David Ortiz has been the face of the Red Sox since he joined the team in 2003. Big Papi won his way into the hearts of Red Sox Nation with his infectious upbeat attitude, epic clutch performances and status as an elite middle-of-the-order hitter.
As they say, though, that was then, and this is now.
The Red Sox are a different team and David Ortiz is a different player. He may still be beloved by most of Red Sox Nation, but it's hard not to sense a little bit of growing frustration between the player and management this past season.
For what it's worth, Ortiz's frustration has not quelled any interest, on his part, of wanting to stay in Boston. He's been vocal about that, but Ortiz was still harboring resentment at not being given an extension on his contract.
Still, if Boston was skeptical about giving him a multi-year contract this past offseason, who's to say that they still aren't this offseason. And Ortiz is looking for that type of commitment again.
If the Red Sox do decide that Big Papi's time in Boston has come to an end, then they are going to have to replace the gaping hole he leaves in their lineup. And they should do so quickly.
Much like how Boston made quick work of finding a replacement for Bobby Valentine in John Farrell, who, ironically enough, Ortiz is a big fan of, Cherington would be wise to replace Ortiz in the lineup sooner rather than later.
The beauty of the middle-of-the-order spot is that it's not exclusive to DH, Ortiz's role, so it opens the list up a bit, though you will find that there is a pattern in terms of positional needs on the team.