Tigers' Ordonez almost set for life

August, 13, 2009
8/13/09
4:46
PM ET
What if you could make an adjustment, just one small adjustment, and save your company $15 million. Would you try really hard to make that adjustment? And what if you didn't try, at all? Would you expect to keep your job?

  Ordonez
I ask these questions because of Magglio Ordonez.

Ordonez will earn $18 million next season if he plays enough this season. If he doesn't, the Tigers can cut him a check for $3 million and bid him a fond adieu. I ran through the math a couple of times earlier this summer, and here's the nut: If the Tigers had platooned Ordonez -- as Jim Leyland said he would do, just one month ago -- Ordonez would not have finished this season with enough starts or plate appeances to trigger the 2010 option. The Tigers would have saved $15 million next season.

But Leyland has not platooned Ordonez. Since Leyland's announcement, the Tigers have played 31 games and Ordonez has started 20 of them. Granted, he's actually hit well during that span, and yes the Tigers might wind up needing nearly every win they can possibly get. But even if we assume that Ordonez was the best choice in those 20 games, how many wins would it have cost the Tigers to bench him in just five or 10 of them?

On paper, the answer is less than one win. Less than one win, to save $15 million. Seems like a deal worth making, to me.

Now, though, it's probably too late. The Tigers have 48 games left, and Ordonez needs only 84 more plate appearances for his 2010 option to vest. If he starts only 30 of the Tigers' remaining games, he's going to get there. And to sit him now, in the midst of a pennant race? After not sitting him when his stats were so lousy, earlier this summer?

If they sit him down now, he'll file a grievance and he'll probably win. Game. Set. Match. There's only one way this can work out well for the Tigers. They have to win the division title and Ordonez has to play reasonably well next season. Otherwise someone should be fired.

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