Sunday, August 14, 2011

Putting It Into Perspective

A week ago tonight, as I've mentioned a few times now, I wrote a post indicting David Ortiz for crying about his contract in the middle of a Red Sox/Yankees series.  I had some good points, and these good points do not go away by any stretch of the imagination:

1. I compared him to Lebron, because he was someone who in 2003-2004 was wildly popular, then started talking and got embroiled in some controversy, and now only select sycophants continue to blindly fawn over him.
2.  Whining to ESPNDeportes about his contract in the middle of a Yankees series with first place on the line is exceedingly unprofessional and suggests that his less-than-stellar (.213) performance in the four weeks before the Yankees series is a product of lack of focus.
3.  It reeked of Manny Ramirez when "gas is up and so am I", Nomar after he turned down the $15 million a year, and Johnny Damon talking contract ten minutes after the conclusion of the 2005 ALDS sweep.

However, the following things happened and that put things into perspective:

1.  Carlos Zambrano.  The Red Sox have had some problems of their own the last few years.  Last year it was Front AND Back.  This year it's Ortiz whining about his contract.  But the Red Sox do not have their ace acting like a loose cannon nonstop for the past several years, throwing at the Atlanta Braves, and cleaning out his locker.  We can talk about that as a REAL problem.  We can talk about the Dodgers' situation as a REAL problem.  Ortiz is child's play compared to this.

2.  He started hitting again.  Citing a .213 batting average over four weeks is not as compelling if those four weeks are followed up by a week where he hits .556, has an OPS of 1.747, and hits a double, three home runs, and records seven RBIs (exactly 1/3 of JD Drew's season-long total).  This is probably the best way to ensure a contract extension.

3.  Bob Ryan wrote a compelling article.  Ryan endorsed the re-signing of Ortiz for two years with a club option at $12 million per.  I would not go that high because no other team would conceivably do so.  I think Ortiz can be captured for 2/$20 because there is no market for aging DHes.  However, the point of the article that sticks in my head the most is the assertion that the player is going back to the way he was hitting in 2003.  He's not "hitting like a little bitch" (his term, not mine), but he's Adrian Gonzalezing around.  If they throw one in his wheelhouse, he's taking it 400.  If they're not throwing it in his wheelhouse, he goes with the pitch.  This is also the exact way he hit in 2007. 

In 2009 and 2010, Ortiz whined a lot about how he needed a power hitter in the lineup.  I thought it was crap because I thought (and still think) someone like Kevin Youkilis can suffice.  But when the squeaky wheel got his power hitter, look at this.  He can hit again.  Ryan is not always right, but his article in today's Globe was.  Perhaps when he was all alone as a power hitter in his own mind, he was pressing like Carl Crawford has done all season.  Whether he's ever baseball-referenced the 1998 or 1999 Yankees is kind of a moot point, as he apparently thought a team needs to have a 40-HR hitter to win, but the 2009 and 2010 seasons are over.  He's back to what he was doing.  Instead of crying to get his contract, he's hitting to get his contract.  Exactly the way it should be.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

I want Carl Crawford to be good so badly. You can tell he's trying really hard (as opposed to JD Drew). But imagine this situation--man on second, two outs, down a run or a tie game. Is there any player you'd want at the plate less than Carl Crawford? He's literally the last guy I'd want up there. At least maybe Drew could draw a walk and pass the buck to somebody who can actually hit. But for someone who slaughtered the Red Sox for so many years, Carl Crawford has been just terrible.

Also, it drives me crazy to hear people say, "just give him some time, he'll turn it around." They've played 120 games! It's August 15th! He's not going to get his batting average up to .295 over the next six weeks. And don't even get started with the whole, "well, maybe he just needed a year to adjust" business. A year? At $18 million? That's ridiculous. You can have your year to adjust if you're Jed Lowrie or Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury and you're making $475K, but not at $18 million. That's just absurd.

On Ortiz--all the Sox need to do is just offer a little more than the next guy to keep him. It's that simple. The question is, what will that number be? Now, in recent years a one year deal for $8 million was a lot for an aging DH. Will someone offer Ortiz two years and $20 million? Maybe, maybe not. But the Sox should really feel out the market before they do anything with him--he's getting older, Youkilis is getting older (and he's not a good third baseman, at least not by metrics so far this year) and DHing Gonzalez 20 times next year may be a good way to ensure he's healthy throughout his contract. Those facts may all make the DH spot a lot more attractive if it's flexible next year.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

I guess in the interest of fairness, I am due to crush Crawford. Even though I don't want to. But if you want to look at the silver lining, you can take a look at what Uggla did last year, and then take a look at what he did this year with Atlanta.

The Ortiz negotations will be interesting. Like when Charlie Murphy used to "throw Prince at" Rick James, Ortiz is going to throw the Yankees at the Red Sox. The Yankees will need a DH with the JoPo Half-Marathon likely moving on. This will certainly jack the price up a little bit.

Anonymous said...

DV

The Yankees will have a DH spot open with Posada moving on, but (and PF, please jump in here if I'm all over the place) that spot almost has to remain open--neither Jeter nor ARod are up to the task of playing their respective positions much longer and DH'ing may be the best option. Similarly, Teixeira will be getting older and requiring more DH AB's. I'm not saying that it precludes them from signing Oritz (the only constraints they have are fictional), but I think it gives them something to think about as winter approaches.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

the yankees will only be seriously in on ortiz 1. if the price is so low he can serve as a part-time DH/pinch-hitter (not likely), or 2. to drive up the price on the sox. they are unlikely to be serious about him or any DH for the reason the gunn mentioned. they have had opportunities to pursue DH's far better than ortiz at reasonable prices over the past few years and have always passed because they like to use that spot to give guys half days off. they've been able to get away with that because they have traditionally gotten great production at almost every position around the field, especially at non-traditional offensive positions like short, second, catcher, and center. this has allowed them to be a top offense without a full-time player at what is usually a key offensive position - DH.

it will be interesting, as their production at some of those positions declines, if the yankees think they can continue to get away with that. the output they have gotten from DH this year has been nothing short of abysmal. i'm not pulling up all the numbers but they are at the bottom of the league in almost every category from the DH spot. and they are still second in baseball in runs scored. you wonder how much more of a strength offense could be if they went from DH being one of the weakest parts of their order to one of the best, as it should be.

the sox will have to ask themselves similar questions, and perform a similar balancing act. they have never not had a DH in recent years. they probably can't afford not to have a strong one the way the yankees can, as they are not traditionally as strong up and down the order. you take ortiz, their biggest power threat by roughly 752 miles, out of the lineup this year and have the sox play the way the yankees do and that lineup takes a big, big hit. so as much as the yankees haven't been in on DH's recently, the sox should be in on ortiz, and as you guys say do just enough to sign him. the question is if another team thinks the price is attractive enough to offer him an even bigger deal.

- pf