David Ortiz and Babe Ruth
One born out of time, Dept.


Q.  Who were the two very best players ever to be traded as minor leaguers?

A.  One of them was David Ortiz, traded of course by the Chuck Armstrong administration.  See the note after the signoff.


Q.  How old is Ortiz?

A.  He was 37 last year.  Have you seen his slash lines at ages 36 and 37?  He's still every blinkin' inch a (left hand) Manny Ramirez.  He keeps his weight down, he's got a chance to be Raul Ibanez...

This could be relevant to our peanut-crackin' bleacher-bum chatter about Carlos Beltran, or might not be.  I remember three or four years ago, the Red Sox gave Ortiz a 2-year deal at $13M per, and THE very best sabermetric blog ripping them a new one over it.

That's not to say the 2010-11 deal might not have tanked, of course.  But need we be as glib as we are about refusing contracts to aging superstars?

In chess terms, you ask the question "if you had this position every game, would you play the same move every time?"  If you would refuse all contracts to old players, you'd have refused Ortiz' last contract.  You'd have refused his last two contracts.


To put it another way:  you want to be very aware of what WAR/$ says, but you also want to allow for human intuition.  Which told the Red Sox that David Ortiz was a player they needed, at his ages 34-37.  They were entitled to make that call, contrary to WAR/$ analysis.


Q.  And I'm fine with that.

A.  And you're fine with not being in the Red Sox victory parades, too.  

Literally speaking, we mean.  We don't mean it snidely.  We mean it as a statement of the crux of the matter.  If you are fine with passing on EVERY David Ortiz opportunity, you are probably also fine with not winning the World Series.  Dr. D isn't.

(Thirteen, we're guessing, will speak up for those in one category but not the other.  ;- )  Such species exist.  But we SSI fans are laser-focused on CHAMPIONSHIPS, in a way not fashionable in mainstream sabermetrics.  Mainstream sabermetrics seeks to "contend every year, on a modest payroll, and let the dice roll in the playoffs" - ironically the attitude that Pat Gillick takes, and that got mis-translated while he was here in Seattle.)  


Q.  Is Dr. D leaning for, or against, the idea of Carlos Beltran?

A.  Leaning against.

He fancies the idea of Kendrys Morales, short-term, doing a Beltran impression -- especially if that makes possible a Ryan Braun or Cliff Lee scenario.  SSI would rather go bigger than Carlos Beltran.  So would Jack Zduriencik, we're sure.


Q.  What's with the title of the article?

A.  A fascinating response here recently by Bill James ... if Babe Ruth had been born when David Ortiz was, do you think he'd have adapted his personality to the times?  I do.

James sez:

Hey Bill, did you ever think of David Ortiz as the new Babe Ruth? By that I mean if Ruth had been born in 1975 rather than 1895, he'd have not just Ortiz' statistics but his demeanor, his build, his stature on the team... Once that idea came into my mind, I can't look at David Ortiz and not see Babe Ruth. Do you think that's a fair comparison?
Asked by: TJNawrocki
Answered: 10/17/2013
Honestly, I do the exact same thing.   I think of Ortiz as a modern Babe Ruth literally every day; I'm kind of shocked that you asked.   It started for me one time about 2006 when David stopped in our office. . .which players do not do very often. . .and was wearing a leather hat.   I don't know the name of the hat style, but it was very much like a hat that I have seen pictures of Ruth wearing, out of uniform.   I thought then that this man has a lot of Babe Ruth in him, and. . .as you point out. . .once you start thinking that way, it fits like a glove, so things happen constantly to re-inforce that way of thinking about him. 


