Dear Tiger Nation,
Buy more Little Caesars Pizzas. Mike Illitch needs every dollar he can get to build a winning ball club.
Overspending and fiscal irresponsibility by the Tigers' front office is casting an ever larger looming shadow over the 2010 season. This is the kind of shadow that leads to baseball teams spending October at home or on golf courses instead of playing meaningful baseball games to win a title.
Stake your hopes on the Tigers having a good playoff run this year. They might not have one next year.
Yes, I know I am being rather defeatist about next year, when there is still much baseball to play this year, but we have to keep the future in mind.
This past year has taught us many things. Foremost among them: Baseball is not recession proof.
Team owner Illitch cannot continue to fund a team payroll close to $140 million. The recession has hit Detroit hard. Attendance is down, the team is hemorrhaging money.
I can nearly guarantee that next year's ball club will not be as good as this year.
Not releasing Magglio Ordonez has continuing repercussions. Not only does he continue to play porous defense this year, but he will earn about 13 percent of the team payroll next year. That will be at the expense of other team building pieces that are just as important.
One of my fellow contributors, Kurt Mensching, makes a very valid point, that Ordonez is still a huge fan favorite. Despite that, loyalty can only carry a team so far, and being loyal to a fault will doom a team to failure.
One of the largest underlying issues with canning Ordonez was the prospect of a grievance from the MLBPA, citing that Ordonez was cut merely to keep him from collecting his paycheck for next year.
The Tigers could have beaten a grievance up until about two weeks ago, on the grounds that his defense was detrimental, and his offense was non-existant. It would have been a sound baseball move, and it would have saved the club $15 million for next year, Ordonez being owed $3 million for his buyout regardless.
The failures of the front office are piling up, along with the truckloads of money that has uselessly been ushered out the door.
The front office ate nearly $14 million this spring to release Gary Sheffield. What makes anyone think they will not do the same next spring to Magglio Ordonez, paying him $18 million to take a walk?
The mistakes of the front office, while expensive, are now starting to become costly.
Follow the money. The outcome from this is cheaper parts to build a team for next year. Part of that result could be the inability to keep the services of Placido Polanco, as one of my fellow writers Johnny Lawrence describes.
Look at the bottom line from that: The Tigers may keep a fan favorite, in the form of used up Ordonez, at the expense of Polanco, who still does his job.
In reality, this is only the tip of the iceberg of what is to come in the offseason. That iceberg is floating in a cold and deep sea of change.
Want to do your part to build the best team possible for next year? Scrape up your pocket change. Buy more pizzas.