The Ordonez Kerfuffle

by billfer on June 20, 2009 · 9 comments

in 2009 Season,Managing & Strategy

The Magglio Ordonez benching/non-benching is the story that just keeps on giving. At this point I think everybody except Barack Obama has had their say. Let’s put it all together and see what we can come up with:

Thursday

Jim Leyland announces that Ordonez wouldn’t be starting that night in St. Louis and that he would be out of the starting lineup indefinitely. Headline writers use the term “benched” liberally as it seems that Ordonez is being placed on the bench.


Friday

With a day to digest things, there is much more talk. Scott Boras weighed in as only Scott Boras can weigh in. Unfortunately the Detroit News changed the original article that ran where it was basically a book of quotes about how Magglio’s batting average was still good. Boras vehemently promoted Ordonez’s passable numbers and ignored the poor ones (like those related to hitting for power).

Meanwhile, Jim Leyland came out and said it wasn’t a benching, merely a way to try and get Ordonez going because nothing else they had tried was working.

"Magglio Ordonez is not benched," Leyland said. "What I said was, and what I meant was, that I’m going to get him out of there indefinitely. And what I mean by that is, by Magglio’s own admission, and from what I’ve seen and the coaches have seen, we were kind of beating our head against the wall, all of us.

"I’ve tried [batting him in] the third spot. I’ve tried the fifth spot. I’ve tried the sixth spot. For whatever reason, we just haven’t been able to get him going yet, and that’s also by his own admission."

Jason Beck also had quotes from Ordonez who is clearly frustrated by his performance, but at least he isn’t outwardly upset about the situation:

"We both try hard, the organization, everybody," Ordonez said. "They don’t want me to do bad. I don’t want to do bad."

Asked how he’s handling it himself, Ordonez said, "I’m handling it good. It’s something that I can’t control. I just prepare myself to be ready to play every day.

"I haven’t been hitting like I used to. But, like I said, I’m just going to come every day to the park ready to play. I don’t have control of the lineup. When he chooses me to play, I’ll be ready to play."

Saturday

After Leyland responded to the benching, it was now time for him to respond to comments from Boras. And respond he did:

"The main thing is Magglio and trying to get him right. This is about no other issue than Magglio Ordonez and trying to get him right so that he can contribute the way he feels good about himself. Because by own admission, he’s embarrassed."

"It was total nonsense on the agent’s part that I blindsided Magglio Ordonez," Leyland said. "I’ve had two or three conversations with Magglio Ordonez about this. I’m very respectful of Scott Boras, but I’m not going to listen to that. …

"That’s just unfair. We don’t blindside players here. We don’t not tell players the truth here. We don’t work that way here. And Scott Boras knows that in his heart. This is another grandstanding in the newspaper. That’s the end of that."

Leyland also said that Ordonez may return to the lineup on Tuesday.

Sunday

Actually I have no idea what Sunday will bring. But let’s read what is really happening here:

  • Leyland may not be the best tactical manager. But by all accounts the clubhouse is behind him. The decision to sit or bench Ordonez was likely a difficult one and not one that was done likely.
  • Leyland has also been fairly open about things. I don’t think he pulled the rug out from under Ordonez.
  • Ordonez has never been a trouble maker, at least not in any way that has come to light. His comments on the situation are consistent in this regard. I don’t know if Boras is taking on the role of bad guy here so that Ordonez still appears favorably, or if Boras is just spouting off.  One way to clarify this, and perhaps win back a fan base that has grown increasingly nasty toward Maggs is for him to speak out against what Boras said.
  • Boras is sending a message that he won’t tolerate option year avoidance tactics. Essentially he’s doing his job.
  • Boras has no business dictating who plays and who doesn’t because last I checked he’s not a member of the Tigers organization and the manager doesn’t need to run things by him for approval.
  • Boras does represent first round pick Jacob Turner but this should not be a factor in negotiations because it is his job to represent the best interests of Turner.
  • I wrote about the playing time implications of the benching because I found that to be the most interesting angle. I don’t think that is the Tigers motivation because as I’ve said before they likely knew that the back end of the contract would be challenging at the time it was signed. My guess is that the Tigers would be thrilled to have Ordonez become a force again and earn his option year.
  • Ilitch has a history of taking care of his players. I can’t see that changing in Magglio’s case.
 
 

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David June 21, 2009 at 2:54 am

I agree.

Like you said, Boras is just doing his job and so is DD/Leyland and co. On one hand, it is a lot of money for someone his age, but part of me hopes he comes back strong and goes on a complete tear. IF he’s on, he can hit to all fields and with power, those guys don’t fall off trees.

That backup of third by Figaro was very nice to see. Inge, as well as Cabby, also made several fantastic plays with the glove. And Anderson was quite nice on those infield dodges.

One other thing of note – there were tons, literally TONS, of Brewers fans there. The few I sat by were very knowledgeable and friendly. Just wanted to point that out. :)

Walter55 June 21, 2009 at 9:19 am

He will get another chance to produce but if he continues to struggle they will either bench him again or release him. Does anyone know if we trade him before he reaches either hi PAs or Games started and he reaches those for another team are they responsible for his salary next year or if he is traded before they are reached does that void out the option automatically.

Kathy June 21, 2009 at 10:18 am

This isn’t for sure but Billfer or someone else can give you the facts. I believe if they trade him they can make different deals such as paying a portion of his salary (this year’s) if that is what the other team is asking for. Or they could do a straight up trade for several although if Maggs doesn’t start to get his power back, no one will want him. I think the other team would be responsible for next year’s contract although maybe they can renegotiate. Boras wouldn’t like that. So, how close am I with the facts. Way off or kinda close? Somebody?

Oh, the other thing. I don’t think Maggs age is what’s holding him down. Maybe a little, but it’s something else. Sheff is 40 and he’s doing real good for the Mets. I love Maggs and sure hope he can start driving the ball.

Chris in Dallas June 21, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Nice use of ‘kerfuffle’, billfer.

billfer June 21, 2009 at 7:13 pm

It needs to be used more.

Christy Hammond June 23, 2009 at 9:49 am

I know I’m the Red Wings expert and would never claim to be an expert when it comes to the Tigers. That being said, I feel like Leyland has taken a page of Wings’ GM Ken Holland’s playbook.

This past season, Holland gave goaltender Chris Osgood a ten-day mental break during the regular season (aka benched him) because Ozzie was struggling mightily in net. He played better upon his return and went on to be one of the leading Conn Smythe candidates in the Stanley Cup Finals.

I’m not saying Ordonez will have the same response to this benching, but I just found the similarities interesting since it seems that both Ozzie and Ordonez are team guys and don’t cause any problems in the locker room.

Anson June 23, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Interesting perspective, we can only hope that Maggs has a similar reaction to Ozzie and get back on his normal all-star pace. Although I think the between their two positions and sports is a strong one. Anyway thanks for putting together the Wings site its really great.

Andre in Chi June 23, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Hope you’re right Christy. The one thing that bothers me is that Maggs’ age might be much more of a factor in this, i.e. Ozzie isn’t that “old” for a goalie. It would be one thing if Ordonez was losing the power but keeping the average, but that’s dipped too. Either way, hope the break works in his case too.

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