Saturday, October 30, 2010

Will David Ortiz Get an Extension?

Let's start this post with the obvious: We were all wrong about David Ortiz last year. And the chief, top of the list writer wrong about Ortiz was this writer. The Fan buried him early last year, but at least the Fan wasn't the only one. According to this article, David Ortiz wants an extension and would not be happy with the Red Sox simply picking up his $12 million option for 2011. His reasoning is all the negativity he received last year and the year before (guilty!) and in Ortiz's mind, a multi-year deal would allow Ortiz to just play and have fun and not worry about it. There is no doubt of Ortiz's sincerity. But Mr. Ortiz is simply not dealing in reality.

First of all, David Ortiz DID have a great year last year. His 899 OPS+ and all those homers and RBIs added up to a 137 OPS+. But even saying that, his WAR or Wins Above Replacement came in at 3.3 which is just about perfectly dead on for the $13 million he was earning. That's the good news. The bad news is that it was the first time in the last three years that he came close to earning his salary. The Red Sox could use his bat and if he can come close to his production of a year ago, he would be worth the $12 million option. But, why in the world would the Red Sox do anything other than pick up the option?

Ortiz is going to be 35 next year. He is not an athletic 35. He is a big-bodied, tall son-of-a-gun that needs a lot to go right to catch up to a major league pitch. With each year that passes, he will be less and less able to do that. His peak years physically and statistically are behind him (not going down the PED conversation here). The Red Sox are taking a gamble by simply picking up his option. They would be playing Russian Roulette with five bullets in their gun if they signed him to a multi-year deal.

And what about Ortiz's contention about the extension taking care of the negativity? What exactly does he mean by that? Does he mean that by signing a multi-year contract that he will be all set for the rest of his baseball life and can point to his posterior if someone complains about his production? The Fan can buy that. Does he mean that by signing a multi-year deal, the negativity will go away? Preposterous. It would get worse. The "Red Sox Nation" (shiver) is a pretty smart fan base. If Papi is known to have been given the silver platter and doesn't produce, he will get roasted. And it won't be just the fans. It will be the same talk radio, newspapers, blogs and sports networks that filled him with all that negativity in the first place.

The Red Sox have only two choices here. Either pick up Ortiz's option and tell him to earn more time or don't pick up the option at all. They can't worry about how Ortiz will react to the former choice because if they do, then they should just choose the latter. If they don't pick up the option, they can sign John Buck and let Victor Martinez handle the DH. If they pick up the option, then they have to hope Ortiz hits like 2010 and not like 2008 and 2009. But those are the only sane options. The third option of giving Ortiz a multi-year deal is just not rational and not in the Red Sox best interest. And it is hard to imagine where this writer sits that the Red Sox would not do what's in their best interest.

Apologies, Mr. Ortiz about last year. But no apologies for feeling your current sentiments are all wet.


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Josh Borenstein said...

I'd pass on Ortiz and go after Adam Dunn. Seems like the perfect time to part ways and find a younger, better replacement.