Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Filling the Slugging Gap

David Ortiz misses Manny. Or Manny's bat, anyway. Sort of. He won't come right out and say it, because he's far too polite, but he's happy to hint about it obliquely. It's pretty clear that he - like Bill Lee - believes the only thing standing between Boston and another ring this year was Manny's ability to hit the long ball. They both might have a point: do a straight-up substitution of Manny for Bay in the ALCS and the difference is, quite frankly, embarrassing. We all deluded ourselves into thinking we wouldn't miss Manny because we had Bay, but those numbers give that delusion the lie: Bay, while good, is no replacement for Manny's greatness.

In an effort to lessen that gap, Ortiz wants the Sox to sign Teixeira. Pursuing the ex-Angels first baseman comes with a few logistical problems - does Boston have the desire to spend the money, what would happen to Mike Lowell - but first, is Teixeira (or any other big bat) an acquisition the Sox need to make? Teixeira has certainly been a more consistently successful hitter than Lowell, with an OPS+ that hasn't fallen below 126 since his first year. He's also much more of a power hitter, fitting Ortiz's desire for protective, Manny-style bat, while Lowell's isolated power numbers, even with all of those doubles, have never returned to their Marlins-era peak. But Teixeira isn't Manny: as an example, until this year, Teixeira never had really stellar plate discipline, and his K/BB ratio only climbed after coming to the Angels. Bringing him to Boston, particularly at the expense of another player, seems like Theo's attempt to replace Pedro with the gaggle of cheaper, less effective pitchers that plagued Boston in 2005. Besides, a order heart of Youkilis, Ortiz, Drew, Bay, and Lowell (although not necessarily in that order) sounds pretty deadly already...