Friday, November 2, 2012

Without Big Papi, say goodbye to 2013 -- and beyond

This is going to sound incredibly boring, but bear with me here.

The central thesis of this blog is to highlight that increasing television revenues to MLB teams will flatten the landscape of "large market teams", a mountain that the Red Sox of yesteryear climbed to the top of.  The Red Sox ascent was funded by an abnormal spike in fan attendance -- paying the highest ticket prices in baseball -- and fan interest outside of Fenway, channeled through NESN.  This abnormal interest in a baseball team was fueled by the Red Sox using the revenues earned to field damn good teams for nearly a decade and a half.  


Baseball is changing, and should the interest of Sox fans ebb while other MLB teams are seeing revenues increase, this will mean that, comparatively, Red Sox revenues will decrease, making it tougher for them to use the lure of money to draw top talent and compete.  So, even though the 2013 Red Sox don't stand much chance of seriously contending for the pennant, they need to do a convincing job of pretending to do such in order to keep fans glued to their seats at Fenway.  After the debacle that was last season, and the collapse of 2011, if Sox fans see any more bullshit in 2013 then Fenway is going to have a lot of empty seats to fill. 

See?  I warned you that would be boring.  But I'm glad you're still reading, because this brings us to David Ortiz.  We all saw what happened to the offense when Big Papi went on the DL last year -- it sucked.  No details needed. 

What was Ortiz worth to the team before his injury, though?  Fangraphs tries to answer the question of player value judging by the numbers they put up, and they say that a little over half a season of Ortiz was valued at $13.3 million last year.  And a full season of Ortiz in 2011, when he wasn't on pace to challenge a couple of Miguel Cabrera's triple crown statistics?  That was $18.6 million.  Had Ortiz played the full 2012 season, he probably would have given the Sox stats for a player valued at $25 million on the open market. 

Right now, though, the Red Sox front office is whining because David Ortiz wants a two year deal worth $14.5 million per year. 

I understand that David Ortiz has heightened age regression and injury risks attached to him right now, but we also must understand the current MLB market -- Ortiz will get this contract from a team.  It'll likely be the Rangers, who look at Ortiz as a cheap option in order to stick with their plan of telling Josh Hamilton to take a fucking hike.  

We all saw what the Red Sox offense was like last year without Ortiz.  Will Ben Cherington double-down with the only player left from the 2004 and 2007 rosters, who is still one of the best hitters in baseball...  Or will he chuck $30-40 million at some shitty veterans like Napoli who will never, ever carry the presence at the plate that Ortiz brings to every at-bat? 

I don't even see why this is debatable.  Without Big Papi, the Red Sox offense will be a joke.  They won't even pretend to compete, which is the one thing that they need to do in 2013.  A team good enough to compete for most of the season will help sell enough overpriced tickets to more than pay off the salary that Ortiz wants; along with helping keep fan interest in the team for years to come.  I mean, this is just a no-brainer.  And if Ortiz walks, fire the whole front office -- from Larry and Ben on down -- because they just don't have a fucking clue. 

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