Over the course of the franchise, the Tigers have had two BIG free agent pickups. Ever. The first was the pickup of Darrell Evans just prior to the 1984 season, and that one seemed like a bust after a mediocre campaign that season. The following year he won the homerun crown, and he played a big role in Tigers 1987 division title, so it turned out okay.
The second big free agent pickup was last year’s signing of Ivan Rodriguez, who was instrumental in the Tigers 29 game improvement from 2003.
This year, it appears the Tigers are set to make another splash with yet another “undesirable.” Magglio Ordonez had a bum knee that eventually resulted in surgery. He played a grand total of 52 games, but his previous three seasons were extremely consistent. In each season he put up right around a .380 OBP and had an equivalent average that ranged from .300 (2001) to .312 (2002). That low end would have tied him with the equivalent average Pudge put up in 2004, and the 2002 season would have been better then the .305 Carlos Guillen had.
To put it simply, Ordonez can hit. He’s nothing special in the field, but that’s not why we’d be signing him. The main concern is the knee. People will point to the risk we took in signing Pudge, but the difference is that he played an entire season the year before. Ordonez is fresh off his injury.
Baseball Prospectus released their PECOTA projections today. I can’t go into too much detail because it’s only available to subscribers, but they have him missing around a third of the season. However, when he’s in there he’s very good.
My personal opinion is, I’m excited about the move. Part of it has to do with karma. The Tigers are due for a break, and this could be it. If Ordonez can play an entire season like he’s done in the immediate future, the improvement to the team will be dramatic.