Oh, I remember the days in early 2003, when we were just signing David Ortiz to, really, a bench player-like contract. Red Sox fans saw him as a backup player, and nobody saw anything special in him. He would be the DH, but there were no certainties regarding how he would impact that club.
We then we saw a different, very surprising Ortiz, one that would hit between 40 and 50 home runs and knock in 120 to 140 RBI for consecutive years.
However, we saw a different side of him in 2007 and beyond, too.
We expected the now "Greatest Clutch Hitter in Red Sox History" to just keep on hitting like there was no stopping him, but we began to see something different.
In 2007, we saw a change in Ortiz, but it was nothing eye-opening, as his slugging percentage and batting average remained relatively high.
Then in 2008, the decline became worse.
He finished the season short of even 30 home runs, not even close to 100 RBI, and he was not getting on base. But that year, we had the injuries and age to blame.
Present day, we are seeing a man basically past his prime—healthy enough, but the worst hitter in the lineup.
I'm pretty sure last weekend in Tampa—when the Rays walked Pedroia to face Ortiz—spoke volumes to Ortiz and fans a like. We must now accept the fact that Ortiz will never be the type of hitter we saw from 2003 to 2007.
Frustrations are also growing, as Ortiz is beginning to show his anger—notice the recent interviews and his dugout behavior?
Why shouldn't he be upset?
He is at his healthiest, yet he is the only regularly playing member of the team without a home run. I never though Nick Green and Jonathan Van Every would lead Ortiz in that category.
The only other members of the zero home run-club are Julio Lugo, who just returned from injury, and George Kottaras, who plays once a week.
As a Sox fan myself, I am saddened to say that Papi is way overrated, and we need to find a replacement for the future.
Many say aging, missing Manny, and even a possible use of steroids have lead to his decline, but I am hesitant to subscribe to any of those theories on Ortiz.
Below, I have listed some possible replacements for Ortiz:
My thoughts are that they will need to get a big-name hitter from a struggling team, or a possible free agent signing in the offseason.
The first name that comes to mind is Matt Holliday.
Holliday would be an addition not unlike Mark Teixeira, who the Red Sox coveted, but failed to sign. He is a free agent after this year, and if they are desperate and the Athletics are struggling, I could easily see Holliday coming to Boston at the trade deadline. Moreover, the Red Sox have the resources to offer him an extension during the season or sign him during the offseason.
Another name that comes to mind is Josh Hamilton.
Though it seems unlikely that he will produce at the same pace as last season, he could be a great fit in Boston, depending on how his recent ankle woes pan out. He is the kind of five tool-player most teams would love to have, and he could also work as a DH. I would love it if Theo got us Hamilton in the offseason, permitting he is 100 percent.
Another name that is rumored to be the first major signing of the upcoming offseason is Twins catcher Joe Mauer.
It would be a great move, as Boston needs a catcher for the future. We could then put Lars Anderson at the DH spot, which would be great, especially when considering that he is, at this point, not an elite fielder.
Mauer can do anything, and he is such a great batter and leader. This really seems like the most likely scenario to me.
Some other potential power replacements are Albert Pujols and Alex Rios. One of these two would be another perfect fit for Boston.
Rios is a future star, regardless of what team he plays on; but in all honesty, I don't see him coming to Boston.
And Pujols, to me, is baseball's biggest star, alongside Derek Jeter. Albert is a machine, he may be the greatest star today, and he is a free agent. I see him going back to St. Louis, but just imagine him playing DH or third base at Fenway—greatest potential move in Red Sox history.
Adam Dunn is another guy I see as a future star. It seems as if he is young and up-and-coming, but that is because he has played for mediocre teams—the guy would be an established star elsewhere.
Out of all the teams pursuing Dunn, why did he pick the Nationals? I'd rather play in Japan. He would be a perfect DH in Boston.
Now, other names I would feel comfortable throwing around are Carlos Lee, Jay Bruce, and Ryan Braun; however, it is worth noting that any logical front office would not let these guys go, and I'll deem the Reds, Astros, and Brewers logical enough to hold up my theory.
But back to my point: David Ortiz is really past his prime, his performance reflecting such, so it is with great disappointment that I say we need a new slugger in Beantown.