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What's Wrong With Papi?

I want to take a closer look at the second item in the ALCS notebook in today's paper, in which Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz claims the Los Angels Angels pitched around him in the ALDS, accounting for his lack of production in the series. "You saw the series," Ortiz said. "I take my walks, man."

Well, that's not exactly true. Ortiz walked three times in the four-game series -- all of them coming in successive plate appearances in the 12-inning loss in Game 3. In the other three games: zero walks. A scout who worked the series for another team told me Ortiz got some hitable pitches, but simply missed them.

Ortiz also seemed to pin some blame on the fact the hitters ahead of him in the Red Sox's lineup, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, did not get on base enough against the Angels, which allowed them to pitch around him. "At some point, you're going to have Ellsbury and Pedroia getting hot," he said. "What are they going to do then? Walk me, too?"

But that, too, is not exactly correct. Although Pedroia reached base only three times in the series, Ellsbury did so eight times (with a .400 OBP).

Is Ortiz still bothered by the torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, which kept him out of the lineup for much of the summer? Stands to reason, although Ortiz yesterday denied the wrist was a problem.

In any case, the middle of the Red Sox's order is not what it was a year ago, when Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were simply the most dangerous 3-4 hitters in the game. I expect the Rays will go right at Ortiz until he proves there is reason to pitch around him.

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 10, 2008; 9:41 AM ET
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Thanks Dave, good analysis. The other important middle of the order hitter that can swing his respective series is Ryan Howard.

Last night in Game 1 it was painful to watch slider after slider on the outer half and Howard absolutely refuses to make an adjustment and continues to roll over on the ball and pull ground balls weakly to the right side.

Until he steps into those pitches and drives them down the wide open left field line, the former MVP's bat will be rendered moot, and over the course of a seven game series that could really come back to haunt the Phils.

Posted by: Ryan | October 10, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

David Ortiz's regular season stats after the Manny trade:

.262 / .381 / .519, 9 HR, 42 RBI. He also was 1 for 1 in stolen bases. That is not his 1.000+ OPS of years past, but slightly better than his numbers with Manny. It's the wrist and not Manny's absence.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 10, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

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