I hate seeing what is happening to David Ortiz. Last night as the Sox got their hittin' on against the Rays (finally - the way they'd been getting knocked around, I thought we might be leaving Tampa on the business end of a sweep), he was not a part of it. He displayed some patience and got on base, keeping rallies going, but...he was not a part of the home runs or the base hits or the steals. Instead he stood on the basepaths between pitches like a wallflower at a party, shuffling his feet uncomfortably.
Today, in the sixth inning, he finally couldn't stand it, and took a mighty hack at the first pitch he saw in his at-bat against James Shields. The second the ball left the bat, he was hanging his head and limply jogging out of the batters' box. He jogged back to the dugout, face blank. As soon as he got about six steps in to the row of his teammates, he stopped right in front of Jason Varitek and slammed his batting helmet against the dugout steps. He yelled out a curse and turned with a grimace back toward the bat rack before the camera cut away.
"He has reason to be frustrated," came the nasal tenor intonation of Tony Massarotti, who hasn't been a bad analyst, but his voice could not be more different than the one we're used to hearing in duet with Orsillo's.
There's been talk starting to spring up about moving Ortiz in the batting order. Chad Finn suggested replacing him in the three-hole with JD Drew. I wouldn't want to see that. JD's batting average isn't much higher than Papi's at .239. And what's more...
JD w/ runners on: .190
Papi w/ runners on: .293
JD w/ RISP: .152
Papi RISP: .316
JD w/ RISP and 2 outs: .294
Papi w/ RISP and 2 outs: .500
The most significant sample-size discrepancy between the two is the situation of RISP w/ 2 outs, which JD has been in 16 times and Papi has been in 12 times. But in the other two categories, the number of times each has been in these two situations is roughly equivalent: JD has been up 20 times with runners on. Papi, 22. JD has been up w/ RISP 20 times, Papi 19. Meanwhile, JD's BA with bases empty is .310. Papi's .215 BA is very weak and his lack of power is downright worrying. But if you're putting someone in the third spot in the order to drive in runs, it probably shouldn't be JD. I would suggest switching Ortiz with Bay in the sixth slot.
That's if you're going to drop Papi in the order at all, destroying what little confidence he might have left, after just 24 games. I don't see Tito making that kind of move, regardless of any supporting evidence for it, until at least the All-Star Break. If he was willing to give all the chances he did to guys like Kevin Millar and Alan Embree, he'll surely give Papi quite a long time to prove he's done before we see any changes to the lineup.
But really, the point is, someone's still making the suggestion about JD over Ortiz, and it's not that far-fetched an idea with the way Papi's looked this season. And that's not to mention the ongoing, chronic middle relief problems or get into What's Wrong with Josh Beckett, and don't even get me started on Julio Lugo. Also, as mentioned, Jerry Remy is not in the booth. Also, swine flu. Things are admittedly not looking good right now.
On the other hand, a week ago, give or take a few hours, we were celebrating our third consecutive pasting of the Yankees and our tenth win in a row. The Sunday before that, we were establishing a 2-4 record with a second loss in three games on what would turn out to be a truly bogus West Coast skid.
The swings between outhouse and penthouse this season so far have been enough to make you seasick.