It means the Red Sox better be going “all in” this year.
Actually, it probably doesn’t. And, it probably shouldn’t. One of the things that still stands out in my mind after reading Lou Gorman’s book One Pitch From Glory is the number of times he referenced needing to win a championship for Mrs. Yawkey. The “win now while we can” attitude certainly seemed to be leading to some poor decisions. But, I wouldn’t mind if they decided to stretch themselves just a little bit.
What it does do is give the Red Sox and end date for their designated hitter. Part of me wonders if that was something that Dave Dombrowski did almost immediately. Sit down with Ortiz and explain the situation. Tell him the bind he was in. Obviously Ortiz isn’t going to play forever. It sure would help the Sox if there was a timeframe in mind. Something to plan around.
So, now the Sox can move forward. They have Papi for one more year. So, as Dombrowski noted, it doesn’t force them into anything. They don’t need to go out and get a left-handed bat yesterday. They have time. The team going into 2016 is exactly the same as it was yesterday.
But, it makes keeping Hanley Ramirez around a lot easier. There will be a spot opening up for a designated hitter after one season. He can try to fumble around at first for a year. Or even switch off with Ortiz every once in a while. From there, the Sox can get an actual first baseman. If it doesn’t work, Hanley at first can be just a one year experiment.
That’s actually rather comforting.
From there, the Sox can try to groom someone else to play first. Maybe that’s someone they already have on the team. Maybe it’s someone they can look for over the course of the season. This move may make them look a little harder at first basemen in their system. But, as I mentioned, it’s not like Ortiz was going to play 10 more ears. So, an 18-year old prospect probably wouldn’t have been on the team with Ortiz anyway. But, they can look things over with a timetable in mind.
So, that’s the big gift that Ortiz just gave Red Sox Nation. Information. He’s allowing the Red Sox to make smart decisions about the present, as well as the future. If they don’t like a situation, they know how long they have to suffer through it. They know when they can change it. They know things.
And that’s so much better than not knowing things.