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Saturday, 04 February 2017 01:15

The Red Sox Lack Of A True DH In 2017 Will Become A Major Detriment To Their Success

Written by 
Ramirez & Young Ramirez & Young CBS Boston

As David Ortiz has ridden off into the sunset, he leaves behind a plethora of questions for the Red Sox 2017 season as they struggle to fill his gaping void. 

The days are finally upon Red Sox nation where we sit in the shadows of what was a brilliant career of David Ortiz. We cried when he raised his hat standing tall with tears running down his own cheeks as he said his final goodbye to the Fenway Faithful once more. The end to his illustrious career certainly wasn’t what we were all hoping for. Hoisting the World Series trophy high into the air was something that we were all expecting because come on, what other storybook ending could you have hoped for? It happened for that scumbag Peyton Manning, why couldn’t it happen for our teddy bear, Big Papi?

But just as we all have to do when your high school sweetheart breaks your heart and starts dating someone better looking than you, we have to move on. Not saying that happened. Who breaks up with me? (Definitely was dumped a few times).

Although the Red Sox front office is being forced to move on from Big Papi, it seems as though their sense of urgency to fill the void is non-existent. Is it just me who is noticing this trend?

As Free Agency’s doors swung open and negotiations got off to a tire screeching start, there were a couple of sluggers on the market whom the Red Sox could have thrown money at and their DH struggles would have vanished before our eyes. The two noted names were both former Toronto Blue Jays. We had 40+ home run hitter, Edwin Encarnacion, asking for a truckload of cash. Was he worth it? Absolutely not but hey, that’s what not having a salary cap does to this league. Players see what one man was paid and then their eyes light up like the north star because they know by the time they get to free agency, they can ask for more than that. My God what was the MLB thinking about not having a salary cap? It is ABSURD. That is my most infuriating gripe that I hold with this league. You screwed yourself royally and now you just cannot fix it.

Getting back on track here, Edwin Encarnacion would have been the best thing that you could have received in replacing the most feared DH in baseball history. Although he does not hit for a phenomenal average, he makes up for it with the amount of bombs he hits per season. And I am telling you right now; this guy would have made the Green Monster his… well you know. Encarnacion signed with probably the worst team that you could imagine from the Red sox perspective, and that was the team who knocked them out of the playoffs with one faithful sweep, the Cleveland Indians.

And the second name that was floating around the market for quite a while was Jose Bautista. Joey Bats sat on the market much longer than anyone had anticipated. Yes, he is one of the more hated players in the MLB, but at the same time, his power bat is worth something. Now did I want him inserted into the Red Sox lineup? Absolutely not.

The question that I continue to bare to my beautiful readers is this. What was the Red Sox biggest issue offensively last season? Getting men who are in scoring position to actually cross the plate.

With that, Jose Bautista only hit .234 last season accompanied by just 22 home runs. If your average is that poor and you want to become the designated hitter, then you better believe that you should be hitting close to 40 home runs per season.

After battling the market and being told by the Orioles that the reason they don’t want to sign him is because their fans don’t like him, Bautista ended up back in Toronto once again.

Alright, so Cleveland and Toronto both have their power hitters slotted for next season, but the Red Sox still do not. Is that going to hurt the team?

Currently, the Sox are a toss up between being perceived as the number one team in the American League, and the number two. And here I do believe that if the Red Sox had David Ortiz for just one more season, they would be seen as not only the American League favorites, but the World Series favorites as well.

The addition of Chris Sale to the roster without losing a sole on the major league starting lineup is much more monumental than what people are giving it credit for. You were able to wrap up one of the top two pitchers in baseball and not put a dent into your starting lineup? Somebody pinch me I must be dreaming.

Although this move put the rest of the American League on notice, does it make them the most feared team through the conference?

From my perspective there is absolutely no way that they are the best team in the conference let alone the league because of the revolving door that will be their DH spot.

