The other big announcement today by Jim Leyland was the benching of Magglio Ordonez.
Obviously, Ordonez hasn’t been getting the job done lately. He had a hot May, but that might have been a bit of luck as much as anything. Lately, he’s pretty much earned the nickname “GIDP” because he keeps putting the ball on the ground. If he’s not hitting into a double play, either there were no base runners, or there were two outs. Yesterday, not only was he bad at the plate but he really bungled a fly to the right field wall that the better Tigers outfielders likely would have had. Watching the games alone tells you he’s no good.
For the sabermetric fans out there, Fangraphs tells a nice story. Ordonez ranks behind Josh Anderson and Clete Thomas, as for the value to the team.
ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark mentioned Ordonez in a column today:
The not-so-big O: He has fewer extra-base hits than Joe Thurston. He has a lower slugging percentage than Anderson Hernandez. He has fewer home runs than Brendan Harris. And no, we’re not talking about David Ortiz. We’re talking about another fallen bopper who has somehow stayed off America’s radar screen, Magglio Ordonez (.273 AVG./.343 SLG/2 HR/11 XBH).
“He might be Big Papi’s biggest fan,” said one scout, “because Big Papi has taken all the attention away from him. I’m not sure what happened, but this guy has aged a lot quicker than the norm. I don’t see him getting better. I see him getting worse. I don’t see the ball jumping off his bat at all. He’s up there now, and he’s just content to look for the breaking ball and hit soft line drives the other way. It’s almost like he’s playing hit-and-run every at-bat.”
Given the Tigers have the possibility of owing Ordonez $18M next year if he reaches certain milestones for plate appearances (Billfer has those exact numbers), there’s a lot at play right now. First off, this is the right baseball decision. The Tigers cannot keep playing him when he stymies the offense so much and contributes little to the defense. Second, if he’s really this bad this year due to aging or whatever, letting that large amount of salary kick in next season could really hurt. They have to get this figured out for the good of now and later.
So my only question is, how long is this benching for? I noticed last week Ordonez had three days off in seven. The extra rest did not exactly help him overcome what ails him. Is he going to start off on the bench most nights? Is this just for one night? Is this going to spill into the clubhouse?
There’s a lot of questions still left unanswered.
Update 7:20 p.m.: Steve Kornacki of Booth Newspapers shares a few quotes in his story. This could be several days worth of benching, for one, because everyone is a bit puzzled about the batting slump and Leyland thinks Ordonez needs a few days away from it all. And Ordonez’s take:
“Yeah, it will help to relax and not think too much. Everything is OK in (batting practice) and in the game I try to do too much.”Ordonez was asked if he, at times, was trying to hit two home runs with one swing of the bat to make up for his lack of production.
“Yeah,” he said, “I feel like I am trying to do that sometimes.”