Dr D


Bill, would you say David Ortiz is the greatest player ever to be traded while in the minors? His only competition I can think of would be Clemente.
Asked by: manhattanhi
Answered: 11/13/2013
Jeff Bagwell.   
I think Clemente was actually a Rule 5 pick, wasn't he?   I think there have been a surprising number of pretty good stars who were lost in the Rule 5 draft.   David was traded from Seattle to Minnesota as a minor leaguer, and was (of course) released by Minnesota.   I think he may be the best player ever who was given up on by two teams.   
In the 1900-1905 era, both Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson were released by minor league teams.   About 1907 or 1908, Tris Speaker went to spring training with the New York Giants and was cut.   I think. . .not sure I remember the details. ..but I think Pete Alexander also was released or traded while he was in the low minors, after he suffered a serious injury.
Those events, however, all occurred before the formation/organization of the modern farm systems; these players were cut by minor league operators who, to put it nicely, didn't know their *** from a hole in the ground.    I'm not sure there is anyone else of the stature of Bagwell or Ortiz who was actually traded while in the minor leagues.   Probably is, but I can't come up with the name. 




blissedj's picture

At least I think I do. It's hard to remember back to 1991 and 1979. Rooting for my baseball team to be the smartest with their money has been fairly boring to follow on television and in the standings. We aren't very good at it, if that's even what we've been trying.
I do enjoy watching our football team aspire to beat the snot out of their opponent. Destroy them physically with hard hitting offense and defense. Intimidate them into submission. I get a feeling that if it was allowed the Seahawks would spend another 50 or 100M, so they could further humiliate and dominate their competition.
Pretty much any money spent to improve the hitting this offseason will be cheered by me. A Morales / Beltran offseason would be one of our finest in years. We don't have to spend like the Dodgers (although that looks like fun), but give us something here M's. We've waited patiently for many years. Choo would be nice. If we can't get anybody else to take our money I'll settle for Cruz. Don't wanna root for PED guys but I'd probably enjoy watching Cruz hitting 5th for us a little more than Almonte.
Really keeping my fingers crossed we pump the offense up by spending money instead of prospects. Especially our SP's. We can't afford to part with any of them, even Erasmo. He'll be needed when somebody flops or gets injured.
And don't come home from your shopping trip without a solid RP or two. Otherwise I'll send you back to the store.
Sorry for veering off a bit there, but you mentioned championship and I got all excited for a minute. At least the Hawks are trying to get us one!
Cliff Lee is a minors trade that turned out to be a pretty good player. John Smoltz.Fred McGriff. Ryne Sandberg juuuuuuust missed by 6 PA. Wil Myers is off to a pretty darn good start, love his swing.


He and Man-Ram are definitely two of the greatest performance-enhancing users to ever suit up. Not a coincidence they played on the same team. Curious to see if the popularity of Ortiz overcomes the Hall's PED stigma, if he can avoid getting popped again before the end of his career.


a sentiment I share, the love of championship caliber baseball. A team doesn't have to win it every year, and it may even go through a tough spell of seasons now and then. But by and large a team that seeks the loyalty and attendance of fans DOES owe them something much more than a pleasant environment at a comfortable, modern stadium. It owes them dedications to the pursuit of championships, and it owes them the competence to put themselves in a position to actually achieve them. Otherwise they are undeserving of the fans they seek, and they are asking more of the their fans than they are of themselves.


The sportswriters, am sorry to say, are not known for their sense of consistency, much less fairness...
The HOF elections are one of the clearest prisms through which to perceive the bias...


Roid-Warrior Ortiz and Gar have basically the same amount of PAs now (8674 for Edger, 8249 for Ortiz) and it breaks down like:
Gar: .312/.418/.515/.933, 514 doubles, 309 HRs, 1283 BB / 1202 K, 147 OPS+
Ortiz: .287/.381/.549/.930, 520 doubles, 431 HRs, 1087 BB / 1487 K, 139 OPS+
Gar played TWICE as many games in the field as Ortiz, so if Ortiz is a HOFer, then Gar should be too. I'm actually waiting for the HOF campaign for Ortiz to help pull Gar in its wake.  Once ONE full-time DH gets in the other should come along reasonably. How do you argue FOR Ortiz but against Martinez?
And Ortiz should have the East Coast votes that Gar doesn't get, as well as some bling assistance.  Cheaters do prosper.  At least this one might do some extra good on his way into Cooperstown.


and the OPS+ tips you off as to the Fenway factor.
I bet that's exactly what happens.  Man, you been eating your Wheaties?  Or did you just recetnly type out your "The End" or something?

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