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Big (Papi) Concerns: Is The Importance Of David Ortiz The DH Dwindling?

David Ortiz is set to begin his ninth season as a member of the Boston Red Sox. He'll do so as the one of the highest paid designated hitters in the league. But while Ortiz, whose $12.5 million option for 2011 was picked up by Boston shortly after the end of last season, is earning a lot of green, he's starting to become an anomaly -- the DH that does, well, just H. 

Rob Bradford of WEEI points out that, while Victor Martinez, Milton Bradley, Travis Hafner, Jorge Posada, Michael Young and Adam Dunn are due to make (nearly) as much or more than Big Papi in 2011, each also does more. Mostly, they play a position in the field. 

Not likely to boast much -- if any -- as the season wears on is Ortiz' old pal, Manny Ramirez, who just signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay-St. Pete-Fort Myers Rays brought to you by Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice (lots of pulp and extra calcium, please) for $2 million -- a far cry from the $25 million he earned as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox last year. 

The DH itself isn't becoming de-valued, but the importance of a DH who can also play the field is quickly growing -- especially for teams that are crunched financially but still want to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and those oh-so-cute West Coast teams and their silly facial hair (Yeah, I know the Giants aren't in the AL. Just couldn't pass that up). 

As Ortiz approaches free agency, Bradford points out that he should be wary of his own value on the open market, not necessarily because his batting numbers have declined, but because his defensive numbers were never there to begin with.