He is seeing the ball better. He has better confidence in his harder swings. He isn’t arguing with the umps as much.
He will be good. I expect him to get his 30 homeruns by the end of the year. But, I think the Red Sox and their 5-year ideology on team building has put Ortiz on the top list of players to be replaced.
Ortiz and 3B are the only positions where the Sox could add a great deal of offense, and after Texeira donned the pinstripes, the free agent waters for a big bat don’t look to good when 2009 is over ( Adrian Beltre, anyone? Anyone? )
Adrian Beltre would probably be a a great fit for the Sox if the front office is confident his shoulder can be fixed by next season. He is an amazing hitter whose line-drive power doesn’t get a lot of love in Safeco Canyon Where Homeruns Go Extinct field.
Going back to the matter at hand, I think Ortiz would do a lot better if he bunted his way on. He did this a few years back to shake up the opposing manager’s decision to put the shift on him.
If he bunts ( even if its just one or two times a month ), he’ll force pressure on the pitcher to think defense right after the throw, he would force the decision to bring the 3rd baseman back to his position to help on bunt defense, and he will effectively force some honesty out of the ridiculous shift.
This would in effect give Ortiz back a lot of batting points lost from those pulled line-drives to right field. Getting more of these hits will force pitchers to stay away from Ortize with off-speed pitches. From this point on, he would probably become a .320 hitter easily, or become an insane walking machine.
As of now, the pitcher doesn’t get hurt as much throwing him inside since his hard hits are either homeruns or outs due to the shift. Making the defense honest will not only make Ortiz’s game better, but it will open up many opportunities to how he is pitched, and how new situations may force opposing ptichers to pitch around him.
If anyone should be telling Ortiz this advice, its Jason Bay. With Oritz constantly getting on base, Jason Bay will have a lucrative meal ticket for the 2nd half 2009, and he could end up redeeming it for a cool $16 million.
Hopefully, he won’t have to make this exchange with a Steinbrenner.