Thursday, April 8, 2010

Should We Feel Sorry for David Ortiz?

The situation up here is that David Ortiz is allegedly being judged (and unfavorably so) over eleven at-bats. They are calling for his benching, specifically against left-handed pitchers, because they have Mike Lowell sitting and rotting on the bench. Of course, the ultimate player's manager Terry Francona has stuck with Ortiz against lefties in the interest of making the player feel like he is not being threatened for his job. Therefore, at least for the first several games of the season, there will be no pinch hitting. And there will be no starting of Lowell against lefties, whom he has hit .301, and .318 over the past two seasons. Instead they will truck out Ortiz, who has bit, I mean, hit .212 and .221 against lefties the last two seasons.

The extra hit every ten at-bats is not important for this team where hits are few and far between, because the main priority in managing a baseball team is making everybody happy, not trying to win baseball games. Maybe, contrary to popular belief, Ortiz grew up in the United States in the 1990s, where everyone got a trophy for showing up and 15 years later feels an inflated sense of entitlement and self-worth.

Upon his expletive-ridden rant two nights ago regarding the fact that fans and media want to see him platooned with Lowell and being pinch hit for, I realized that Ortiz doesn't understand a few things:

1. It is NOT about three, seven, or eleven at-bats. It's about the entire body of work since the end of the 2007 season. Ortiz has not been the same for a long time, and while I pounded the drum on his behalf throughout 2007 when he hit about .320, 2008 and beyond are clear indications that Ortiz is not the same Ortiz who was irresponsible with his use of vitamins and supplements and crushed bombs in 2003-2006. Anyone who thinks that the anti-Ortiz sentiment has anything to do with the last eleven at-bats, or even his spring training at-bats, is delusional. Including the player.
2. The player's playing time would not be reduced by that much. By being the primary guy against righties, Ortiz will still get 70% of the at-bats from the DH spot. He inaccurately thinks people are overreacting over 11 at-bats? He's overreacting about 200 at-bats!

Also worth mentioning is that David Ortiz has been here before. Ortiz has been in a situation where he was pigeonholed into a platoon 1B/DH type, where he hit against righties and didn't play against lefties. This was in 2002 with Minnesota. And you know what? He wasn't bad. His righty numbers were .299 with an OPS over .900 and on pace for over 30 home runs over the course of a full season of at-bats. This was amid injury struggles as well. But this is not a new situation for David Ortiz. Certainly not an ideal situation, but when you're 34 in Dominican years, what do you expect? Guy had a great run at it for five full seasons. And nothing (but steroid allegations) can take anything away from that.

Look, I understand that Ortiz was uncomfortable with his role in Minnesota during those days--probably so uncomfortable that he became desperate and turned to irresponsibility with vitamins and supplements starting in 2003. But once he said he wanted to "bang" players who got busted for drugs (n.h.) for a year, he sealed his fate. It's time for Ortiz to turn back into a pumpkin. It happens when you're old. But it's not like Ortiz is an unproductive player as a pumpkin. The guy just has to start realizing that his manager is failing to do his job if he continues to be a social worker. His manager should be trying to win baseball games. And that means Lowell has to be in that lineup.

And the bottom line is, we should not be feeling sorry for David Ortiz. Again, he had five great steroid-fueled years. And he's still going to get 350-400 at bats at the very least. We, including the player, should all take a step back and start thinking rationally here.

15 comments:

from the bronx said...

not sure how this question could even be asked. the man used steroids to help defraud/steal millions upon millions of dollars from the red sox, when he was caught he was evasive and told lies, and now he's behaving like the self-entitled, over-indulged brat that he is and complaining that people want to bench him because he is a shell of the player he once was.

if boston fans weren't so blinded by his (chemically enhanced) role on two world series championship teams, they would be outraged by the very mention of his name.

from the bronx said...

one more thing... my position on the steroids issues is pretty well established at this point, but i thought it worth adding that i feel EXACTLY the same way about A-Rod, Pettitte, Clemens and all other yankees who did the same thing. whatever rationalizations they come up with, they all did the same thing: steal money from fans and owners. they should not be celebrated.

Anonymous said...

DV

There's no question that the Sox should platoon Ortiz and Lowell at DH going with lefty/right match-ups as well as career numbers against certain hitters. It only makes sense. As you mentioned, this is not a small sample size we're talking about here--it's more like a year and a half right now. Ortiz is getting some leeway because it's early in the year and he's traditionally a slow starter, but I wouldn't be surprised if the line-ups start to change before the end of April.

But to address the title of your post, I felt badly for Ortiz last year, which is crazy considering he's made tens of millions of dollars in his career and wasn't suffering a major personal or family illness or tragedy. To see him struggling and taking so much heat felt unfair because of what he'd meant to the Sox and done for the team and us as fans.

Now? He's got to be accountable. He can't really get mad at people for pointing out that he's been a sub-par hitter now for over a year. It's not a reasonable position to take. He either needs to start hitting or gracefully accept the role of platoon player. Otherwise he's being incredibly selfish.

Lastly, do we know that he used steroids? Could he have used amphetamines or HGH? Just looking for a head's up there.

--the Gunn

from the bronx said...

yes, we know it was steroids. baseball still doesnt' test for HGH so he wouldn't have shown up on the list for that, and the list that he was/is linked to was not for amphetamines.

Anonymous said...

"if boston fans weren't so blinded by his (chemically enhanced) role on two world series championship teams, they would be outraged by the very mention of his name."

