David Ortiz sent home with illness

David Ortiz was sent home Sunday with a respiratory illness on Sunday, meaning he missed the 8-6 loss to arch rivals, the New York Yankees. And, of course, the conspiracy theories were flying. Most suggested that Ortiz was sent home because he didn’t want to play first base, which John Farrell had floated around as an before the All Star Break.

Farrell told the media that he sent David Ortiz home before the first pitch on a doctor’s David Ortiz orders. According to ESPN, John Farrell became aware that Ortiz might not play last night and had checked in with Ortiz via text Saturday night after the team’s win that night, and in person on Sunday morning. When asked if it could impact his availability after the All Star Break, Farrell just said that the team will check on him daily, and that he hoped it wouldn’t.

Now, to the fun stuff: The conspiracy that David was sent home for refusing to play first base. It makes sense from a certain perspective, but I personally find it hard to believe that David Ortiz would have intentionally sat out to avoid playing first. Yes, his ego has become pretty big at times in light of the fact that he played a huge role in bringing Boston 3 World Series titles, but my feeling is that he still wants to help this team get back on track. If he was healthy, I think he most likely would have, at the minimum, kept himself available as a late-game pinch hitter if he didn’t feel comfortable at first for that particular game.

Personally, I have to wonder if this is frustration towards a generally under performing team over the last couple of years getting worse, especially against the Yankees. The Yankees have now won 5 straight series at Fenway Park dating back to last year, per ESPN, which stings for Red Sox fans. Bad enough the team can’t beat our arch rivals at the moment, but to lose 5 home series in a row in 2 years is frustrating beyond belief.

Just a quick note to Red Sox fans: David Ortiz isn’t the guy to look at, at least for this game. The team on the field didn’t get the job done on Sunday, so direct your frustration towards them. If it turns out there is something in the “David wasn’t really sick” theories, then you have every right to be angry at him, but for now, your frustration should be directed at the guys who were actually taking part in the game on Sunday.

David Ortiz Starting Slow In 2015

With the additions to Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez it was expected the pressure would be taken off David Ortiz to be the main guy in the middle of the Red Sox order. Ortiz has performed up to and even above the standards many have expected the 39 year old to live up to in recent years but this season Ortiz has been struggling in the middle of the Sox order.

Ortiz has been a victim of the shift, obviously not much he can do about it unless he startsDavid Ortiz going the other way more, but easier said than done. With his average now just .221 Ortiz could be quietly having one of his worst seasons in a Red Sox uniform. Obviously no one expected him to hit 50 home runs again, or win a batting title. But, the offense of the Red Sox needs him to perform at a high level. Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are battling injuries that don’t look to be going away any time soon.

Ortiz is not the only Red Sox hitter struggling, but I feel he is the most important right now. He is the identity of this Red Sox team and the offense will be most successful when he is on. The lineup changes manager John Farrell made over the weekend were small and he seemed to revert back to the usual lineup already after flip flopping Ortiz and Ramirez this weekend. They were back to their normal spots in the lineup Monday. I feel Farrell is too reliant on going right-left in the lineup and should just have the best hitters at the top of the lineup. A hot Xander Bogaerts should not be hitting 7th, and a struggling David Ortiz should not still be hitting 3rd.

Mike Napoli had been struggling with his average dipping as low as .171 last week but with a great weekend series against the Angels he raised it to .211. 40 points in a weekend is a lot to expect but it is time for Ortiz to get on a roll and carry this Red Sox offense like he has the past ten plus years.

If and hopefully when Ortiz comes around with the bat, the Red Sox offense will be what many expected it to be before the season. Expecting the team to score 900 runs and be one of the best offenses in the American League, while stepping up in an American League East that no ones seems to be grabbing a hold of.

Ortiz has been the guy for the Red Sox for so long, admitting that he is struggling at the plate is something many people will refuse to believe, but his stat line is down and so is the Red Sox offense.

Red Sox This Year vs. Last Year

Red Sox

So far, through nine games this year, we’ve learned that the Red Sox can score runs. Lots of runs. We’ve also learned that they will give up runs. Sometimes, lots of runs.

Through the first nine games in 2015, the Sox have scored 50 runs, compared to 37 runs Red Soxscored in the first nine games last year. Having a 6-3 record now is also much nicer than the 4-5 start they got off to a year ago.

A major difference this year in the offense is the addition of Hanley Ramirez. He leads the club with 4 home runs and nine RBI. He is also tops with a slugging percentage of .611.  These numbers project to Hanley hitting around 20 HR and driving in close to 80. Only one player last year has higher totals than those: David Ortiz with 35 HR and 104 RBI.

Big Papi is off to good start through his first seven games, with 2 HR and 3 RBI. His season stats project out to 31 HR, 93 RBI with a .283 batting average. With Ramirez batting behind Ortiz, he’s bound to see better pitches.

Dustin Pedroia got off to a very hot start, already hitting nearly half as many home runs (3) in nine games as he had last year (7) in 135 games. This projects out to 11 HR, 67 RBI, and a .283 average, all surpassing last year’s numbers (7/53/.278.)

Two other infielders are off to hot starts, with Pablo Sandoval hitting .306 and Xander Bogaerts hitting at a .382 clip. Also doing it all is center fielder Mookie Betts, who has had success at every level of pro baseball and might not be hitting for a heavy average at only .225, but has 2 HR, 8 RBI, and leads the team in stolen bases with three. He also leads the team in exciting defense, as was depicted on Opening Day in Fenway Park when he took away a sure two-run dinger from Bryce Harper in the first inning.

So what does all of this mean? That the Red Sox offense is off to a good start, averaging 6.22 runs per game, scoring six or more runs in the first nine games of the season, which leads the majors. That they’ve won three straight series to open the season for the first time since 1952. It’s the pitching, though, that is cause for concern.

