The Boston Red Sox don’t have much left to play for in 2012, which is probably a good thing considering that their biggest remaining offensive threat, designated hitter David Ortiz, is likely done for the season; unable to return from an Achilles injury that has left him sidelined since August 25.
Ortiz underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection to try to stimulate recovery, but two weeks after the injection, Ortiz hasn’t improved the way the team had hoped. In a season of drama and disorder in Red Sox Nation, Ortiz has been the rare constant; producing all-star caliber numbers and a steady, veteran presence in the clubhouse.
Ortiz is a free agent after the season and the Red Sox are expected to re-sign him. Coming into 2012, the prospect of re-upping their DH was anything but certain, but with the trade of three huge contracts off the the Dodgers, GM Ben Cherington will have plenty of money to spend and Ortiz will be coming off his best season since 2007, at least in terms of OPS.
The flip side of the argument is that Ortiz will be 37 in November and managed to stay healthy enough in 2012 to play in just 90 games. The prudent move might be to try to get the DH to agree to another one-year deal, but Ortiz wants a multi-year contract and he may be able to get two years on the open market, given his play in 2012.
It’s certainly possible that Ortiz will wind up being part of the 2012 housecleaning. The Red Sox have had a full season’s worth of failure and disappointment since that September collapse in 2011 and after the front office and coaching turnover didn’t right the ship, Cherington began tearing down the roster last month. There is a case to be made that Ortiz didn’t do enough to curb the activities that lead to Terry Francona’s ouster last Fall. While he hasn’t be openly antagonistic with manager Bobby Valentine in the way that, say, Dustin Pedroia has, Ortiz may still be viewed as part of the old guard and therefore part of the problem by Red Sox management.
Red Sox fans have long ago lost their patience with the Bobby Valentine/Ben Cherington regime, and it’s difficult to envision them taking kindly to an all-out rebuild of their beloved ballclub. After shuttling off Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett, Cherington must make moves that will not only quickly improve the team, but endear him to the fanbase. If overpaying for an old DH in 2014 is necessary in order to have that DH in 2013, it’s a move Cherington probably has to make.
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