Let me first say that I am glad I am not Terry Francona or Theo Epstein. Telling David Ortiz he's batting 7th in the lineup, or worse, riding the pine, won't be easy; especially after all he's done during his time with the Sox. That said, loyalty for the sake loyalty is insanity and the Sox have to do something with their DH spot.
I'm not certain Ortiz is finished, but there's very little to suggest that he's going to figure it out anytime soon. He has 1 home run, and it was a grooved fastball over the plate, 18 RBI, his OBP is .301 and his slugging is an anemic .299.
The Ortiz who would turn on inside fastballs or feast on the low and inside pitch is long gone, he probably couldn't catch up to Josh Beckett's change up right now, which clocks in around 88 mph. It's sad to say in Ortiz's case but I subscribe to the "what have you done for me lately" doctrine, and lately David Ortiz hasn't done anything.
Yesterday the Sox batted Pedroia, Youk, Bay and Lowell 2-5 in the lineup and they went a collective 11-20 at the dish with 11 runs scored and 5 RBI. That is what the Sox need out of the heart of their order, not every game because that's unrealistic, but the threat has to be there.
I understand the argument that Francona wants his line up to have balance between left and right handed hitters to make other managers use their bullpens differently. However, at some point you are sacrificing the first 6 innings of a game and possibly losing ball games because Ortiz is as close to an automatic out as it gets.
As far as a deal down the line to get another bat goes we'll have to see. For everyone clamoring for Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers I'd point out two truths; the Tigers are in first place and Theo has always been hesitant to deal his young pitchers (certainly he'll have to give 1 or 2 of them up at the very least).
The other side of the coin is the rumored Nick Johnson deal. He's off to a great start in Washington batting .338 with an OBP of .471 in 158 at bats this season, but one wonders if he can keep it up. Johnson can DH or play first and if he can bat .280 with a .380 OBP out of the 7 or 8 hole that is a significant upgrade from Ortiz right now.
Another option is to put Lowell at DH, move Youk back to third and let Bailey play every day at first base. I'm not sold on that as the answer but I'd be interested to give it a test run.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if Ortiz goes on the 60 day DL or something similar here with a "knee injury" that has been nagging at him all year. Whatever the Sox want to come up with, Ortiz can't be batting third in his current state.
The perfect ending here is Ortiz gets his stride back and rebounds for a strong second half defying his critics, sadly that looks like it's not going to happen.
Lastly I'll say that there is a reason Epstein let Pedro Martinez walk away when he wanted a 4th year on his contract; players don't get better when they get older. To watch Pedro pitch mediocre in Boston as opposed to New York following the 2004 season would have been tough for Sox fans. As tough as it is on the fans, I can't begin to imagine how David Ortiz feels. If I had to guess, he feels like he's going to the plate with an oak tree and not his usual baseball bat.