Mags and Riches

It looks like the Tigers best chances to land a big free agent bat are:

1. Offer Beltran the 10 year, $200 million that Boras is asking for


2. Take a shot at an injured Magglio Ordonez

As much as I’d like to get Beltran, the Tigers won’t be handing out any 10 year deals. As a result, Ordonez is a much more realistic option. The only reason Ordonez doesn’t have a 5 year $60 million dollar contract in hand already is due to concerns about his knees. Last year Ordonez had to undergo knee surgery. Unfortunately a complication called bone marrow edema required a second surgery. His health so far is unknown because agent Scott Boras cancelled a scheduled workout during the winter meetings, which isn’t a good sign.

If the Tigers can work out a creative contract, Ordonez is a risk worth taking. Ordonez’s career numbers are 307/364/525 and he has remained healthy thoughout his career until last year. From 1998-2003 he played in more than 145 games each year. As an outfielder, he is an average fielder.

Ordonez will be 31 next year so some dropoff over the next few years is possible, but he’d still be an upgrade if healthy. Another concern with Ordonez’s production is that he has played in hitter friendly US Cellular field. While he does hit better at home with an OPS of 978, he is still a pretty good hitter on the road with an 895 OPS over the last 3 years.

Because Ordonez was never really known as a speed player, even if he’s slower than before, it isn’t taking away a significant portion of his game. As long as the bat and batting eye are still there, Ordonez will be a valuable player.

The drawbacks are that corner outfield isn’t a pressing need for the Tigers. While a healthy Ordonez would be a clear upgrade over White/Higginson/Monroe the Tigers can get by with what they’ve got. Plus the fact that Higginson’s contract can’t be moved would mean the Tigers would be paying a ton for the right field position. It won’t solve the problems in centerfield, third base, ,or back up catcher.

All that being said, Ordonez is the Tigers best shot at improving their lineup. Other teams are staying away, and if the Tigers are the only bidder willing to offer multiple years that will give them some leverage. The trick is managing the health risk.

Ordonez’s knees can’t be insured. What the Tigers need to do is structure a deal similar to Pudge’s. There was no way that the Tigers would be able to fully insure Rodriguez’s 4 year contract. John Westhoff got creative and had an out for the Tigers if Rodriguez’s back problem flared up. Now I don’t know for sure, but it probably became possible for the Tigers to then insure the rest of Rodriguez. If the Tigers could negotiate a similar out for Magglio’s knees, that reduces the risk and may make the contract insurable. Another tactic could be to offer a one year contract where a second year vests based on games played.

With some creativity to mitigate the risk, Ordonez is worth taking a shot at.

Non baseball stuff
I received season 4 of the Simpsons for Christmas and I’m just amazed at how many of my favorite episodes are in 4. The Monorail, Mr. Plow, Homer skipping church, Whacking Day, the one where Homer gets busted for DOA (or DUI, I always get those mixed up). That’s about as good as it gets.


  1. Ken

    December 30, 2004 at 10:37 am

    I agree with you. As long as the price is reasonable, Mags is a worthwhile pick up. Beltran, I think, is going to get paid way more than he’s worth thanks to his postseason.

    If you compare Beltran and Mags, based on their 162-game averages, it’s no contest.

    Beltran is .284 (he hit .267 last year) with 27 HR, 104 RBI, 113 R and 35 SB. His OPS is .844.

    Mags is .307 with 30 HR, 114 RBI, 101 R and 13 SB. His OPS is .889.

    Of course, Mags isn’t going to steal bases anymore and Beltran gives you good production across the board. But he’s not even a .285 lifetime hitter and last year was the first time he topped 30 HR. Granted, he’s probably just coming into his prime, so that’s a consideration.

    But as long as they don’t do anything stupid with the deal, I would welcome Mags. I’d much prefer rolling the dice with him than giving Beltran a deal that might be very regretable.

  2. Dan

    December 30, 2004 at 12:41 pm

    So you do not think the Tigers should go after Lowe or Millwood? I think they need pitching more than hitting. Both of those guys are still available….

  3. billfer

    December 30, 2004 at 12:56 pm

    Well, I was talking about bats, but I’m against Lowe strongly. He was worse last year than Jason Johnson, and we’re only committed to Johnson for one more year and $4 million. Derek Lowe will require 3-4 years and more than twice that. The only thing Lowe will add to the team is salary.

    Millwood could be okay for a one year deal, or one year with an option. Millwood will be better in Comerica than he was in Philly, but he still isn’t that great. The FA pitcher I’m most interested in is Odalis Perez.

  4. Ken

    December 30, 2004 at 10:47 pm

    I don’t like Lowe either. And I live near Philly and have followed Millwood closely. I had high hopes for him, but since the All-Star break in 2003 he’s been dreadful. And he spit the bit down the stretch in ’03 as the Phils were battling Florida for a playoff spot. I’d rather give the youngsters a chance and shore up the bullpen when it comes to pitching — that’s what killed the Tigers last season.

  5. Justin

    January 3, 2005 at 7:09 pm

    Agreed on Season 4 of the Simpsons. All hail the coming of Conan O’Brien to that show. Can;t wait to pick up Season 5.

    I think Will Carroll said that if Magglio was walking fine the chances are he would be alright to play (sort of an all or nothing type injury from what i gathered). I could dig around for the article if anyone is interested.

    Unfortunately, I think this is the type of risk the Tigers are going to have to take (a la Pudge and even Percival) in order to sign guys in the near future.

    Henning in The News copped a reader suggestion to sign Delgado as DH and move Meat to 3B. That’s risky (or creative, depending on your view), but that’s another type of move the Tigers might have to make. Of course, I read today that Delgado was “insulted” by the 3/30 offer the Mets made, so the Tigers may have to wait until he’s a little more humbled by the lack of offers to sign in Detroit (again ala Pudge).

    Oh, well. My excitement for 2005 is extremely tempered now, and I’ll be happy to watch Bonderman and others develop and wait for the farm system to start spitting out talent.

    Also, Mags with the bat might be equal to Beltran with the bat, but a good CF is worth so much more than an average corner outfielder.

  6. Mark

    January 6, 2005 at 7:23 pm

    Beltran would be much better than Mags. Not only is he entering his prime, but he can steal bases, play gold glove D in center, and get on base. All hard attributes to come by in today’s MLB. Too bad Boras is asking the world and will probably get it. But a 10 year contract would take the Tigers through the best years of his career, since he will be 38 yo at the end of the contract; with the way athletes stay conditioned today that is great investment. Saying that…. too risky for a cash strapped team, that will probably be sold during that time.

    As far as pitching Loiza is now the best option. He is cheaper than Lowe and just as good. Too bad we didn’t get O. Perez. Then trade Maroth for a position player. Thus maintaining 3 lefties in the rotation. Millwood as a ground ball pitcher would not fair well at Comerica and is too expensive.

  7. Jason R.

    January 7, 2005 at 11:43 am

    Re: Justin’s comment – Delgado certainly is asking too much. He’s intriguing, but not for the money he’s looking for.

    I’d love to see Dombo swipe Maggs on a 2-year deal.