Most of the commentariat is still wondering what’s wrong with Papi. Sox fan Russ Smith is on to the next question:
The real question is how Boston’s normally sober and calculating general manager Theo Epstein is going to negotiate Ortiz’s exit from Fenway Park. He’s in a real bind: when Epstein dispatched onetime Sox legend Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs at the 2004 trading deadline, there was some grumbling, but the oft-injured shortstop had become, by that season, a malcontent who was hurting the team not only on the field but in the clubhouse as well. As a Sox fan, I applauded Epstein for having the guts to make that move; and when the team finally won a World Series a few months later, most of Boston agreed. But Big Papi? Man, Epstein will have elephant-sized balls to release the big lug, despite the inevitability. It’s my bet that Epstein will take action, but probably later rather than sooner, as sentiment will prevail over business.
I still say we’ll see a long stint on the DL, followed by an almost immediate trade for a big bat (you’ll be best advised, however, not to ask whether the trade was brokered before the “injury” was discovered). If the trade works, great, the Sox head towards the playoffs, Oritiz comes back when rosters expand and is allowed to hit some without the question of whether or not he should be given his job back hanging over his head. Of course not: the big bat Theo picked up in July has earned the right, and Papi will get a chance to start fresh in 2010.
If the trade doesn’t work and the Sox miss the playoffs? Well, that raises enough other questions that the issue of David Ortiz’ struggles will fade in significance. The key is that David Ortiz cannot be the everyday DH at the same time the Sox are slipping out of the race,* because then everyone gets the blame.
*For these purposes, please ignore the fact that the Sox could have a nice comfy lead right now if it weren’t for the fact that David Ortiz is cooked.