This is a good point Bronx. Ortiz is complaining about fan/media reaction but this could be much much worse had the Sox not won two world series, with his steroid enhanced help of course. When you think about it, Ortiz really should keep his mouth shut and be grateful that the outcry is not much worse than it actually is. I think everyone around here is frustrated with his lack of consistency, but the reality is that most people in boston think that all in all he's a good guy and we hope that he succeeds.

This is far better than he deservss, and is certainly far better than what has happened to other big name steroid users. If he had any common sense, he'd look at Bonds/Clemens/Manny/McGwire/Palmeiro, and realize that he's gotten off easy compared to them.

bandi

Anonymous said...

forgot to add a rod to that list

Patrick said...
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Patrick said...

the last thing i want to do on a friday when i'm getting geared up for the weekend is dive into a steroids conversation. but to your point bandi, you'd have been perfectly fine leaving rodriguez off that list. i can certainly understand your reasoning for including him. the circus surrounding the revelation that he used PED's far exceeded that of ortiz's. and on a lot of levels that makes sense because rodriguez is about 50x more significant to the game: he's a top 10 player of all-time and ortiz isn't even a top 10 player of this generation. that's not a knock on ortiz, it's just the facts, and people are always going to be more interested the more higher profile the player. add in that rodriguez has always been a name in the national media for both on and off the field issues, and in polarizing fashion at that, and you are going to get a big reaction to the news that he used PED's. more so than david ortiz. so i think for those reasons you would be correct lumping rodriguez in with the names you listed.

however, what's happened since then takes him right off that list. one year after his admission, he's more popular than ever with one of the largest fan bases for one of the best sports franchises in the world. most yankee fans - myself included - are far bigger fans of his a year after his steroids admission than they were before it. naturally, winning the world series and him being a big part of it has a lot to do with that. only natural. but he's also been more relaxed and team-oriented - the lack of both being very bothersome to many, with the net result being a guy who seemed to put too much pressure on himself and just cared about putting up individual numbers and not enough about winning. i don't know why these changes occurred - i've hypothosized that the world finding out he did PED's was a rock bottom scenario professionaly, meaning he really has nothing to lose, doesn't have to worry about failing anymore, and can just let his talents take over - but they did. and they happened in the season right after he was found to have used PED's. and then they won a world series. and for those reasons he's now more well-liked than ever. so like ortiz should be thankful it wasn't worse, so too should rodriguez, because i'm not sure if there is a scenario where the right circumstances could have come together better for him at the right time the way they did last year to basically minimize the PED situation as much as it possibly could have been.

jason said...

id like to point out that one article by pete abe i had read mentioned the possibility of vmart stepping up and becoming the dh while the sox shop for another catcher this would certainly put an end to the whole ortiz issue, but then again this is more of a next season solution

jason said...

oh and pat im surprised to see you actually wrote something with some thought involved in it on a friday afternoon (about steroids nonetheless), once again you have proved that you are indeed dedicated to the success of this blog! i think you deserve a beer, matter of fact ill go have one for you

the gm at work said...

Yo!

Real analysis coming later on. Gotta minimize the JD time at work and consolidate it all into the lunch break.

Anonymous said...

Pat,

Is ARod really that popular? I can understand if that's the case sense he finally delivered. I didn't realize he had made it all the way out of the whole as far as perception is concerned.

Still, I would find it hard to believe that even now ARod is as loved in NY as Ortiz was in Boston at his zenith. Everything you say is true about the significance of ARod, but the reality is that he was never as well liked as Ortiz was. I guess what I'm saying is that Ortiz is lucky he hasn't really lost that much due to the steroid stuff. I don't think we are disagreeing here. I'd put Ortiz in a similar category as Andy Pettite in terms of how steroid revelations have affected him.

bandi

Anonymous said...

should be hole not whole. no kaplan didn't ghost write this for me.

Patrick said...
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Patrick said...

bandi -

rodriguez is indeed that popular in new york now. as far as general perception by his fanbase is concerned, he's in about 50,000x better light than he was. i guess world series>>>>>>PED revelation. don't get me wrong, there are still some that still don't like him, but even a lot of that is unrelated to PEDs. there are some that don't like him strictly because of PED use, but a lot of those who would at least factor the PED thing into the equation in evaluating him tossed it right out the window with the way he played last year + winning the world series. i wouldn't say i've tossed it out the window, but i'm more in that group than anything else, and from a great majority of yankee fans i know and from other sites i read, this group seems to be a strong majority.

in no way was i saying rodriguez is as popular in ny now as ortiz was in boston, and there are a lot of reasons for that (including the yankees having a lot of established players that make the room for elite adoration crowded at the top in new york, moreso than boston; rodriguez's pre-2009 antics; ortiz doing what he did at the time he did it relative to the 04/07 title drought in boston, etc.) you are right in saying that he was never as well-liked as ortiz was. but that doesn't really matter for keeping rodriguez off the list with the other guys you mentioned. maybe rodriguez isn't all the way in the ortiz/pettitte grouping (which i think is a fair comparison), but again still way below being in the list you mentioned with those other names who are being, in my opinion, far more vilified for their PED stuff and the surrounding circumstances since. funnily enough, rodriguez's perception has actually IMPROVED post PED because of events totally unrelated to PED's. good timing more than anything else with the world series, but good timing is part of it. ortiz on the other hand had his PED stuff become public in the midst of a sharp decline. bad timing, which again is just part of it, but i think that contributes to ortiz and rodriguez being similar not necessarily in terms of the initial hit (where rodriguez took much more), but where we are 6-12 months removed from their respective PED sutff. i don't think their respective fan bases look at them much different relative to the PED issue. i agree with you we aren't disagreeing, i'm just pointing out that rodriguez, like ortiz, should be thrilled with how little of a hit he took compared to what it could have been, all considered.