The news of Magglio Ordonez’s prolonged absence is certainly devastating on a number of fronts and only compounded by the loss of Carlos Guillen. Already without Brandon Inge for at least a month the Tigers lost a third of their starting lineup in the last week. It changes the outlook for the trade deadline, and may very well change the look of the 2011 team. It also likely puts a significant dent in Miguel Cabrera’s chances for a triple crown.
Ordonez and Guillen will be replaced on the roster with Wil Rhymes and Jeff Larish while Don Kelly, Ryan Raburn, and Ramon Santiago see increased roles. The lineup is more Toledo than Detroit at this point which is tough on a team that already has heavily reliant on rookies. There is only so much depth.
Buyer of Sellers
The Tigers had some holes to fill, be it starting pitching, a lefty reliever, and a little more consistency and offensive pop at both shortstop and catcher. Filling 1-2 of those holes would likely have kept the Tigers in the race deep into September without dramatically impacting the future fortunes of the team.
However the Tigers holes have doubled, and in a hard to replace way. I still think Scott Sizemore can hit at the big league level and he could slide into Guillen’s spot. The loss of Ordonez though is just too much for this team to overcome given the question marks at other positions. With playoff odds that were essentially split with 3 teams already, the Tigers chances of the postseason just got much longer and it may make sense for the Tigers to flip the switch from buyers to sellers.
One of the biggest stories last year was whether or not the Tigers should cut Ordonez to avoid his option vesting. They didn’t and the reaped the benefits of his performance this year (and the burden of his paycheck). There is a $15 million option for next season that now will not automatically vest. The Tigers may have $15 million additional to spend next year, or they may pick it up (which would be an overpayment), or perhaps decline the option and sign Ordonez to a more reasonable 2 year deal.
The business move is of course to decline the option. We’ll see if Mike Ilitch feels the same way though, especially given the fact that Ordonez broke the ankle hustling on a play in a game in which maybe he shouldn’t have even been playing.
The decision to send him home
I don’t think you can blame Gene Lamont for sending Ordonez home. It was just a bad situation. I’m not even sure that he broke it on the slide. Given the way he was running I don’t know that he would have been able to put on the brakes at third base anyways without damaging the ankle. It was unfortunate, but not a bad decision.
Cabrera and the triple crown
One of several real bright spots this season was Miguel Cabrera’s pursuit of the Triple Crown. The odds were long on this one as well just because of the shear difficulty of the feat. Ordonez and his .378 OBP will no longer be in front of Cabrera meaning fewer opportunities for RBI and more opportunities for teams to pitch around Cabrera.