Above is the link to Ken Rosenthal's latest posts, basically outlining how easy it would be for the Red Sox to replace David Ortiz (the Ortiz of 2009 he is quick to distinguish, not the one of 2003-2007).
Replace him? My immediate reaction was to scream, disprove him, and to write a retort. But after reviewing his post I have to both agree and strongly disagree with him. Within his post he makes reference to the potential trade options for Ortiz, how he may break out of the funk eventually, and how he may be finally finished, i.e. needs to retire soon.
So I can agree with Rosenthal that Papi's power has diminished, his numbers are sinking faster than Fox's reputation, and that the Sox have to do something about him, and that trades are a viable option for any player in his situation. But not Papi. Papi is not a baseball player on a good team. And if Rosenthal were a Sox fan, he would understand what Papi represents. Papi is the answer to the Bambino--one of the greatest players ever whose departure cursed the Red Sox. When the Twins let Papi go (and through a number of trades we got a lot of other great players who also helped), and he came to Boston, we helped another amazing hitter who had carelessly been tossed to the curb. We've done the same for Mike Lowell, John Smoltz, and countless others over the years as well. And the two biggest things the Sox never got: A-Rod and Teixeira, both of whom could have been the undoing of the end of the curse.
The article makes no mention about how disastrous a Big Papi trade would be to Boston--the fans, the stadium, the merchandising, and the team psyche. This isn't Manny Ramirez with antics up the wazoo...neither is it a case of needing to trade the perennial fan favorite Nomar Garciaparra in order to have a real shot at a world championship. The Sox has proven they have what it takes (04 and 07) to take the world championship, but both times Ortiz was healthy.
This is the same case of Jason Varitek, and before him, Jason Bellhorn. Neither one of these hitters was superb, nor were they very liked for a long period of time. Bellhorn would be booed when he struck or popped out in crucial situations, and his average was never above .250 and he never hit any more often than Dougie goin' deep tonight! Mirabelli, whom the Sox stuck with and even resigned (at 40!) to another year on the squad. Varitek has a deplorable season last year, but began to rebound at the end of the season and has so far tried to prove himself this season. The secret weapon for the Sox is of course the young talent they have in Youkilis and Pedroia (both benched at the moment with injuries) and the promise held in Jason Bay. The aging stars Mike Lowell and JD Drew will eventually have to be replaced like old car parts when they finally clunker to a stop (as anyone can see right now.) However, there is no replacing Big Papi.
He is not a dime-a-dozen personality. Notice I referred to him as a personality, not a hitter. For years it was the Papi show and the Manny sidekick, but with Ed McMahon involved in scandals and a hatred beginning to brew for him, can Sullivan really be ousted from The Tonight Show because of some low ratings?
Absolutely not. The answer at the very worst is to demote him to sitting on the bench and resting, or to spending more time working on hitting and coordination, which he is obviously rusty on since all his injuries have occurred. Getting him trim, refocused and well-oiled is the key to Papi's comeback and the Red Sox know it. In no way will they ever trade away David Ortiz.
It would be far too damaging to a city that is so wrapped up in Papi fever that even if he were to retire at the end of this year, his legacy would be remember as fondly, if not more, than Ted Williams or any other Sox great that has withstood the tests of time and occasional failure.
One if by land, two if by sea refers to the classic tale about the lanterns to-be-hung in the church when the British were to be spotted. But it can dually serve as a metaphor here. Ortiz is going down, whether it be by old age, a lack of productivity, or a trade, but either way he is being 'invaded' by an evil force that has the potential to annihilate him. Our options are either to hang one lantern and trade him, give him up with a young pitcher (most likely Lester), for another JD Drew who will be good, but not superb like the old Papi. Or to hang two lanterns and really dig in for the long haul with him. Really evaluate him and put him on a specialized program to get his hitting and focus back together.
So much of what he is going through is mental, and sports writers citing that the Sox could easily replace him are not going to help him break this funk and psyche himself back up. He needs to relax, have some time to work on his strengths, and reemerge as a hitter who does not necessarily need to be constantly clutch, but that can consistently hit between .250 and .300 and who hits at least 30-50 home runs each season.
Trading Papi would destroy what the Red Sox have fought for nearly 100 years to reverse. He symbolizes what Sox fans have yearned for for all this time, and his trade would be almost a relinquishing of the dream of a team that has the chance to really win and make a city happy. And in this economy, every city needs someone it can root for, and though the Celtics, the Bruins and the Patriots are all doing well, the Red Sox are to Boston what reversing is to cursing.