Tigers lose right fielder, gain $15M

This is really bad news for the Tigers' front office ...

... but it's great news for the Tigers' accountants, because the moment Ordonez' ankle snapped they removed $15 million from their list of 2011 payroll obligations.

As you might recall, a year ago when Ordonez wasn't playing well, I (and a bunch of other like-minded figure filberts) suggested that the Tigers had two reasons to platoon Ordonez. One, (again) he wasn't playing well. And two, if he got X amount of playing time, his 2010 option would vest, costing the Tigers $15 million.

They didn't listen to me. I think Ordonez might have been platooned for like half a week. The option vested. But he did play well in the second half and the Tigers almost got into the postseason, so you can't precisely argue that they made the wrong decision (though I still don't know that a platoon would have kept them from contending).

Anyway, same situation this year except Ordonez has played well. He's not the MVP candidate he was in 2007, but he's been as good as he was in 2008.

If you were a general manager, would you want the 2007/9 version of Magglio Ordonez for $15 million. It's more debatable than you might think. Depends on where your team is, and what sort of corner outfielders and DH-types you've got. But considering that Ordonez turns 37 next winter, and that the price of veteran hitters seems to have been trending downward in recent years ... No, you probably wouldn't pay Magglio Ordonez $15 million next year if you didn't have to.

Well, now the Tigers don't have to. For Ordonez' 2011 option to vest, he needed 135 starts or 540 plate appearances this season or 270 starts or 1,080 plate appearances in 2009-2010. Well, unless Ordonez' ankle injury has been badly misdiagnosed, all four of those targets are now well out of reach.

Which, I hope you'll pardon me for mentioning (again), is really good for the bottom line in 2011.

But it's really lousy for the standings in 2010. I don't have any of my prospect books handy, but I'm looking at the Tigers' roster and I'm seeing nobody who can come anywhere close to matching Ordonez' production. Ryan Raburn? Don Kelly? Friendly Ghost Wells? Jeffs Larish and Frazier?

Leyland might be able to mix and match and avert a disaster in that spot, but the Tigers already need almost everything to go right, to beat out the White Sox and the Twins. And this just went really, really wrong.