Collectively, the staff has an ERA pf 4.75, which is 27th out of 30 MLB teams. Individually, three pitchers have ERAs higher than 7.50. (Justin Masterson: 7.59, Clay Buchholz: 7.84, and Wade Miley: 10.57.) Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello have book looked strong early on.

So if the team can hit, but pitching is a problem, how do you solve it? Trade some hitters, of which there are plenty, with more being groomed in the minors.

Brock Holt leads the team in batting right now with a .533 average, but they can’t find a regular spot in the line-up for him. Daniel Nava is hitting over .300, and he isn’t a regular. Shane Victorino plays regularly, but is only hitting .130, while Allen Craig is only hitting 083.

With Holt tearing it up, and Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo waiting, and Yaon Moncada not far behind, it might be time to trade some bats and get into the arms race.

Random Thoughts From MLB’S First 48 Hours

MLB's first 48 hours Big Papi and Obama

Here are my random thoughts from MLB’s first 48 hours of the 2014 season:

Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington broke new ground Tuesday when he appeared at the White House with the team to be honored by the President. Former GM Theo Epstein opted to skip both of his teams’ appearances.

Although Jenny Dell is no longer on the Red Sox beat, she too was at The White House today, with boyfriend Will Middlebrooks. One has to wonder if the South Lawn was littered with discarded sunflower seeds when the 2013 World Champions left the grounds.

Big Papi stole the show at The White House when he took a selfie with President Obama. Apparently, this is the first selfie the President has been in since December, when he and Danish prime minister Helle-Thorning Schmidt decided it would be a good idea to take one at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Our nation’s skipper mispronounced Mike Napoli’s last name (Nuh-POE-lee), but he has almost a year to get it right with Pierzynski when the 2013 World Series Champions return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as the 2014 champs.

Los Angeles Angels hitting coach, Don Baylor, broke his leg while catching the ceremonial first pitch from recently retired Vladimir Guerrero on Monday night. For those of us who remember Baylor when he was the Red Sox DH in the late 80s, he’d have been much better off just letting Guerrero’s pitch him.

If you have $20,000,000 to $30,000,000 you can spare and you appreciate art, get to New York City next month when Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Rookie” is auctioned off. The painting shows pitcher Frank Sullivan, right fielder Jackie Jensen, catcher Sammy White, second baseman Billy Goodman, and the greatest hitter who ever lived, Ted Williams. One can only wonder what a painting involving Kevin Millar doing shots and Johnny Damon doing naked pull-ups in the clubhouse would have fetched.

David Ortiz Is In The Best Shape Of His Life

David ortiz

For years, Boston Red Sox fans have loved the round clean-up hitter known as Big Papi. But this spring, fans will notice a much different looking David Ortiz.

Ortiz posted the picture up above on Twitter on February 3. It appears he has been work hard to add muscle to his 6’4 frame this off-season.

Along with the picture, he tweeted out “Finishing my workout to have another monster season for all those media hater that still doubting!!!” Obviously, Ortiz was clearly sending a message to media members who don’t believe the Red Sox should give him a contract extension.

Posted below is what Ortiz looked like last season. You can defiantly see the difference in his body from last year and the way he looks now.

 

 

The 38-year-old is entering the final year of his current two-year-contract, which is worth up to $30 million. Ortiz has made news recently saying he is looking for an extension that will keep him in Boston past 2014.

Last season, Ortiz hit .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs last season. He also won the World Series MVP and became an inspirational figure to the city of Boston after the Boston Marathon bombing.

We don’t know if Red Sox management will give Ortiz the contract extension he is looking for. What we do know is Ortiz has worked hard this off-season and has dedicated himself to be in great shape.

Big Papi’s Injury: The Silver Lining

big papi

 Big Papi’s absence due to his sore right heel solidifies the only thing we know for sure about this Red Sox team: its opening day roster will be the most haphazard the team has had since the Fenway Sports Group took over in February of 2002.

Or, at least, seemingly the most disorganized roster since the almost-magical 2003 season. That team seemed solidified now that we can look back and reflect. But the likes of Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, and Big Papi were unknowns, cast-off by their previous teams and given a shot at redemption by the Red Sox—not unlike Johnny Gomes, Stephen Drew, and Mike Napoli.

Perhaps Big Papi’s injury is the final cue Sox fans needed: this isn’t a team your rich older cousin will take his clients to go see. This is the team we’ve secretly desired all along, ever since we won it all in ’04.

The most beloved teams in a given city is very much a cultural occurrence. The Pittsburg Steelers, win or lose, must be the most physical team, or their fans will not love them as much as past teams; The Lakers must be flashy, and the Yankees must walk and talk with class and confidence. The best and most beloved teams seem to always reflect their respective fan-bases.

We like the Patriots because they win, but we love them because of their motto: next man up. We love these recent Bruins teams because they play hockey the way it’s supposed to be played, the way it was played when we were members of the original six: play with purpose, be physical, and play for your teammates. This Celtics team confused us before Rondo went down; it had the talent but not the chemistry, it had the individual work ethic but the team lacked a cooperative identity. Then Rondo went down, everyone had to step up or the ship would sink, and suddenly the Celtics moved the ball the way they did in 2008 and in the 1980’s. A city’s team should feed from its fans’ identities and from the franchise’s history.

We like our Sox team to be the underdog. That’s how it always used to be, and that’s how our favorite teams—the 03’ and 04’ Red Sox—played the game. We had to be scrappier, smarter, luckier, and, when the moment called for it, our most talented members had to be at their best. The Sox are back. Let’s just hope the W’s are back, too.