Boston Red Sox need to say no to DH by committee
The Boston Red Sox are debating how to replace a significant missing part – David Ortiz. The direction may be a long-term signing, a short-term signing or an internal mix and match.
The recent elections certainly placed the Boston Red Sox deeper into the papers than one would normally expect, but baseball is a form of escapism and once the furor over the election has subsided baseball will assume its lordly presence.
I did notice recently a report that the Red Sox are possibly pursuing the post-David Ortiz years with a dramatic – for them – change in the team philosophy of the use of a designated hitter. The report mentioned “internal options” as a short-range possibility and that seismic shift would eventually be followed by a promising young player assuming the role of full-time DH.
My first response was a simple two words: “Cheap bastards.” The Red Sox Dave Dombrowski did mention “affordability” which is translated into we don’t plan of dumping a boatload of green on the more mentioned DH bats that have suddenly reached free agent status collectively.
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I happen to consider DH by committee about as productive as bullpen by committee. Baseball players are a very conservative group when it comes to job assignment. Each day they wander to the clubhouse with the idea that their position is as secure as the profiles on Mt. Rushmore. Any change in routine, including shifts within the lineup are greeted as warmly as a visit by that mother-in-law who considers you the incarnation of Jack the Ripper.
The key to my view was that line regarding affordability since the money could be spent elsewhere, such as the bullpen or the bullpen and, yes, the bullpen. The way that price tag is escalating for bullpen arms an Edwin Encarnacion may seem like a bargain. The Red Sox apparently are reluctant to pay for a longer-term solution.
I can, to some degree, understand the reasoning. Encarnacion requires, at least for public consumption, a contract that will run five years and cost in excess of $100 Million dollars. Jose Bautista may offer a shorter length, but could be headed for a dramatic production drop. The last formidable right-handed bat is Mark Trumbo and is he just a one-year wonder?
The Red Sox also are willing to explore the short-term option such as Carlos Beltran, who had a respectable season, but his production is potentially questionable. For Beltran, the 2016 slash was quite impressive at .295/.337/.513 with 29 home runs and 93 RBI, but the three previous seasons fell considerably short.
What I do most certainly know is the only bat currently residing on the roster that can remotely match the lost value of Ortiz is Hanley Ramirez. What happens to first? Well, if the Red Sox decide to play musical DH that will not be an issue. Maybe even another potential DH name, Pablo Sandoval, can wander around first and third.
The designated hitter is like any other position in that consistent stability performs best. You know what to expect and can rely on the consistent production and not tie future hopes to a minor league player or present hopes to shifting players or a questionable short-term solution of a questionable talent.
What this really amounts to is stability and stability mean just how close the Red Sox can get to the Ortiz numbers and that certainly centers on Encarnacion who is the most viable choice. You migrate through the numbers and the replacement is obvious, but the cost is the deal breaker or is it?
Just because the Red Sox float a DH proposal does not mean they are seriously contemplating it. A mind game? Quite possibly. The game is still afoot and the tango being played is one between agents and management. Encarnacion tossed out a “number” and the Red Sox – a wary suitor – suddenly discovered fiscal responsibility. This is an illusion as I expect Boston management to do the smart thing and that is get that right-hand power bat.