Thursday, August 03, 2006

Some Perspective On Papi

Enough already.

It's bad enough reading Shaughnessy the other day about Papi. Now Bill Simmons is comparing him to Larry Bird???

Make it stop, Lord. Make it stop. This man-love-athon for Papi needs a room at the Shady Arms.

Yes, I understand how sick he's hitting right now. Since 2004, he is the most clutch hitter in the majors. He had a VERY healthy argument for MVP last year. He's the runaway favorite to finally win it this year. With everything that's happened to Boston the last two years with injuries and the like...he and the Manny are the only thing to keep that team alive in the playoff race. He's an amazing offensive force and a great ambassador for the game.

But as wrong as it would be....I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't win it again. If I had a vote, it would be for Papi as much as it pains me. But just like there are voters who will never vote for pitchers...some will never vote for a DH.

If anyone in the AL has a hot two months and he cools down a bit....Papi loses once again if it's close and they play the field. Guaranteed. It's messed up and but it's reality.

And while I don't agree, I can see why the haters will vote way they do.

Papi-backers will say, "What's the big deal? He doesn't play the field. So what?" And the haters would say (and they'd be right)that hitting is only part of a winning combination. Defense is an important equation as well. Part of the reason the Sox are still tied for first is that they're one of the best defensive teams in baseball. They don't leak runs like they did when Millar and company were there. Good defense means less pitches thrown by your pitchers, which means fresher pitchers for the stretch run. The Yankees know something about spent pitchers from 2004.

And on nights like this is when complete players show their worth. Say whatever you want about A-Rod's metrosexual tendencies. But the fact that he's playing solid defense, starting around the horn DP's in this hellish weather.....Along with driving in runs, stealing bases and turning singles into doubles like he's done the last two nights....That's pretty friggin impressive. What was Papi doing while his teammates are in the field? He's in the dugout, he's watching tape....getting a rub-down....but he's not in that oppressive heat fielding his position because he doesn't have one.

You can't tell me that he doesn't have a huge advantage over players who have to run and throw in oppressive conditions. He's a glorified cheerleader while his teammates are trying to get three outs so he can be the hero.

The DH was created for two primary reasons. To put asses in the seats with added offense and to create a roster spot for older players who can still hit, but can't play the field on an everyday basis.

Ortiz is 30 years old. His ass should be in the field.

The other thing about Ortiz that people seem to forget is the guy who hits behind him.

Forget Larry Legend. A more apropos comparison to Papi is Roger Maris.

A very good player who hit in front of a first-ballot Cooperstown guy in a park that was tailor made for him. Mantle was a Triple Crown threat any year he was healthy. Manny is arguably the best right handed hitter and RBI man of his generation. These guys would get their stats regardless of who was hitting in front of them or behind them. You can't say that for Papi or Maris.

And Maris isn't going to sniff any parts of Cooperstown posthumously because of a bad shoulder. His stats just don't add up. Papi would need five or more years of production at the level he's at now for consideration. An MVP or another World Series wouldn't hurt either. I doubt Manny's around for another five years. It'll be tough without that protection to get those numbers.

The one thing I'll give Maris over Papi. Maris was a superior outfielder and baserunner. Papi is...well, Papi.

So while it's alright to be in awe of what David Ortiz is doing at the plate right now...let's put it in it's proper historical perspective. There's a big difference between being super-human and being a baseball god. He has more a few more trials in store before I can annoint him to Mount Olympus.

And I would still rather have Pujols than Ortiz. Any day of the week. He's not doing this if he has to play the field everyday like Albert does.

I know I'm jumping the gun a bit. But last night's game made me very excited about the next two months.

The long grinding at-bats. Working counts. If they're this relentless now with Abreu in the lineup and Giambi has a night off...imagine what it will be like when Jason, Sheff and Matsui are in there?

Cue the Imperial March. Some Younglings are about to buy it.

That sixth inning was a thing of beauty. Even Abreu striking out after a million pitch at bat was ok because Alex picked him up with a two run single. Jeter working a bases loaded walk was perfect example of how you approach that situation. The pitcher is in trouble, not you. Make the bastard throw strikes. Hit your pitch, not his.

If we can get away from the whole issue of salary for a minute, and just talk in baseball terms...I think that Abreu coming here can have the effect on him that it had on Paul O'Neill when he was traded here in 1993.

Abreu has power, but he's not a home-run hitter. He's line-drive hitter with power whose at his best when he's hitting the ball to all fields. He can pull one into the stands when he has to. But he's more comfortable hitting the ball the opposite field for doubles.

Just like O'Neill, he tried to become a home run hitter when it went against the natural flow of his game. O'Neill came here and thrived because he could be the hitter he was supposed to be. Not what Lou Piniella wanted him to be.

