Detroit Tigers Dissector: Deadline Deals and Does Still Magglio Fit?

Johnny LawrenceCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2009

Welcome to Rudy Dominick & Johnny Lawrence's Week 13 installment of Detroit Tigers information and analysis. 

Each Thursday, we will delve into all things Tigers. Read and digest, or skim and spit out our insightful banter.

Keep An Eye On

Robbie Weinhardt, Relief Pitcher—Erie Sea Wolves (AA)

(Season @ Single-A Lakeland)

1-0, 31.2 IP, 24 H, 30 K, 0.85 ERA.

Drive-By Argument:  What is Detroit's No. 1 Priority Come Trading Deadline?

LAWRENCE:  At the top of the Tigers' list should be a speedy outfielder to replace soon-to-be-chopped Magglio Ordonez.

Outside of Josh Anderson, who manager Jim Leyland refuses to play, there is no true speed merchant pedaling around the bases for the Tigers.  Curtis Granderson has excellent wheels, but they are underutilized because of his equally impressive power.

Another burner would give Detroit a Tampa Rays-type feel to the offense—a bunting threat who could manufacture runs and steal bases.  With a more diversified offense, the Tigers would have the capability of stealing or slugging their way home.

Unlike with power, speed never goes into a slump and Detroit could handcuff the opposing defense with a longer list of threats.

DOMINICK:  Simply put, pitching wins championships.

With Detroit's rotation instability, the fourth and fifth starting spots need to be addressed immediately.  Detroit can not rely on Galarraga, Robertson, and Willis to provide any stability for the second half.  A trade needs to be made.

The lack of prospects and high salaries of underproducing veterans Ordonez and Carlos Guillen throw a wrench into the gears.

One way around this scenario is to trade Polanco and promote Scott Sizemore or give Ramon Santiago a chance to play everyday.  Detroit may be able to reel in a quality pitcher for the veteran .303 hitter. 

Since this isn't the National League, I do not view the speed issue as a pressing matter.

Detroit could use another power bat to protect Miguel Cabrera, but this need is not as desperate as solidifying the staff.  Besides, the return of Marcus Thames has already provided dividends.  Inserting Adam Dunn would not be much of an upgrade; it seems he's feast or famine in the home run/strikeout department.

A Right Field Dilemma

Discounting the San Diego Padres, Detroit right fielders have been the least productive in all of baseball.

Through 78 Games:  .223 BA, 66-for-296, 7 HR, 29 RBI, .296 OBP, .328 SLG.

In each of the above categories, Tiger players rank anywhere from 28th to last among the 30 Major League teams.  Not listed in the grouping, they rank last in doubles (8) and second-to-last in total bases (97).

How much longer can Detroit continue to trot out Ordonez?  The primary right fielder and fan favorite's numbers have dropped to career lows on all fronts.  Hitting at a .260 clip with three measly homers, the lack of production from the position is costing the team wins.

Sitting atop the AL Central, Detroit can ill afford to give games away.

Maggs will trigger an $18-million two-year extension if he plays 135 games or reaches 540 at-bats.  A recent four-game benching notified Tiger fans that management would not stand idle.

With the postseason in their sights, Detroit simply can not pay one declining player the salary of three or four productive players while the rotation and bullpen are laced with questions. 

Ordonez received half the season to work out his kinks, but he has continued to regress.

The 2006 hero will forever be remembered for his homer off former A's closer Huston Street that launched the Tigers into the World Series.  He followed this miracle performance with an MVP-type campaign in 2007 when he batted .363 with 28 homers and 139 runs batted in.

But the White Sox and Twins are closing in, and a sense of urgency hangs over this valued spot.

His range in the field is non-existent, while his arm leaves much to be desired.  If his bat is only half of what it used to be, General Manager Dave Dombrowski may be forced to trade or release Ordonez.  In-house options Josh Anderson, Ryan Raburn, Marcus Thames, and Clete Thomas lay in waiting until a decision is made.

If Detroit prefers adding new blood to the roster, names such as Matt Holliday, Ryan Spilborghs, Josh Willingham come to mind.  Recent rumors suggest Holliday may head to St Louis for Ryan Ludwick and others, but he would be a welcomed addition to a revamped Tiger outfield.  Unfortunately for Dombrowski, Oakland would ask for a king's ransom in return.

Whether or not the Tigers decide to pursue other options, few will support holding onto an $18-million bag for a heavy-footed singles hitter.

Favorable Matchups

July 3-5: DET Magglio Ordonez vs. MIN Pitching (.325, 198-for-610, 34 HR, 124 RBI).

July 3-5: DET Fernando Rodney vs. MIN Michael Cuddyer (.091, 1-for-11, 0 HR, 4 K).

July 5: DET Rick Porcello vs. MIN Batting (0.00, 7 IP, 4 H, 3 K).

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