The World Series begins tonight. The Rays, of course, are not participating. Someone who will be taking the field, much to the chagrin of Rays fans, is Pat Burrell. His success with the Giants has left a bitter taste in the mouth's of Rays fans. He was supposed to be the one to pull the Rays' DH position out of the doldrums and into the sunshine. Instead, he seemingly set the position back 30 years.
It's no secret that the Rays haven't received good production from their DH position in quite some time. When the team was a laughingstock it wasn't a glaring issue. As the team has progressed from bottom dweller to two time division champions the lack of stability has become more and more apparent. Let's take a look at the cumulative numbers for the Rays' DH's from 2008-2010:
2008: 645 PA, .246/.322/.428, 24 HR
2009: 639 PA, .244/.337/.404, 21 HR
2010: 640 PA, .238/.322/.391, 17 HR
The main goal of a DH is to hit for power, produce runs, and get on base. Looking at those three seasons, the Rays DHs haven't done any one of those things. The team could have used a "big fat guy who can hit home runs" as Jonah Keri so often puts it. It's amazing how difficult it's been for them to find. They offered a contract to Bobby Abreu, but he turned it down to be able to play the field (in the literal sense) in Anaheim. They thought they found a perfect match in Pat Burrell, but he turned out to be worse than anyone could have imagined. While the team has been willing to shell out money for premium talent, or close to it, the past few years we all know 2011 will be different. The team is cutting payroll and that means a big money bat is obviously out of the question, no matter how much it would help the team. However, if the market is as suppressed as it has been the past few seasons some attractive options could reveal themselves. One of those options could be Magglio Ordonez.
Ordonez is a known quantity who turns 37 this offseason and is coming off of a season ending ankle surgery. Age and injury may seem like a reason to stay away from Ordonez, but those two traits actually work in the Rays' favor. Last season Ordonez made $15million. There's no chance on this earth that he gets that much for 2011, even with Scott Boras as his agent. Here's how Abreu's 2008 season and Ordonez's 2009 and 2010 (I'm using both because Ordonez had roughly a half season's worth of AB's last year) compare:
Abreu: .296/.371/.471 wOBA: .368
Ordonez 2009: .310/.376/.428 wOBA: .356
Ordonez 2010: .303/.378/.474 wOBA: .375
They're not too far off from each other. Ordonez is a few months older than Abreu, making him two years older than Abreu was when he signed his 1yr/$5million deal with Anaheim. The Rays had offered him $7.5 but were rejected. Since 2002 Ordonez's lowest OBP has been .350 and he has hit both left handed (.412 wOBA) and right handed (.376 wOBA) pitching well, so there would be no platooning needed.
It all depends on what the market dictates, but if the Rays feel they can compete for the division crown again in 2011, and with a few breaks its not out of the question, then spending ~$5million on Ordonez could prove to be the best investment they make all winter. Unless, of course, he turns out to be Pat Burrell 2.0.