Still supporting Papi, standing pat?

David Ortiz continues to struggle, and is now hitting a paltry .193/.298/.298 for the year. I’m still not convinced that Papi’s career is over, though I’m fine with dropping him to 5th or 6th in the lineup, as Francona did against the Twins this week. Before you call me crazy, recall that Big Papi was hitting just .198/.305/.351 on May 2 last year, and that turned out okay, wrist and all. Of course, this is the end of May and numbers are starting to mean something at this stage of the year, so I’m not ruling anything out, either. It’s quite possible that his wrist is not as whole as everyone thinks it is. If that’s the case, you can not simply cut him or trade him, because he could very well return to form, given enough rest.

All that said, I would be in favor of the Red Sox picking up a cheap insurance policy for DH, should Ortiz need to hit the DL for any extended period of time. One of my personal favorite blocked players is Micah Hoffpauir, a 29-year old 1B/OF for the Cubs who has had his playing time limited because of Derrek Lee and his outfield defense. He is a big (6-3, 190) left-handed slugger who is a .307/.363/.503 hitter in 179 MLB PA, and compiled a .302/.358/.512 line in 5 Triple-A seasons. Bill James has him hitting .289/.338/.513 this season. I’ll take that from my DH. Yes, he is an old rookie-type with a perceived limited ceiling, but he has a power stroke with decent peripherals, and that is why he could be available for someone like Manny Delcarmen.

The other problem areas on this team right now are starting rotation, defense, shortstop and catcher. With Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden banging harder and harder on the door, the rotation should right itself in time, and Brad Penny could be flipped for a useful player. Shortstop could be solved in as few as three weeks, when Jed Lowrie is projected to return. Catcher is not a huge concern until after this year. So here’s a bold solution that improves our team defense and solves the DH problem: why not acquire a left-fielder and move Jason Bay to DH?

Bay may not seem very deficient in the left, but he is. He doesn’t make errors, but his range is well below average to poor, and his arm is not doing us any favors out there, either. Fangraphs has him at -6.5 runs out there already this year by UZR. So get someone like Hoffpauir, who could also play left about as well, and allow Bay to DH once in a while, to rest him and keep his bat in this lineup. Or get someone who’s a decent hitter and more defensive-minded, and improve the defense. Either way, it could turn out that the replacement for Ortiz is already on this team.

The other option would be to make a big splash by trading for a Matt Holliday. I’d be interested in that as long as the bounty is kept to one top pitching prospect and one mid-level guy. But remember that Holliday is a Boras guy and will be looking for a max contract after this season. That could mean the Sox may not be able to re-sign J-Bay.


2 Responses to Still supporting Papi, standing pat?

  1. scoty32 says:

    Some really good suggestions in there, I hadn’t heard any talk of Hoffpauir up until now.

    I totally agree that the Red Sox need to get someone as Papi insurance, but don’t you think they’d be better served going with a more established guy who we *know* can do it in the big leagues, like a Victor Martinez or Nick Johnson?

    I guess it pretty much rests on your first premise, though, which is that there’s a good chance Ortiz could still turn it around.

    The less likely you think he is to turn it around, the more likely you are to want to go out and get one of those big superstar names to play DH.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    Another alternative on the Cubs: Jake Fox. But he’s a righty bat.

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