David Ortiz has been as graceful as a bull in a china shop upon entering free agency this offseason. Seriously, it would be tougher to put yourself in a worse position. Ortiz and his agent, Fern Cuza, can't be too pleased at where they are.
In the span of about two months, Ortiz has trashed the Boston Red Sox and actually said he might like playing for the New York Yankees, only to have that dream die and return his sights to his favorite team in the world, the Red Sox.
Pay attention boys and girls, because Big Papi offers a good example of how to screw this up.
Let's take a trip back in time (a drug free one, of course). Ortiz and his teammates obviously screwed up big this September, blowing a nine-game lead in the AL Wild Card race to the division rival Tampa Bay Rays. In 26 games in September, Ortiz collected 27 hits and had a .287 batting average, which isn't bad in itself, but only hit one home run and drove in eight runs. That's a pace of about six home runs and 48 runs batted in a season.
Sure, Ortiz wasn't necessarily the reason the Red Sox melted down in the last month of the regular season, but he didn't exactly rip it up, either. To add to it all, Ortiz was making comments down the stretch about how Alfredo Aceves should be starting that were indirectly targeted at manager Terry Francona (who Ortiz and the other Red Sox goons screwed out of a job).
And then, Ortiz entered the uncertainty of the open market after the Red Sox didn't come to terms with him on a new deal in their exclusive window of negotiation. This is the point where it all started to go downhill for Ortiz.
The first big mistake that Big Papi made this offseason occurred when he spoke about his future with the Red Sox, basically throwing the club under the bus after it had already been kicked where it hurts repeatedly.
"There's too much drama, man," Ortiz said in the interview. "There's too much drama. I have been thinking about a lot of things. I don't know if I want to be part of this drama for next year." (via WEEI)
That hurt, plain and simple. Ortiz was one of the main reasons this team has been successful in the past decade and he ascended to legendary status with the team. People will remember him for what he did in Boston. But none of that mattered to him, as he instead chose to complain about things when they went south.
Those comments weren't the worst thing in the world, even if they did sting. Ortiz didn't stop there, though, as he did the one thing that could turn an entire fan base against any Red Sox player: talk about playing for the Yankees.
"That's something I gotta think about," Ortiz told ESPN [when asked about the potential of joining the Yankees]. "[The Yankees are] a good situation to be involved in. Who doesn't want to be involved in a great situation where everything goes the right way? ... They lost just like we did, they just went to the first round of the playoffs. I ain't heard nobody coming out killing everybody just because they lost."
If I were the agent of Ortiz, I would have been banging me head at that comment. By making those two statement, Ortiz put his commitment to the Red Sox into question while at the same time virtually telling the Yankees, a team many thought was interested in him at the time, that he didn't know if he wanted to come back to Boston. As a negotiating ploy, that wasn't very smart.
Ortiz hit a snag when Brian Cashman, the GM of the Yankees, came out and said that the Bronx Bombers likely wouldn't pursue Big Papi, striking out a major suitor. Let's face it, we all know that Ortiz can't play for a National League team. He probably couldn't find his glove in his house if he was asked to right now. He's a designated hitter, and that means he'll be stuck with American League teams. He's also a big bucks talent, one that small market teams likely can't afford.
Thus, when Ortiz went out of his way to but a damper on his time with the Red Sox just to say he'd be interested in playing for their top rival, only to have that rival deny any interest, it just wasn't smart thinking.
Of course, with the Yankees out of the running (or at least, so we think), Ortiz did some back tracking.
"I would never try to do anything to hurt the organization. This organization, I hope I don't have to go anywhere else. Playing for the Red Sox you have to be proud of it and I'm proud to play for the Red Sox. My agent was there and he let them know how I feel. We'll see," Ortiz is quoted as saying. "If the Red Sox sign me right now they won't regret (it)," Ortiz added. "I've got so many ways to keep doing what I've been doing around here. I bring so much to this organization, I bring so much to the table here because I care so much about this organization."
Interesting switch, David. Now you don't want to leave the Red Sox? Coincidence? Not at all. Ortiz knows that the Red Sox are one of the few teams left that can afford his services, so he wanted to make amends. But people don't forget, at least I won't. And it's likely that Ortiz's little media stunt here has cost him some money.
If you were the Red Sox, and you saw that the team with the most amount of money to spend was out of the running on Ortiz, why would you go out of your way to overpay for a washed up slugger who isn't guaranteed to perform? It's not like Ortiz is going to go running to the Royals if your offer is too low, because in all reality, it will likely be a better offer than theirs anyways.
Any way you look at it, Ortiz could have handled his free agency much better. With the way things have played out, he has likely cost himself some money handling things the way he has. The final message is that, if you're a younger player, don't do what Papi did when you reach the open market. It's just bad for business.