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.
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.