Dave Dombrowski likely had a lot of sleepless nights over the past few months worrying about a certain $18 million contract waiting to vest. Stuck between Mike Ilitch’s interest in winning a World Series crown and having a trim budget, Dombrowski teetered a fine line that could have also drawn the Tigers into hot water with agent Scott Boras. Since Boras’ clients have dotted the Tigers lineup recently along with Boras’ overextension into the draft, the Tigers knew they had to avoid at all costs any bad air with baseball’s top driving force. Caught in the middle, seemed to be a Tiger stuck in family troubles and mired in a hitting slump.
It is clearly more than a coincidence that Magglio Ordonez had numbers tremendously plummet from a 2007 season that was from another world. When Ordonez first signed with the Tigers, plenty of rumors had swirled that his game had left him behind and that no great production was in his future. Thank goodness for Tigers fans, the pundits were well wrong and one certain chilly evening in 2006 may leave an everlasting memory in the minds of Tigers fans.
Magglio’s contract comes from a time that Tigers fans find hard to recognize in 2009. When Ordonez first signed, the Tigers were bringing in players like Rondell White and Fernando Vina to a team that was simply looking for credibility. Miguel Tejada, Carl Pavano and Rich Aurilia all turned down allegedly higher offers from the Tigers to go elsewhere. It was imperative that the Tigers had to gamble on players like Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez with incentive-laden contracts to their injury hampered bodies.
Now, even through all he has gone through in 2009, Ordonez is hitting at a .350 clip since the All-Star break. His production has been very similar to that of Placido Polanco, where his singles through openings in the infield have been his biggest weapon. In the last eight games in which he’s started, Magglio has averaged two hits a game, while getting a hit in every game. Whether his performance is worth $18 million is highly questionable, his importance to this team in September and October is insurmountable.