- Yet the Sox can’t afford to wait forever for Ortiz to figure out whether he’s going to be good or miserable. The way this team is constructed, inconsistent mediocrity is not enough. Ortiz must be good, most of the time, or he may be gone.
He’s already a platoon player, starting only against right-handed pitching. Tuesday against the Angels, Ortiz was feeble or worse in big situations, and to watch him take his slow, sad, lumbering walks back to the dugout after failing was heartwrenching.
There’s the rub: sooner rather than later, it may be impossible for the Red Sox to keep carrying a one-dimensional player who can’t run, can’t field, and can be used only against pitchers coming from one side, regardless of his storied history with Boston. Carrying a platoon DH is extremely limiting for the team, roster-wise. If not for the presence of play-anywhere utilityman Bill Hall, the Sox wouldn’t be able to make this work; they’re only partly making it work now.
That’s not the only issue at play. The longer this situation drags on, the more of a distraction it becomes for the rest of the team.
I disagree with the first part of that. When Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury are healthy, the Red Sox will have good every-day players at each position, plus a solid fourth outfielder (Jeremy Hermida) and a do-it-all utility guy (Hall). Even in the Eight-Man Bullpen Era, isn't there still room for a platoon DH? Shoot, the Mariners have two guys with Ortiz' limitations. Granted, that's probably too many. But when you're as all-around strong as the Red Sox, you can find room on your roster for one guy who doesn't do anything except hit right-handed pitchers.
But that speaks to the second part: Papi must hit. If he doesn't, he's a huge distraction and (funny how this gets buried) the Red Sox won't score enough runs to keep up with the Yankeeses and the Rayses.
It really is this simple. He has to hit. If he doesn't hit, the Red Sox must refit.