Boston is once again buzzing after a tweet sent out my Pedro Martinez early yesterday morning. Martinez tweeted Big Papi was working out an in “baseball shape”. He also mentioned the Red Sox could use another bat, which is pretty evident to anyone who has watched the team this year. However Red Sox fans need to get off of this bandwagon. Even if Ortiz wanted to come back, the Red Sox would face more problems than solutions.
The lineup is begging for a power bat in the number four hole. Xander Bogaerts has become the Red Sox most consistent three hitter and he has whopping two homer runs on the year. Mitch Moreland has been inserted into the clean-up spot in the lineup after Hanley’s early season lack of power. The number one lineup in the league just one year ago now has barely any power coming out of the 3-4-5 spots. The Red Sox biggest power bat, Mookie Betts, is leading off games. From a lineup standpoint, Ortiz needs to be back in the lineup.
Unfortunately, for all of the supporters in Ortiz coming back, baseball is not just about a lineup. With the Red Sox already having fielding struggles, strategically the last thing they need is a designated hitter. Even if that designated hitter is a future hall of famer and one of the best hitters in franchise history.
Hanley Ramirez, despite his lack of power this year, is cemented into the designated hitter position. He has made it known he does not want to play first base, and certainly can not move to any other position around the diamond. It didn’t seem like a coincidence Hanley happened to hurt his shoulder for a few days while the Red Sox were in the national league which forced him to play first. Ideas from John Farrell to try Hanley at first again were quickly shot down. Even if Hanley did want to play first, you’re now taking away a gold glove first basemen in Mitch Moreland.
As a hitting talent, there is no doubt a healthy Ortiz would be better than Mitch Moreland. But Moreland is not the problem. In fact, he has been pretty consistent throughout the year. Moreland is hitting a solid .263 with 6 HR and 28 RBI so far. Those are pretty decent numbers, especially compared to the rest of this team.
The reason for this teams success last year came from the fact that the Sox lineup 1-9 could hit. Jackie Bradley Jr. tore up the regular season, peaking at a 29 game hitting streak. Sandy Leon had the best season of his career and looked like a top catcher in the league, and Travis Shaw was a solid bat in the lineup who could hit for power. This season, Leon and Bradley have struggled greatly, and Shaw was shipped to Milwaukee. Along with Hanley not producing, the bottom of the lineup has been the biggest issue for Boston. Catcher, Third base and centerfield are three positions neither Ortiz or Ramirez can play.
Then there is the retirement ceremony which is less than three weeks from now. Ortiz loves the spotlight, but to see him come out of retirement after having a ceremony retiring his number, seems a bit odd and unprofessional. Ortiz had one of the best retirement seasons any player has ever had, it just doesn’t seem right for him to end it another way.
Then there will be the contract issue. Of course these are smaller problems than his fit in the lineup, but they will be brought up. David has never been the type of guy to take a drastic pay cut for the good of his team. He earned his money and wanted to get paid. Now with this struggling team he will be asking for a good amount of money even to play a limited amount. Will the Red Sox be willing to pay a 41 year old DH as much as he wants?
The big issue here is where he will fit in the lineup. If the Red Sox need him, they will pay and they will certainly welcome him back. However from a strategy standpoint it just doesn’t make sense. Only time will tell to see if Red Sox fans will be able to see number 34 back in the batters box of Fenway Park.