It's time for Tigers to cut ties with little-used, overpriced Higginson


DETROIT - Manager Alan Trammell and the Detroit Tigers' organization have been loyal to Bobby Higginson for far too long.

It is time for Trammell and the Tigers to cut their losses and give Higgy the heave-ho.

Trammell owes it to his team.

Owner Mike Ilitch owes it to the fans. And, much to his chagrin, he owes the recalcitrant Higginson a boatload of money.

Ever since securing a four-year, $35.6 million extension from former general manager Randy Smith in April of 2001, Higginson has been a big bust.

His production has steadily declined.

It was the classic bait-and-switch - the Tigers paid up front for lots of hits and RBIs, and Higginson has never delivered the goods.

He is in his 11th season with Detroit, making him the longest-tenured player on the team.

And Higginson is the highest-paid player, earning a whopping $8.85 million in the final year of his contract.

Since he came aboard in 1995, the Tigers have not had a winning record. Nor have they been to the playoffs.

A onetime fan favorite, Higginson is now the team's fifth outfielder. He rarely leaves the bench.

It's almost as if Higginson has fallen off a cliff.

He is batting just .087, which is light years below the Mendoza line of .200.

Higginson has played in only nine of 25 games. He has two singles and one RBI in 23 at-bats.

Both of his hits came in the second game.

The oft-surly Higginson hasn't as much as sniffed a single in the last month, as his 0-for-18 streak attests.

He would have to improve a little to be in a deep slump.

Simply put, Higginson is not helping the Tigers on the field, or in the clubhouse.

Trammell and Ilitch need to eat the 34-year-old, washed up veteran's contract and send him down the highway.

The sooner, the better.

Higginson did not play in

last night's 5-3 loss to the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. His last action came Sunday.

After more than a decade as the Tigers' starting right fielder, he admits he has had a hard time adjusting to his new role as a benchwarmer/cheerleader.

"I've got to be there to support the team," Higginson said. "As for my role, it's different. I'm still adjusting to it. It's only been a month, so it may take a little while to get used to it."

The Tigers have been trying to push Higgy aside for a few years now, but somehow he has managed to survive.

In the offseason, Detroit signed currently injured slugger Magglio Ordonez to replace Higginson in right.

The Tigers also spent most of the spring shopping Higgy around to other teams, but there were no takers because of his hefty price tag.

The organization even sought Ilitch's permission to release Higginson, which Ilitch granted.

But then Trammell stunned almost everyone by extending Higginson yet another lifeline when the team opened the regular season.

Trammell said he kept his former teammate because of his experience and his left-handed bat.

And he has stuck to the party line ever since, vociferously defending Higginson.

Still, the numbers don't lie.

Higgy can't cut it anymore, at least not in Detroit.

The Tigers should cut him.