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How Do You Replace Magglio Ordonez?


Maggs is done for the year, maybe for his career. John Verburg has explained the ramifications in enough detail that I don’t feel the need to do that here. SO… The second question is what will become of Magglio Ordonez – a question I won’t attempt to get into here. The first question, in the here-and-now of the ALCS, is what the Tigers do with their outfield to fill the hole left by one of their better right-handed bats.

Tigers management will reportedly be discussing possible roster options later today – with no real rush due to the postponement of game 2 due to rain. Those options don’t seem too great. I’ll be the first to admit that my understanding of the intricacies of playoff roster eligibility may not be up to snuff – I’m just going from Billfer’s 2009 explanation at Tigers Weblog. What it sounds like is that if a player is going to fill in for an injured member of the playoff roster there is no restriction on the roster status of that player as of the end of the regular season (they need not even be on the 40, though they would need to be added to the 40) but they would have to play the same position as the injured player.

That last clause could be the most relevant (if it is accurate)… the Tigers still have four outfielders on the playoff roster even with the losses of Young and Ordonez, so they aren’t going to lack bodies. With this rainout the two teams will be playing four consecutive days so perhaps another situational reliever like Pauley might be better than a bat.

If either Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch or even Carlos Guillen is healthy enough to pinch hit maybe the Tigers could add one of those three. Seeing Wilson Betemit come to the plate in clutch situations is starting to give me reflux.

That wouldn’t fix the biggest problem that Ordonez’ absence creates, of course. The Tigers are going to be seeing a lot of left-handed pitching, particularly in the first five innings, and while they might both be good on defense Kelly and Dirks aren’t likely to be any help at building leads. I know the player I would most like to see on the roster right now, unfortunately Dave Dombrowski in his infinite wisdom saw fit to take Casper Wells from me, so we’re left to pick through what is left in Toledo.

The Mud Hens have used a bunch of outfielders this season who weren’t quite good enough to earn PT in the bigs (like Dirks was). Unfortunately (and I seem to be using that word a lot) too many of them are lefties. Anybody who gets the call at this point is someone we can safely say will not have expecting it or preparing for it. The old rule if you’re going to put someone abruptly on the biggest stage in the highest pressure situations is to rely on veteran presence. Timo Perez would have been a decent option – but, he hits left-handed and can’t hit lefties at all. Clete Thomas has seen quite a bit of the majors, but he too hits left-handed. Same for Scott Thorman, etc… The outfielder I’m personally most excited about – on-base machine Jamie Johnson – is also a lefty with big splits. Same for other youngsters with hot bats in 2011 such as Deik Scram and Justin Henry (if you’d rather have a rookie who made a deal with the devil than a vet).

John may be supportive of adding Thomas, but to me it seems like he adds nothing that Don Kelly and Andy Dirks don’t already bring to the roster. Speed, defense and a mediocre left-handed bat. Don Kelly has monopolized that niche so far in the playoffs such that Leyland hasn’t even seen the need to put Dirks to use – and if a second Kelly isn’t needed, what do we want with a third? We’re probably better off making a change to the 40 than we are going with a subpar option already on it. In my opinion the only reason to want an outfielder at all is to get a guy who can start games against lefties just like Ordonez would have. And that leaves us with only two plausible options: Ben Guez and Ryan Strieby. Both would be true rookies, the closest either has come to the bigs is spring training. Offensively, since Strieby has never really regained the stroke he had as the Tigers top hitting prospect in 2009 before his wrist injury, the two seem roughly equivalent – more walks and bombs from Strieby, more gap hits and speed from Guez. If the need to add a player that plays the same position is strict, that could be a problem with Strieby – since while he has played outfield in the past he spent the entire 2011 season at first and DH. When it comes to defense, of course there is no contest between Guez and “converted first baseman” Strieby. Calling up a true rookie to see his first big-league pitch in the playoffs seems like a recipe for disaster – but it’s also the sort of thing that makes legends. I like my playoff baseball epic. If it was my call, one of these two guys would be starting in the nine hole tomorrow night.