Ortiz Declines Ceremony in Tampa

As the regular season dwindles down, David Ortiz experiences his final stops in Major League cities. Each final go-around brings about a new ceremony for Big Papi; creative gifts and giant checks have come home with Ortiz seemingly every road trip. This Sunday, however, Ortiz chose to focus on a more serious matter in his final stop to Tropicana Field: his late friend Jose Fernández.

The baseball world was shaken Sunday morning with news of the death of one of its budding Ortiz declines ceremonyyoung stars, José Fernández of the Miami Marlins. Fernández was one of the best young pitchers in the game, winning the Rookie of the Year in 2013. His meteoric rise often drew comparisons to Pedro Martinez, Sandy Koufax, and Clayton Kershaw. The 24-year old Cuban defector had plenty of character outside of baseball, too. He was once imprisoned for trying to leave Cuba and, once he was able to leave, he saved his own mother from drowning on the voyage to America.

Fernández was killed in a boating accident around 3 AM along with two other friends. The news spread around the sports world, effecting not only the Marlins but Miami, as well as all of baseball. In the Red Sox clubhouse, no one was more likely effected than the retiring designated hitter.

Ortiz and Fernández were good friends; the young star idolized Big Papi growing up. Ortiz and Fernández’s friendship was on full display in this summer’s All-Star Game in San Diego. Fernández reportedly told him he’d “groove him” a pitch that he could hit, but instead walked him. The two exchanged laughs and Ortiz even tried to convince him to come to Boston in free agency.

Ortiz Defers The Day To Fernández

Of course Ortiz was stricken with grief as he prepared for his final game in Tampa Bay. Instead of an elaborate on-field ceremony, as has become customary, Ortiz said he’d rather accept his gifts privately, leaving the day to celebrate Fernández. To honor him, he put the initials “JF 16” on his hat. Every team held a moment of silence in memory and Ortiz got emotional in the Red Sox dugout.

As far as his gifts, Ortiz got an oil painting of his 500th home run which he hit in Tampa last September, and 34 handmade cigars. They were presented to him in the bowels of the Trop by Evan Longoria and Chris Archer of the Rays. So, say what you want about these retirement tours and David Ortiz, but he definitely let his class take over this time. For Big Papi, and so many around the MLB, Sunday was a shocking reminder of the fragility of life and he handled it in the classiest way he could have.

Kudos to you, Papi.

Will the Red Sox Pursue Jose Fernandez?

Let’s face it. The Red Sox pitching isn’t as bad as people think, but it needs work. The level of expectation placed on David Price wore him out. Price is among the league’s leaders in strikeouts and has racked up nine wins as of July 19th. His ERA over 4 and his seven losses, however, are more than people expected. Rick Porcello and Steven Wright are marching closer to becoming the team’s top two pitchers. If the Red Sox pursue Jose Fernandez, however, it would be the missing piece in the Red Sox rotation. The Red Sox Nation should pay attention to this potential move, especially since David Ortiz recently commented that this idea should become a reality.

Why Fernandez? There’s a few good reasons the Red Sox should pursue him. First, inRed Sox Pursue Jose Fernandez 3,685 starts, Miami Marlins’ pitchers have had only four games with 14 strikeouts. Fernandez, however, has pitched four games with 14 strikeouts in only 65 starts. Since his debut in 2013, Fernandez has accumulated a 33-13 win/loss record with a 2.44 ERA. Fernandez was Rookie of the Year in 2013 and is already a two-time All-Star. In four seasons, Fernandez has accumulated over 500 strikeouts. On top of all that, he’s one 23 years old. Fernandez hasn’t even entered the prime of his career yet. Put him in a rotation with Price, Porcello, Wright, and Eduardo Rodriguez, and you’d have a much stronger pitching staff.

Right now the best way for the Red Sox to pursue Fernandez is through a trade. The Red Sox minor league farm system is packed with both offensive and defensive talent. While I’d hate to see him go, Michael Kopech is a hot prospect in the Red Sox farm system. He can throw 105 MPH and has the potential to become an ace (If he can stay out of trouble). Yoan Moncada recently had his first multi-homer game with a total of seven in 21 games with AA Portland. He’s also a switch-hitter, a valuable skill any team would appreciate having. Offering both of these prospects to Miami would be a difficult deal to turn down.

Whatever happens, if the Red Sox pursue Jose Fernandez, they’d only be strengthening their own staff. Fernandez is a prime pitcher, and he’d make the team’s rotation a solid defensive powerhouse.