Magglio Ordonez Benching Not All About Performance…

According to the Detroit Free Press, Detroit Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland has benched Magglio Ordonez “indefinitely.” What is going on this year with sluggers being benched? First it was David Ortiz, then it was Garrett Atkins (still benched) and now it is Magglio Ordonez.

Why is Magglio Ordonez being benched you ask? He is hitting .273 which isn’t terrible, but he only has two HR’s and just 22 RBI. On the year he only has 11 extra-base hits and has a pathetic slugging percentage of .343.

Ordonez was benched

Ordonez was benched

How bad has Ordonez been? His .343 slugging percentage is lower than powerhouses Asdrubal Cabrera (.427), Kurt Suzuki (.395) and Coco Crisp (.378). Not bad for the $18MM+ that the Tigers are paying Ordonez this year.

When asked about the benching, Leyland said, “I’m going to get him away from it.” He’s beating himself up. Just let him breathe a little bit and see what happens.”

Sounds quite like the speech Terry Francona gave when he benched David Ortiz earlier in the year. But unlike Ortiz, it doesn’t seem like Leyland plans on putting Ordonez back in the lineup anytime soon.

There is also could be another factor in this benching – Ordonez’s contract. The Tigers have club options for Ordonez in 2010 ($18MM) and 2011 ($15MM). The club option in 2010 is guaranteed if Ordonez has:

  • 135 starts or 540 plate appearances in 2009, or
  • 270 starts or 1,080 plate appearances in 2008-2009

My guess, and it’s just an educated guess, is that the Tigers will do everything they can to prevent Ordonez reach those milestones. $18MM for a 35-year-old player who has declining production is not a good contract, especially in this economy.

All player contract information is curtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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