.
I have not said much about Leyland this year because I believe strongly that players win and lose ball games. I think that managers tend to receive too much credit/blame for their teams' fortunes. However, by all accounts, Leyland is a good motivator and stabilizing force on the team. It's also hard not to like his down to earth personality. If you are looking for an article which better describes his awesomeness, check out Roar of the Tigers.