Some Thoughts on David Ortiz

Loyal reader Youppi rightfully pointed out to me that for all my (in my opinion rightful) hammering on the Mets, and in particular Carlos Delgado who I insisted was D-U-N done at this time last season that I have been giving the Red Sox and one David Ortiz a free ride.

Very fair. After the jump, here are some of my disjointed thoughts.

Watching Ortiz is brutal right now, it looks like I could strike him out with my 60 mph fastball right now no problem. He can’t catch up to fastballs, even ones that are in the low 90s. He’s cheating to try and get the fastballs and so is getting destroyed by changeups and other offspeed pitches and his whole process at the plate right now seems like a mess. You’ve heard of the the 3-outcomes hitter, men like Adam  Dunn, well, right now, Ortiz is a two outcome, walk or strikeout.

The worst part is that over the course of the season I can count on my hands the number of hard-hit balls that he’s put in play. Before the season Ortiz complained that there wasn’t enough protection for him in the lineup without Manny, but Kevin Youkilis has been one of the best hitters in the game this season and Jason Bay has been straight up KILLING the ball. Clearly, the lineup around him is producing, Ortiz is not. Dustin Pedroia is seeing less and less pitches as opposing managers opt to pitch to Ortiz instead, something that would have seemed insane just two years ago.

So what is it? Is Ortiz still suffering lingering effects from his wrist and knee injuries? Is he the just one of those bad-body sluggers who instantly see their ability depreciate? I for one do NOT believe that steroids have anything to do with this; for one thing, steroids would lead to the body breaking down, not the inability to generate bat speed (I think, I mean, I’m no doctor…)

And yet, despite all this, despite Ortiz’ struggles the fans of Boston have embraced him still. Sure a smattering of boos followed him after some of his many strikeouts, but those reactions are out of love, the fans have looked to Papi for so long as indestructible, you knew when he came up that he’d come through for the team. For all of us, it’s like Superman 2 when Clark Kent gets beaten up in the diner and starts bleeding from a cut for the first time. How could this happen to him, he’s Superman, how could it come to this, David Ortiz struggling to even get a hit?

In the end, I still have faith in the Large Father, I can’t give a rational explanation, it’s about faith. Looking at Carlos Delgado’s season last year, when he too suffered a precipitous drop in production and then rebounded in July to dominate the summer, I hold out hope once more that Ortiz can follow a similar path.

Ortiz has run up an OPS of .623 and .567 the first two months of the season, last year Delgado started with a .620, .771 and .778 before exploding with an OPS of 1.160 in July. At the end of the season, after combining for 25 RBIs in April and May, Delgado AVERAGED 22 RBIs in the successive months. Delgado’s season was remarkable, incredibly unlikely, but in the end, his talent came through. At this time last season the idea that Delgado would be on the Mets still would be laughable, there was no way they would EVER pick up his $12 million option, but after putting up the impressive summer numbers he did, they had no choice BUT to bring him back.

Will Ortiz break out of it? YES, he will. Why? Because he has to, because he’s too good to continue hitting like he’s the second coming of Pokey Reese, because he is a man of immense pride and these failures must be weighing on him, because while clutch hitting isn’t a real thing, if it were, he’d be the best, because he is David Ortiz.

The Red Sox right now are in first place without Ortiz, if and when he bounces back, who knows how far this team can go. However, I must imagine that Theo and the rest of the front office are looking everywhere for a backup plan just in case. It pains me to see Ortiz like this, I want him to succeed, but I’m glad that, at least so far, his struggles have been contained to just him, in spite of him the Red Sox continue to win and typing that sentence made me want to vomit. David Ortiz should be powering this lineup, he still can, will he?

I’m not so confident anymore.

But in the end, I know he will.

Remember how Superman 2 ends, Clark returns to the diner, strong as ever and restores his pride and proves to himself he’s back. David, I’m behind you, we can do this together.

Know why I believe in him?


3 Responses to “Some Thoughts on David Ortiz”

  1. 1 shatraw
    May 26, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    good luck with that. he’s a post-roid model months from the end. he’s got nothing. NOTHING. the fact that they’ve allowed him to continue batting clean up for the entire season is a joke.

    look, we get it: he helped rebuild that franchise into a scary hitting monster. but he’s a giant black hole of suck in the middle of a potent line up. as soon as they trade for a bat, his ass is on the pine. he knows he’s on the clock and he has until they make that trade to get it going.

    RIP David Ortiz’s career.

  2. 3 shatraw
    May 27, 2009 at 10:33 am

    yeah, it’s funny because i realized i wrote that about 7 hours after i wrote this and was like, oh well, whatever.

    and that’s even WORSE if you consider it.

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