Here's my two cents on the David Ortiz-not-hitting-his-weight-when-he-played-for-the-Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
The Red Sox are screwed.
Maybe Ortiz rights the ship, gets himself to a point where he's hitting .250, with 20+ homers and knocking on the door of 100 RBI, and all would be well. With him hitting a buck-eighty-nine, the Sox are still a half-game out of first in the AL East (basically because the Yanks have played a AAA schedule for the last month). But that's baseball's fool's gold.
If not - if he has truly hit the wall - then the Sox have no recourse but to ride it out or take a huge financial hit.
As it is, Ortiz plays no position in the field. And when he was the runner-up for the 2006 Most Valuable Player award, we all heard that argument when A-Rod wrongly won the trophy. (funny, when I type in "10" into position into my baseball stat program, it accepts it...moving right along...)
But without him using his first baseman's mitt but 7-8 times a year during the regular season - and hopefully 4-7 times during the World Series - when it's gametime, he hits and sits.
So if Ortiz were to be platooned at DH, it would greatly diminish the Sox' depth - which (the depth), I think, is somewhat of a fallacy. Perhaps the return of Mark Kotsay helps that, but not a whole heck of a lot. The Sox have a pretty weak bench.
But go back to the Ortiz-off-the-bench argument as a pinch hitter. In reality, there are two positions that would potentially PH for: shortstop and catcher. And it's most likely just SS.
You're not pinch hitting Ortiz for Youkilis (1B/3B), Pedroia (2B), Lowell (3B), Bay (LF), Ellsbury (CF), or Drew (RF). Francona has shown he'll PH for Drew, but with a righty (Baldelli at this point).
So if Ortiz PH's for Green or Lugo (or Jed Lowrie), then it's a three-person move: the player who comes out, the Ortiz at-bat, then the player who has to play SS next inning. If it's a game-winning inning, then all is bread and roses. But most likely not.
Ortiz is (most likely) not going to PH for Kottaras, because Varitek is going to take his spot in the field. And vice versa.
Potentially...and I mean potentially in that rare sort of instance where you need a long ball...Ortiz could PH for Ellsbury. But both are left-handed hitters, so there would not be a huge benefit in terms of a pitching matchup. And if Ortiz were to get on base, you have a very slow runner whereas Ellsbury getting on via a walk or a single has great potential to become a double.
A trade is very unlikely. What team is going to help Boston rid themselves of an $11-million dollar designated hitter that is closer to being designated (for assignment) than he is a hitter? What would it take to get - as the rumors say - Cleveland's Victor Martinez? At minimum, it would take Clay Buchholz, Manny Delcarmen, and then someone else. Aubrey Huff? No, thanks. Wily Mo Pena? I just giggled a bit. Although the Pats could use him at tight end.
Unlike the CF situation in 2007 and 2008, the Red Sox do not have a looming
replacement in the minors. There are no power hitters in the organization. There are very few available for trades. And there are even fewer in free agency. Matt Holliday (FA in 2009) comes to mind. Google his stats right now.
Additionally, the last few power hitters that did hit free agency were: Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Manny Ramirez. Google who their agent is.
The best the Sox can hope for is a reasonable facsimile of the early 2008 David Ortiz, with the numbers I listed at the top of the post. Methinks the 2004-2007 Big Papi is all gone-no more, save for the museum exhibits at Fenway and in Cooperstown.
The Sox have no home run hitters on their roster. They have guys that can hit home runs - Bay, Youkilis, Lowell, even Varitek so far - but none could be classified as "home run hitters." That title used to belong to Big Papi.
Any future titles are incumbent on Ortiz morphing into Stella and getting his groove back.