August 14, 2009

Does Ortiz Belong On The Bench?

SI's Joe Sheehan says the Red Sox must make a "coldhearted" decison and bench David Ortiz:
[Ortiz's] .219 batting average, .308 on-base percentage and .408 slugging percentage [now .218/.305/.399]— which projects to be the worst full season of his career — would be inadequate for a middle infielder, but they're absolutely crippling from a designated hitter. His brief hot stretch in June has been long forgotten; Ortiz has just a [.204/.265/.344] line since the All-Star break.

Ortiz brings negative baserunning value, and batting him in the middle of the lineup is just providing an escape hatch for opposing pitchers. ... The only qualification to be a DH is to hit, and Ortiz doesn't seem to be able to do that any longer. ...

The Sox can no longer afford to experiment with various alignments or wait for Big Papi to come around. As the decision to designate 42-year-old righthander John Smoltz for assignment last week shows, this is no time for sentiment. With the additions of Martinez and Kotchman, Ortiz is no longer qualified to be in the Red Sox lineup.
With 48 games remaining in the season, the Red Sox are in serious danger of falling out of contention in the East and will be fighting to the final weekend for the wild card spot. Now is the time for Theo Epstein to make the difficult decision and for Playoff Tito to take up permanent residence in the Boston dugout.

Ortiz was next-to-worthless in the first two months of the season -- and he's even worse now. In 49 plate appearances in August, he is hitting .114/.204/.136.

His OBP by month:
April .290
May .279
June .409
July .306
August .204
Boston's best infield has Kevin Youkilis at third and Casey Kotchman at first. That means Lowell, Ortiz and Victor Martinez would be the possible choices at DH.
Against LHP
Lowell .289/.367/.536/.903
Martinez .254/.356/.492/.848
Ortiz .220/.288/.432/.720

Against RHP
Lowell .303/.331/.487/.818
Martinez .296/.365/.451/.816
Ortiz .216/.312/.384/.696
If you covered up the names and looked at those numbers -- i.e., removing sentiment from the equation -- it would be next to impossible to justify ever playing the weaker hitter if the stronger ones were available.

But if Francona is going to keep penciling Ortiz into the lineup, in the hopes that maybe today is the day a hot streak begins, he must bat him no higher than 7th.

13 comments:

L-girl said...

Sad but true. He should be benched.

truly good design said...

It seems like a no brainer.

I hope Tito has stuck with him thus far, not because of sentiment, but because an 'on point' Ortiz is a weapon that any lineup would benefit from. And he has hope/faith that Ortiz has the potential to rediscover that deadliness.

It worked once this season, but is it worth taking the risk that it will work again?

Remember, for that month Ortiz was on, when he came up to bat, we all became reacquainted with that feeling of SOMETHING GREAT MIGHT BE ABOUT TO HAPPEN.

As he has reverted to his early season form, we have also reverted to OH MAN HERE IS AN EASY OUT.

That small slice of hope, of having a lineup with a threatening Ortiz in it, and knowing how much deadlier of an offense the team has, is perhaps what keeps Tito penciling his name in.

9casey said...

As the decision to designate 42-year-old righthander John Smoltz for assignment last week shows, this is no time for sentiment.




To compare Smoltz and Papi on "sentiment" is ridiculous...
Smotltz never did anything for us, so letting him go , didn't really make anyone sad, to see Papi decline right in front of us is hard, and i am sure Tito realizes he isn't sitting where he is without him.....

redsock said...

The best hitting and fielding quartet would be:

1B Kotchman
3B Youkilis
C Martinez
DH Lowell

But Tito will not bench both Tiz and Tek.

truly good design said...

I think I am in the minority on this, but I think that IF Tito makes his decisions because of loyalty or feelings, it is because its a long season, and for each game, he goes with what he thinks will be most beneficial for that game, but in the context of a whole season.

I just don't think that he would keep putting Tek or Ortiz in the lineup simply because he likes them or because of their past or anything like that. I think it's part of his/the organization's strategy.

L-girl said...

I think I am in the minority on this, but I think that IF Tito makes his decisions because of loyalty or feelings, it is because its a long season, and for each game, he goes with what he thinks will be most beneficial for that game, but in the context of a whole season.

I often say something similar.

A manager has to look hard at the numbers. But he has to do more than that, too. He has to hold a team together, deal with his players' mental and emotional states, reward people for loyalty and for extra effort, for seniority, etc. There are all sorts of considerations.

If Francona was Playoff Assassin Tito every single day, he wouldn't be the great manager he is. His players wouldn't respect him as much, and that would ultimately effect the team's performance.

So I don't think that Francona or any good manager can only look at numbers to the exclusion of all else. The non-numbers part of the equation is not only "sentimentality".

However, there comes a time when the numbers become too compelling to ignore. To me this is obviously one of those times.

redsock said...

To compare Smoltz and Papi on "sentiment" is ridiculous...

Perhaps a better comparison is Theo trading Nomar.

9casey said...

redsock said...
To compare Smoltz and Papi on "sentiment" is ridiculous...

Perhaps a better comparison is Theo trading Nomar.





And you don't even write for SI...

redsock said...

And you don't even write for SI...

I've been meaning to talk to them about that.

I assume he said Smoltz because he's talking about this season possibly going down the drain. But it also does not work because DFA'ing someone and taking them out of the starting lineup are two different things.

Patrick said...

I'm still down to win the East, and that means hitting playoff stride a month and a half early.

I'd like to see a smiling Ortiz face on the bench.

L-girl said...

I refuse to give up on the division. I will still keep hoping. Costs nothing. I'd rather be hopeful and wrong than give up and be right.

James said...

Joe Sheehan is a clown. He's far and away the worst writer on Prospectus and doesn't offer much aside from contrived contrarian opinions that it seems clear he doesn't really hold. He's like the Bill O'Reilly of the sabermetrics crowd.

I don't think Ortiz should play against lefties, but I'm against benching him. He's earned more than 450 at bats to right the ship; after all, the 3000+ at bats leading up to these 450 have been fabulous and with few peers. I don't think he's done any more than Jim Thome was in 2005.

truly good design said...

I'd rather be hopeful and wrong than give up and be right.

yessssssssss.