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David Ortiz, Nelson Figueroa and a salary cap

There's no doubt that Red Sox Nation is, at least, just as crazy as New York when it comes to baseball. Probably crazier. That's manifesting itself now in the travails of David Ortiz.

There's no disputing that, in the tiny sample size of the season's first two games, Ortiz has looked terrible. He's 0-for-7 with a walk, and the only balls he has hit remotely hard are a couple of grounders into rightfield - directly at the perfectly positioned Robinson Cano. He added another one of those tonight, in the first inning - stranding teammates on first and third.

Ortiz, you might remember, was absolutely brutal to start the 2009 season, and people clearly are having flashbacks about that. I'd have to think the Red Sox themselves are, too.

Big Papi is not taking this development quietly. He spoke out angrily against the scrutiny late last night, and then a little more calmly today.

The lefty-hitting Ortiz is starting at DH and hitting fifth tonight against the Yankees and left-hander Andy Pettitte. Partly because Ortiz has some decent numbers against Pettitte. But also, Boston manager Terry Francona conceded, because he was aware of the message he'd be sending if he benched Ortiz for the righty-hitting Mike Lowell in Game 3.

Tyler Kepner has a good write-up of Francona's thoughts here.

I don't want to project, two games into the season. But it's very clear that the Red Sox are not going to protect Ortiz for too long. If he's dreadful again, the club will at best put him on the disabled list with a phantom injury, and at worst release him. There's too much at stake to fiddle around with sentimentality.

--By now, you know that the Phillies have claimed Nelson Figueroa off waivers, and don't we all know that Figueroa will go onto pitch well for the Phils? This again magnifies the Mets' preference of "scouting" over "stats," to speak in such crude, black-and-white terms. Most of the stats crowd would likely prefer Figueroa to the erratic Fernando Nieve, who also is out of options. The Mets went the other way. We'll monitor both.

--Infrequent commenter Waverunner alerted us to this column by the legendary Frank Deford, advocating a salary cap in baseball. With all due respect to Mr. Deford, I don't see the point of debating something that will never happen.

The better solution, to me - and stop me if you've heard this before - is to add another playoff team from each league. Because while the Yankees still have a postseason advantage because of their immense, intelligently invested payroll, it's far from enough to ensure that they can win three playoff series.



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