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Magglio Ordonez must be benched

After struggling to begin the season due to an ankle injury suffered in 2010, Magglio Ordonez hit the disabled list in May. About a month later, he returned to the team. At that point, I cautioned fans not to look too closely at his season statistics, because it would take awhile to dig out from the hole Ordonez had dug. Give Ordonez a little time to hit like his former self, I said.

It's been a few months now, and Ordonez has not improved. In fact for the past two weeks his stats are actually worse than they were to begin the season. The past month is only slightly better.

First 26 games: .172 average, .226 on-base percentage, .232 slugging average.

Last 26 games: .235 average, .264 on-base percentage, .266 slugging average

Another way of saying the last 26 games is "after the all-star break" by the way. He has two doubles, one home run and five walks. He's also grounded into four double plays in 106 plate appearances. In his first 26 games, he had three doubles, one home run and seven walks.Oh, and he hit into four double plays in 186 plate appearances.

It's clear Ordonez has failed to recapture his former abilities and there is no reason to believe he will in the final six weeks. Yet, manager Jim Leyland happily pencils Ordonez into the three-spot in the lineup day-in and day-out. He has batted third in 24 of the 27 games since the break.

I understand the desire for loyalty. Ordonez was a very important part of the Tigers' turnaround. He hit the home-run heard 'round Michigan in October of 2006. He's a popular player with fans and teammates alike. For all those reasons, I am not calling for him to be designated for assignment. I'd hate to see the story end that way.

But allowing some sort of loyalty to bring down the efforts of 24 other players, countless coaches, team executives and scouts, and the hopes of millions of fans, is beyond ridiculous. Writing Ordonez into the lineup's three-spot daily for any other reason than loyalty borders between insane and stupid. The number three hitter should be the best batter on the team. In Detroit, it's the worst.

Using a sabermetric stat, Ordonez's wRC+ -- weighted runs created adjusted to an average of 100 -- is 58. That puts him above Guillen (51), Brandon Inge (33) and Omir Santos (2), and below every other position player.

Leyland, for his part, tells the media he is not worried about Ordonez. He told Chris Iott of MLive:

"We’ve got a nice complement of players, so I think we’re fine. Magglio’s throwing in his hits. I think there’s certain type pitchers I’ll rest him against and certain type of pitchers I’ll play him against.

"I expect him to contribute. And, yes, I still think he’s capable of doing that."

Sorry Jim, but Ordonez has showed this season that is simply not true. He needs to be rested against most pitchers. True, he had a two-hit game on Saturday and helped kick off the sixth-inning comeback against the Orioles. He also went 1-for-5 on Friday and 0-for-5 on Sunday (seeing just 10 pitches total.) His batting average over the last 7 days is .143 with .136 OBP and .190 slugging.

Anyone in the front office reading this? Tell Leyland to stop it. Like right now. He is costing the team in a tight division race. Tell him to get Ordonez out of his lineups right now.

Start Ryan Raburn in the outfield daily -- hey at least it keeps him out of the infield. Bring up Ben Guez or Clete Thomas from the Mud Hens. At this point, I don't care how you do it. Just please, get Ordonez out of the lineup. He's a shell of his former self, it's sad to watch and it only hurts the team to keep playing him.