Abreu can do the same thing. That big contract he got made him try to be something he's not. That's why I hate these big deals. If the money is going to make a player play outside of his comfort zone, then it's counter-productive. He was being paid, BMOC money when his team wasn't ready for primetime. Here, he can play his game. Which is to hit .300 to all fields, 20 plus homers, 100 plus RBIs, 100 runs scored, 100 walks and 20 stolen bases. About a career .900 OPS guy. I'll take that. That's Bernie in his prime without the steals. We don't need him trying hit homers like A-Rod or Giambi.

Here, he can thrive because he's not expected to be the savior. Just another cog in a very powerful wheel. The idea of having this lineup along with Sheff and Matsui in September is scary. Buster Olney thinks that the Yankees might try and keep Sheff for next year and make him a DH or part-time first baseman. The payroll would be ridiculous if that happened. But you know what? I don't care. The haters are going to find a reason to kill us. Better to give them a reason by winning.

As the injury bug has moved up north to New England, our guys are rounding back into shape. Strange game, baseball is. Who wins and loses is dependent on when people get hurt...not how many. Losing Veritek for a month is going hurt them in ways they can only imagine right now.

With Wang pitching, last night must have been the Anti-Coors Field for the Jays.

He throws such a heavy sinker with such velocity to begin with. Imagine what it must have been like trying to hit that thing in this heavy, nasty air? Probably like trying to hit a shotput with a broomstick.

Eight more shutout innings, plus one more night we don't have to use Proctor, Farnsworth or Mo. With the Sox having to use Papelbon and Timlin nearly every night(and it'll probably be worse this month with half their rotation a question mark) don't think these innings won't add up when the stretch run in September starts.

You might not have to pay now, you might not have to pay later...but eventually, you will pay.


Blogger Metstradamus said...

Writers who will never vote for a DH should never be allowed to write that the A.L. is the superior league...because it's the DH that makes the A.L. so.

I'm not going to say Papi should win the award this season, but he shouldn't be exculded because he doesn't play the field. If he's most valuable as a DH, then so be it. A DH might have just as tough a time making the Hall of Fame as a reliever has, yet a reliever won the MVP all the way back in 1984. So if Papi has the stats, he should be considered.

So if A-Rod, for example, gets hot and matches Papi numbers wise, should he automatically win the MVP because he plays the field? Why should merely playing the field tip the scales in A-Rod's favor while all of Papi's walk off hits don't tip them in his favor? And A-Rod blows in the field this year. (And I only use A-Rod as an could use any player who was a detriment in the field this year.)

Papi doesn't play the field. Big deal. If his manager deems him more valuable by NOT playing the field, then why should he be penalized for playing a position made legal by major league baseball? I don't buy it, I'll never buy it, and if you want to stop this dilemma, get rid of the stupid DH. Until then, value should be value.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Darth Marc said...

I think the fact that a guy rarely if has to play the field and is sitting in the dugout while his teammates are diving around the field is not a small thing. It's a huge advantage. It's not using a golf cart in the PGA while every has to walk. But it's close.

The fact they have the DH is only part of the reason AL is a better league. Not the only reason. That's a separate posting all together.

I don't disagree with your premise. On the contrary. But to play Devil's advocate once again, if what a player brings to the table defensively makes a difference along with his offensive stats...I don't think it should be discounted either.

Let's say for instance A-Rod doesn't make another error this year and makes a number of sterling plays that save some huge games for the Yankees. Let's also say that he has his typical sick numbers in August and manages to catch up to Ortiz offensively. He doesn't catch him but he's close. The Yankees as a result win the east again. What do you do?

A-Rod won last year because 1)His numbers in were the equal or superior to Ortiz except in RBIs and RISP and 2) He played a stellar third base. Plus his team finished ahead of the Sox. What happens if that happens again?

I wouldn't have had a problem if Papi had the MVP and definitely won't have a problem if he wins it this year. He deserves it. But there is another side of the argument that has equal legitimacy.

4:42 PM  
Blogger George said...

I do think that there is merit in weighing the fact that a player is one dimensional as a part of the MVP equation. I think that a pitcher or DH would have to have an off the chart season to win the MVP. I think that last year A-Rod and Papi were very close in terms of offensive statistics and that A-Rod won a gold glove to boot really made him the MVP. That being said, Ortiz is have that off the chart season that deems a DH worthy of the MVP. I do think that there is such a ground swell of Papi-backers who think that he got screwed last year, especially in the media, that I don't see what anyone could do in the next two months to take the award away from him.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Darth Marc said...

Good point, George. Add the typical anti-NY bias and I find it hard to believe that Ortiz won't win it this year unless he gets hurt. But stranger things have happened. That's why they play the games. Should be a fun two months.

10:55 AM  
Blogger FenwayParked said...

Can you imagine BIG Papi hitting the same size ball as Larry Bird (pause for genuflection)used?

3:08 AM  

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