It’s been tough watching Boston’s sports teams (aside from the Patriots) slowly fading away from the successes they enjoyed during the 2001-2010 decade, one during which the city became known to many as “Title Town.” And while Patriots fans are rejoicing following the signing on cornerback Aqib Talib – he very well could be the difference maker this time ’round- I can’t help myself in being more excited about the resigning of David Ortiz. The man is finally getting his due from the Red Sox.
Many have been critical of Ortiz’s public statements about his displeasure with the Red Sox front office – given his leadership role on the team, they see it as being inappropriate. I have always vehemently disagreed with this sentiment, although I understand it. Few players on any team, ever, have meant to their organization what Ortiz has meant to the Red Sox. In his 10 seasons in Boston, Ortiz has been an All-Star 9 times. He’s won the Silver Slugger at his position 5 times, and has come in the top 5 in MVP voting 5 times as well. Not to mention the fact that he almost single-handedly delivered the Red Sox their first World Series title in 86 years – that’s right, without David Ortiz the Red Sox are still the Cubs.
Given his production, the fact that Ortiz is viewed as an all-around good guy, and the fact that he is revered by teammates, the Red Sox front office’s treatment of him was inexcusable. If ever a player was to be given a “respect” contract based on his past contributions to the club, Ortiz would have been the perfect candidate. But given that his production hasn’t slowed one bit, Ortiz was owed a multi-year deal. Thank God he finally got it. You want to talk about “culture” issues with the Red Sox? It starts in the front office. Ortiz wasn’t making absurd demands, and it’s a telling sign that the Red Sox are finally showing him the appreciation he deserves.
Ortiz’s 2012 campaign was shortened to 90 games due to injury, but he still managed to put up numbers that would be a solid 162 game season for most of the league – a .318 average, 23 home runs, 60 RBI, 26 doubles, and a .415 OBP. But his own offensive contributions aside, Ortiz is the perfect fit for the rebuilding Red Sox. Will Middlebrooks recently said to ESPN, “He (Ortiz) always said if you’ve got any questions, call me. Any questions in the offseason — non-baseball-related, baseball-related – call me. It’s awesome. That’s why he’s loved like he is, he’s an open book to everyone. He’s been a huge help to me.” If the next generation of Red Sox hitters is learning from Ortiz, the future is bright.
Finally, there are the actual terms of Ortiz’s deal. He’ll be paid $26 million over 2 years, with incentives that can push his total pay to $30 million. Frankly, $13 million is a steal for Ortiz – and dangling a $4 million carrot in front of him for performance is a wise move as well. I would have been heartbroken if Ortiz had gone elsewhere, and I wouldn’t have blamed him given how he has been treated by the front office. I’m happy to say this worked out as well as it could have – I like your style, Ben Cherington.