Signs, Strengthens Tigers
signing of Ordonez sent many messages throughout the Tigers’
organization. They first made a statement showing that they want
to compete and are willing to spend money. It was also made abundantly
clear that Bobby Higginson’s days as a starting outfielder
may be over. But the most important message was that the Tigers
are clearly a much better team than they were last year.
Magglio Ordonez was introduced
on Monday as the newest member of the Tigers organization. After
the team doctors cleared his knee for duty, and the ink on the contract
was dry, he was talked about immediately as the power hitter the
Tigers had been after. Since 1999, Ordonez has hit over .300 in
five of six seasons. He consistently put up 100 RBIs and 30 homeruns.
He’s a strong gap hitter, and had he not been out with a knee
problem, he would have repeated that same performance last season.
Doctors for the Tigers
believe the knee condition, known as osteochondritis, could have
been misdiagnosed. There is a theory that what he experienced could
have been as simple as a tear. Either way, the Tigers have a way
out of the contract after the 2005 season. If Ordonez has recurring
osteochondritis, they can opt out.
Ordonez adds depth as
well as questions to the outfield. “These things have a way
of working themselves out,” said Manager Alan Trammell. Ordonez
will man right field. Alex Sanchez will man center field. The question
right now is who will man left field? Higginson? Monroe? White?
All are candidates for the job, but all come with liabilities.
Monroe is at the point
in his career where he can no longer be considered a rookie. The
only problem is he’s also at that point where he can’t
be considered a veteran. Monroe has a good bat. He has moderate
speed and sees the ball well in the field. His one downside is his
accuracy in outfield assists. With another year under his belt,
this could be one of those things Trammell mentioned would work
Rondell White is a terrific
hitter. He sees the ball well and has a good arm, but he’s
very slow. With the size of Comerica Park’s outfield, he might
not be the right fit. If he can prove he belongs there, he will
add depth in hitting.
Bobby Higginson is on
the downside of a dismal career. A career that started off on a
hall of fame mark has turned into the career of a bum. Higginson
sees the field very well. He has the speed to cover the large land
mass and has a very accurate, strong arm. His problem is at the
plate. He’s lost his edge in recent years. At times it doesn’t
look like he could buy a hit. Hit stance is inconsistent, which
is the main stronghold on his ability to hit at a high level. A
healthy, well hitting Higginson could be just what the Tigers need.
Is it too late for Higginson to bounce back?
Depth is a key part of
championship teams. The Tigers certainly have plenty of that in
the outfield. In the infield, they have less depth, but they also
have solidity in their positions. With Inge and Infante starting
off the season in their positions, and Inge being a former All-American
college short stop, the Tigers’ infield should be in good
shape. Guillen will continue to grow as a player and prove that
he’s the real deal. Pena will need a breakout season, which
a lot of experts are predicting, or else he could see himself replaced
by Dmitri Young, the team’s DH. Remember the depth in the
outfield? White might make a good DH.
We haven’t even
talked about pitching yet. I’ll save that for next week. I
will say that with Urbina setting up most of the season for the
2003 Marlins helped them get to the World Series. Also, don’t
forget Troy Percival deserved to be named the 2002 World Series
MVP, even though he wasn’t.
The Ordonez signing is
a key signing for the Tigers. It will add depth and solidity to
the outfield. It will bring true clean-up power hitting to the line
up. It will put another threat in the already well versed Tigers
batting lineup. Maybe this is the year the Tigers contend for the
Central Division title.
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