Maggs and Clete to platoon

The latest technique to milk productivity from Magglio Ordonez is to platoon him and only give him starts against left handers. Clete Thomas will form the other side of the platoon which means he’ll get the bulk of the starts, especially with the team facing more right handers.

For his career, Ordonez has hit lefties about 12% better than righties (in terms of OPS). That differential is more pronounced this year with an 825 OPS against southpaws versus 611 against right handers. So if there is any advantage Leyland can give to Ordonez, it is probably a lefty only diet.

But where this gets really interesting of course is the impact on the vesting option. As of tonight, Ordonez is 166 plate appearances shy of his vesting option. Through the first 84 games the Tigers have faced 27 lefty starters. At the same rate the Tigers would face 25 more lefty starters this season, and with about 4 PA’s per start Ordonez would come up 60-70 plate appearances short of the vesting option. That is significant enough to not be conspicuous or grievance-able, especially if Thomas or a bat to be named later hits well enough against righties.

As for Ordonez’s take on the situation, it certainly is professional:

“When I produce, I play,” he said.

11 Comments

  1. Walter55

    July 8, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    If Clete and Raburn continue to produce and Guillen comes back healthy I don’t know when Magglio would ever play. Like everyone else I really don’t want that vesting option to kick in. The thought of paying him 18 million next is sickening and there are so many better ways for us to spend it. It is kind of hard to believe he has sucked this bad this year. Also I have never heard for sure answers on this but if we trade Magglio does the vesting option become void and if we just release him does that void the vesting option?

  2. Joel in Seattle

    July 9, 2009 at 2:10 am

    So this is a real platoon, not a Sheffield platoon, right? We Tigers fans need to clarify these things ever since Gary rocked our world last year.

  3. tbliggins

    July 9, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Maggs has never been one of my favorite players, but I have gained a ton of respect for him throughout this year. He has made no excuses for his poor play and has not complained about things like this or the ‘benching’. I really hope that he and Clete can produce in this platoon and that Maggs can be a useful player down the stretch and, hopefully, into the playoffs.

  4. Dave T.

    July 9, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I hope Maggs can turn it around.

    The question is this…If Maggs did not have a vesting option would the Tigers handle this situation any differently?
    If his contract next year was guaranteed…Would they make him go on the DL for 15 days? Or would they just keep putting him out there?

    Tough decisions, but I think even if he was on the roster next year for $18m, I think he still would be getting the platoon.

    • Joel in Seattle

      July 9, 2009 at 12:53 pm

      Good point, Dave. I think he may even be getting more PT due to his vesting option than he would have otherwise. I think the Tigers are handling it carefully so they don’t get into trouble with the Players’ Union and so they don’t make themselves less attractive to other free agents.

    • Mith

      July 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm

      I think if the vesting thing wasn’t there, he’d be playing pretty much every day. Although the power numbers are surprising, the .260 isn’t much worse than pretty much anyone else on the team. I feel like he’s getting singled out and the only reason I can think of for why is the $$$.

      The guy hit .363 and .317 the last 2 seasons, doesn’t he deserve the benefit of the doubt? I’ve seen other teams stick with struggling guys(Ortiz comes to mind) than the Tigers stuck with Maggs.

      • RPS

        July 9, 2009 at 3:42 pm

        His slugging average is the lowest on the team except for Dusty and the wretched abomination that is Josh Anderson. He’s getting on base at a basically acceptable rate. He’s very bad in the field. If his name was Jim Thompson and he was making the minimum, I think he’d be a platoon/fifth outfielder, much like he is right now.

        Also, you can’t go off past performances when major things change. People who know such things are pretty convinced that Magglio’s bat speed is gone. His ground ball percentage is massively up. Unless he’s hiding an injury really, really well, this looks like the end of the road.

        I’m sure he’s not happy about any of this, but kudos to him for handling this behind closed doors and not making a public circus out of it. I sincerely hope that there is a solution out there that is amenable to both Maggs and the team.

  5. Eric Cioe

    July 9, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    They stuck with him more or less full time for a half a season. He’s shown nothing. Batting average be hanged, he’s not even close to effective. He’s literally one of the worst outfield bats in baseball in addition to being one of the worst defenders.

    If it weren’t for the money they were paying him this season, he’d already be cut. All they are doing by platooning him is seeking to maximize what little value he has: as a singles hitter against lefties. He’s horrible. You don’t give a guy benefit of the doubt after half a season of not producing if you’re in a division race and he’s doing his best to singlehandedly lose it for you. Maggs understands he isn’t hitting right now and hasn’t said boo about the vesting option.

  6. jim-mt

    July 9, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    I have never really heard what his wife’s illness was, but that could have had a big effect on his game. I do wish the Tigers would try to have more performance based contracts in the future (Willis, Robertson, Sheff, come to mind).

    • Ryan P.

      July 9, 2009 at 5:39 pm

      Remember, it wasn’t originally a performance based contract, it was a injury-insurance contract. I think most agents are probably leery of HUGE performance incentives, like a $15mil option, probably for this reason.

  7. Coleman

    July 9, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I think it’s one of those not-always-pleasant-to-face-reality situations; I don’t think many of the fans calling for a replacement for Maggs are HAPPY about the situation. As with Dontrelle fans are pulling for him, but at the end of the day pulling for the Tigers to win takes precedence.

    We have been lucky as Tiger fans to have some long stretches of teams full of good-character players, at least as far back as the class acts of Trammel, Whitaker, Fidrych and the like. Which is probably why Sheffield, based mostly on his PAST incidents, grated on people as a “bad-attitude” type. (There are obviously some exceptions to the rule that I’m blocking from memory; and I’m too young to have an opinion on Denny McLain…)