Sunday, November 7, 2010

One more year of Big Papi

As I'm sure you've heard by now, the Red Sox have acted to pick up David Ortiz's option for 2011, and will pay the slugging - and aging - designated hitter $12.5 million next season.

Now, as soon as we hit the middle of April and Papi is sitting at .145 with no homers and a single RBI, fans will be screeching that he's washed up, overpaid, and taking up valuable roster space. We all know this will happen: for one, it's happened the last two years, but he's also not getting any younger.

Ortiz would not be worth $12.5 million on the open market. Despite the fact that he was one of the few 2010 Opening Day starters who managed to stay off the disabled list, and finished the year with a .270 average, 32 home runs, and 102 RBIs, DHs aren't as valuable as they once were.

No matter what he might tell you, David Ortiz cannot be an everyday first baseman, and so he must play in the American League. Most teams with a choice these days opt to keep the DH spot open to rotate in their aging or injured players when they need some rest, and so full-time DHs are not in particularly high demand.

However, this is be now means a bad decision from the Red Sox' point of view, as it prevents them from having to commit to him for more years, as they certainly would have had to do if they wanted him to take a pay cut. It is very likely that 2011 will be a farewell tour for Papi, unless there's some sort of 2006 revival, and/or witchcraft.

To be perfectly honest, I think this is for the best. David deserves to have a farewell tour that showcases him before the inevitable decline intensifies. Hopefully, after this year, the two can part ways amicably: Papi will retire with dignity, and the Sox will bid him farewell in a classy manner. This is unlikely, because baseball players, as a rule, keep playing long after they're particularly productive. But hey, a girl can dream, right? And you know me... I'm always dreaming of baseball.

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