Friday, 9 October 2009

Big Papi is dead, all hail Big Papi

David Ortiz is not done….yet.

I spent 5 days in Boston last week and had the distinct pleasure of getting to go to Fenway to watch all 4 games of the Indians series.

Of all the amazing things that stand out about that trip and my trips to the ballpark instead, one eclipses all the others: David Ortiz is still the man in Boston.

I’d have thought that given the as yet still unanswered (at least to anyone’s satisfaction) steroid allegation and the woeful start to 2009 Big Papi endured, that his popularity would have waned in Boston.

No chance! As I watched Sunday’s day game I saw crowds of people in the seats next to me (Left Field Section) cheering as Big Papi went deep, willing him to hit the final 2 bombs that would have propelled the affable Dominican to 30HR and 100RBI for the year.

Still Ortiz finished with 28HR and 99RBI. This is a disastrous year?

Part of the problem with Ortiz is the misconception that, given his high profile status and visibility, he is amongst baseball’s top earners, commanding a Jeter/A-Rod-esqe salary. He does not.

Ortiz earns around $12,000,000 a year from the Sox. Granted this is not chump change, but he is certainly not the best payed player on the team (that distinction goes to J.D. Drew and the less said there the better). Frankly, given A-Rod’s less than stellar performance in 2009 which would you rather have; $30M for 30HR and 100RBI or $12M for 28HR and 99RBI. Whilst A-Rod has added value owing to the fact that he can play in field everyday and hits for a higher average, is it really worth an extra $18M to buy .50 points on a BA and league average 3B defence?

Before this turns into a fluff piece on Ortiz let me stress the purpose of this post. Yes, David Ortiz is still an offensive threat and worthwhile player but David Ortiz should no longer be these things for the Red Sox.

I’ve been arguing most of the year that the only place the Sox could ship Ortiz was Oakland. This was whilst Ortiz was 0-too many to count and the As still had an underperforming Matt Holliday on their roster.

Ortiz to Oakland still works. While the Sox would have to retain a significant portion of Ortiz’s salary the big man would be a good fit on a team that has been crying out for a big power bat since the cruel demise of Eric Chavez and the disappearance of Frank Thomas.

Ortiz is still a big OBP guy (this is Billy Beane’s team we’re talking about), his .332 OBP is nearly 100 points up on his admittedly woeful .238BA. That is a higher OBP that the As 2009 average (.328). At that plus the fact that Ortiz has proven he can still (consistently) produce in the clutch, unlike Oakland’s last ageing slugger acquisition: Jason Giambi.

Ultimately, with the possibility of the Red Sox acquiring Matt Holliday as a free agent appearing once again a possibility it is vital that Theo gets rid of Ortiz, after all the Sox gain very little in replacing Jason Bay with Holliday. The prospect of platooning Bay and a Holliday free from the Coors-Field-Effect murmuring that dogged his achievements in the past at LF and DH is one likely to make all of Red Sox Nation salivate.

So, Ortiz should be an A.

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