David Ortiz gave an interview with WEEI, and the big topic, not surprisingly, was his future in Boston. He has a one-year, $12.5 million option. Despite the fact that’s well above the market rate for aging DH’s these days, he wants a two year deal. Why two years? Here’s why, according to Big Papi:
“I’m not comfortable coming back just for one year because it’s going to be the same roller-coaster that I had this year . . . I just want to cut out all the crap and go back to the guy I was before, a happy guy who doesn’t have to be answering questions that have nothing to with anything but controversy . . . That’s where I came back to not wanting just one year, because I know it’s going to be just the same thing. As soon as you struggle for a week, it’s going to be the same thing. People saying you are old, saying you have no bat speed anymore. People talking all kind of crap.”
Like they wouldn’t ask those same questions if he was under a two year deal? Indeed, it would probably be worse, with the “kind of crap” people talking being of the “oh God, we’re stuck with him for 2012 too?” variety. If he’s under a one year deal and he struggles, at least people might take a slightly more philosophical “well, he’s gone after this year” approach.
The fact is that if Ortiz is expecting things to go back to the way they were in 2004-2007, he’s dreaming. Because fans and the media in Boston may be tough, but they’re not dumb. They know that when players reach a certain age that their skills diminish and eventually disappear. They can’t simply say “no worries, Ortiz will be smacking the ball around like crazy soon enough” because as time goes on that simply won’t be true at some point. It was nice that Ortiz was able to rebound from a slow start this season. But there will come a time when he doesn’t, and he can’t expect people to ignore that possibility.
And one final question: how much does Ortiz expect to be paid over two years? If he wants that $12 million or something close to it for both seasons — and given how confident he sounds in the interview, he likely does — a two-year deal would bring even more scrutiny down on him he’s seen previously. Because that’s just a tremendous amount of scratch to give to a, um, 34 year-old DH.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Robert Gsellman has won the No. 4 spot in the Mets’ starting rotation. He adds that the Mets are likely to play things cautiously with lefty Steven Matz. The fifth and final rotation spot will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo.
Gsellman, 23, has had a great spring. The right-hander has allowed three earned runs on 15 hits and four walks with nine strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. That is on the heels of seven solid starts at the end of the 2016 season during which he yielded 12 earned runs on 40 hits and 12 walks with 40 strikeouts in 41 innings.
Matz, 25, is dealing with irritation in his left elbow. He had surgery in October to remove a bone spur and was a Tommy John patient several years ago. It sounds like the Mets are leaning towards having him start the season on the disabled list.
Wheeler, 26, isn’t having a great spring. He’s surrendered seven runs in 7 1/3 innings. Lugo has given up three earned runs in seven spring innings and also looked solid in the World Baseball Classic although he took the loss in the final against the United States.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”