Someone that I assume that we will see as the main DH throughout the entirety of the season is Hanley Ramirez who in the Red Sox defense, has unofficially been seen as Papi’s replacement since he signed his free agent deal now over two seasons ago. But this was before we saw what we had in Ramirez over at first base. Do not let anybody tell you that he is mediocre over on the not-so-hot corner. The guy was an absolute stud over there and proved his worth from April until October.

But now with the vacancy that is the DH spot, I do not see how you can make him your full time DH for a majority of the year. Do you? Because the only issue that becomes openly evident is that if you make that move, who plays first? Well my friends, there was another, not so blockbuster deal made on the opening day of the winter meetings back in December, and that was the free agent signing of former Texas Rangers gold glove first baseman, Mitch Moreland.

Now Moreland is known for one of two things. He is a magician with his glove on the field. Moreland makes very little mistakes and is by no means a downgrade defensive wise. However, his bat is the glaring issue that makes me become hesitant with making him the full time first baseman.

Last season the left-handed hitter was only able to wrack up a .233 batting average. Hey wait, .233 with 22 home runs? Why don’t we give him a huge free agent contract! Those are the same numbers that Jose Bautista got! Now see how foolish you Bautista lovers sounded? Please. The guy is a bum.

Okay, so you cannot keep Ramirez as your permanent DH because of Moreland’s bat. So what can you do? There is another option that I have heard get tossed around. You add Chris Young as the DH against left handed pitching because, as we all heard entering last season, he mashes lefties like your grandmother’s Thanksgiving potatoes.

Last season Young hit an astounding .329 off of lefties and truly got red-hot midway through the year. His bat became absolutely lethal and was a major spark plug in the middle of the lineup. But again, I just do not see this guy being your designated hitter. Maybe part time like we are saying by just having him step into the box against left handed pitching, but with just nine homers total, does that feel like a suitable predecessor to David Ortiz?

Not having a true DH will hurt this team. If there is one thing that I know about sports it is that a lack of consistency will be the true bullet to the foot or Achilles heal if you will.

A revolving door at any position is not a satisfactory way to go about it. By doing that the team does not truly gain an identity because each and every night, there are new names within the starting lineup.

By having Ramirez sometimes play first and sometimes DH, you will 100 percent hurt his defensive skills. I cannot be the only one to believe that can I? We already saw what happened when he isn’t focused on the position that he is assigned to for the entire season. He is a train wreck and his laziness is palpable. You need to keep this guys head in the game and if you make him your part time DH and part time first baseman, well then he will not put in the attention to detail that he needs to become a star at either of those positions. If you want Ramirez to be your DH he needs to hold that spot full time and this is likewise for firstbase as well.

We will see a major dip in the offense not just because of the lack of David Ortiz; but instead, we will see this dip because of the lack of consistency throughout the lineup.

I want to say that this is the Red Sox year because they were able to swing for the fences and pick up my favorite pitcher in baseball. But I just do not feel that way without a true DH. I wish I did, I really wish I did. But the Red Sox will win the American League East and probably go to the ALCS… but once again, I think that the Cleveland Indians offense will clobber them into the dirt.

 

If you want MORE coverage of your team, check out Red Sox Beat Podcast here on CLNS Radio! The latest episode is below and check us out on ITUNES as well!

Nick Quaglia

Nick is a contributer to the CLNS Red Sox beat team. He is a opinion piece writer who also breaks down games as well as previewing them. You can hear him fill in for some of the CLNS Red Sox Beat Podcasts when needed. 

Nick also owns and operates his own sports blog called CouchGuySports.com where he and a collection of other writers discuss all of the hottest news in sports from Chicago, Boston and New York. 

Previously, he was an intern for WEEI Sports Radio Network's, "The Dale & Holley Show featuring Jerry Thornton". Here, he also was and still is one of the cohosts for WEEI.com's "Teeing Off" golf podcast. 

Sports radio has been apart of Nick's life for the past four years as he has cohosted WDJM 91.3 FM Ram Radio's, "The Sports Huddle" as well as "Draft Day". 

He is a recent, 2016 graduate from Framingham State University with a degree in Communication Arts. 

Nick's a big time Sox fan and passionate for the team. Let's go Sox!

Check him out on Twitter @NickQuag!