Baseball Prospectus' Take:
"Ortiz went from zero to hero last year...[hitting] .264/.356/.548 with 27 dingers in 419 PAs [after June 1]...Ortiz has largely stopped hitting lefties and hit just .223/.323/.415 on the road over the past two seasons."
This is where the Sox lineup takes a scary turn. If Ortiz does what he did in the last 4 months of the season last year then they should have a very solid number 5 hitter. But if his season resembles what he did overall last season with smaller peaks and valleys then this offense really could be in trouble.
But I think there is a clear solution that is really being overlooked here: a good old fashioned righty-lefty platoon that would make Earl Weaver brim with joy. That's right, I'm talking about my celebrity look alike (doppleganger? is that what it is Facebook?) Mike Lowell.
Realistically, the Sox will trade Lowell for 10 cents on the dollar AND absorb anywhere from 75%-90% of his 2010 salary, but why does this have to happen? Is this 36 year old man so fragile that he cannot get over being almost traded this winter? Can he really not get over being relegated to platoon DH and back-up first and third baseman? Mike, if you get truly down about either of these developments I suggest curling up in a big pile of your $12 million you are set to receive this year, stick your thumb in your mouth, grab your ear, and really think about what you are so upset about. If you stick around, face mostly left-handed pitching, minimize your short-comings in the field, and maximize this roster, you may have a shot at another ring and potentially another contract because teams will see all of your virtues this year and few of your weaknesses.
Last year, Ortiz hit righties to the tune of .250/.346/.488, which we could expect to see some improvement on this year if he is getting more rest and only focusing on righties. Last year, Lowell MASHED lefties at a .301/.363/.503 clip. Looks like a pretty damn good platoon to me.
There is some downside to this plan. First of all, Lowell has seemed to indicate he is not willing to play organizational soldier regardless of how much he is being paid. Second, this completely locks any other player out of getting significant ABs at DH this year, which is a spot I'm sure Theo and Tito would occasionally like to slide V-Mart into to save his body. Third, this would mean carrying 14 hitters and 11 pitchers, and even though this makes a TON of sense, it is just not done anymore by big league clubs.
This is all just wishful thinking. Most likely Ortiz is it for us at DH this year (although the team could still form a nifty platoon with V-Mart playing DH against lefties and Tek catching because he still actually hits lefties decently) and Lowell is still ticketed out of town (of late Minnesota has popped up as a possible destination, hopefully for this guy who I had a chance to scout a little this summer in my brief run as a sports agent apprentice).
What this all means is that a lot of the Red Sox offense really hinges on what Big Papi does this year. I was pretty optimistic about the offense a couple weeks ago, but now that I have started these player profiles I have to admit my sunny disposition is waning. We still look to have a pitching and defense monster on our hands, but I fear us dropping more to the middle of the pack or worse offensively than I previously thought. Of course a trade for either this guy or this guy or even my old buddy would cure a lot of ills.