I Never Wanted to Be a Catcher. I Wanted to Be a … a … a Lumberjack!

Sometime today we'll probably find out whether Jason Varitek is returning as catcher for the Boston Red Sox. Frankly, it's difficult to care.

Varitek hasn't come out of this looking very good. He first said he was so ignorant of the process he didn't know declining arbitration would attach a draft pick to his cost. Then he apparently was so shrewd he knew going to arb would allow the Red Sox to cut him (forgetting apparently that the Sox have never gone to arbitration with anyone). Now he may just retire or sit out 2009 than take a $5 million offer that is probably about $4 million more than what he could command from anyone else in this market.

I almost hope he does it, just to force the Red Sox to try out a younger catcher or make a trade, even if it's an overpay, for someone else. But Tek does still have value, and his return would provide a smoother, less acrimonious transition. Something tells me he will ultimately swallow his obviously considerable pride and agree to whatever deal it is the Sox have out there for him. If he does, that will be good for him and good for the Red Sox.

But if he doesn't, I won't be shedding many tears.

35 comments… add one

  • I won’t be shedding tears either, but I might be in June when Josh Bard is still running out to the mound 50 times a game when Daisuke is pitching… or George Kottaras’s defensive woes prove to be as bad as some suspect…
    Bottom Line: That’s a very pessimistic view, but I sure hope the phone lines have remained open during all this crap, cause mid-season may to too late to fix this problem if it becomes one.

    bottomlinesox January 30, 2009, 10:53 am
  • That view is pessimistic to the point of unrealistic. Even granting the value Varitek brings in terms of game calling and preparation, if the Sox were to go into 2008 with a Bard/Kottaras platoon, they likely could not do any worse at the plate or behind it. I believe Bard also knows a thing or two about calling a game, and might even prepare a little bit. I’d also guess that professional pitchers who have more than a year of experience in the American League — which includes four of the Sox’ five starters and the vast majority of their bullpen — might have a few ideas themselves about how to prepare for upcoming starts and opponents.
    Varitek’s value at this point seems to be driven almost entirely by his intangibles and because they’re not tangible — i.e., there is no appreciable statistical difference when he is in the game as when he’s not — at some point we have to trust that somehow seven other baseball teams make it to the playoffs each year with a catcher who is not Jason Varitek. I support bringing him back at the terms offered because it would be a great farewell tour for a player who did a lot to bring us two World Championships many of us thought we’d never get to see, as well as a decent thing to do and a way to provide a clubhouse-soothing way to ease out of starting him against right-handed pitchers.
    But I’ve had just about enough of this drama about a player who is simply not that good any more at the tangible aspects of his job. Take the offer, Tek, or leave it. Let’s be done with this, one way or the other.

    Paul SF January 30, 2009, 11:56 am
  • Heyman says the Sox and Varitek have reached an agreement.
    I look forward to seeing that ridiculous “S” on his uniform next year. And here I thought no one could out-do his already ridiculous “C”.

    AndrewYF January 30, 2009, 2:19 pm
  • “S” for “Suck”?
    Link.

    Paul SF January 30, 2009, 2:25 pm
  • The Globe has it now, with terms:
    Varitek will earn $5 million in 2009, with the club holding a $5 million option for 2010. If the Red Sox do not pick up that option, Varitek has the choice of remaining with the club on a $3 million deal. In ’10, he can earn another $2 million in incentives based on playing time, beginning at 80 games started.
    Thus, the potential total value of the deal increases from $8 million-$10 million to $10 million-$12 million.

    I’m just glad that’s over.

    Paul SF January 30, 2009, 2:32 pm
  • at least there’s nowhere to go but up from last years performance. this would have been an even harder decision to make if tek had an above-career year last year. a 2 year deal wouldn’t have even been an option had that been the case. sure, the sox overpaid based on performance but at least they didn’t get posada-ed (unreal contract year followed by 4 really expensive years spent on the DL).
    for now, i’m gonna hope for the post-divorce rebound theory.

    sf rod January 30, 2009, 2:49 pm
  • “S” would be for “Supercatcher”. Not a joke, although it really sounds like one.

    AndrewYF January 30, 2009, 2:55 pm
  • at least there’s nowhere to go but up from last years performance
    That’s what I thought about CD interest rates when we decided not to turn ours over in January, and sure enough, they’ve dipped another 0.1%. There’s always room to get worse.

    Jackie (SF) January 30, 2009, 2:57 pm
  • Glad it’s finally over. Now we can sit and wait for Truck Day in peace!

    Atheose January 30, 2009, 3:23 pm
  • i’m gonna hope for the post-divorce rebound theory.
    Me, too, though I’m skeptical the divorce only distracted him from the left side of the plate.
    I do think he’ll rebound a little, just because mean regression happens, but I think 2010 will be ugly indeed if he’s not in a strict platoon.
    Getting Montero or Salty to platoon with Tek this year would actually make for a terrific combo. I’m still hoping…

    Paul SF January 30, 2009, 3:48 pm
  • I wish pulling the C from his chest was part of the deal.
    I’m sincerely tired of Varitek’s shit, yet I’m content with this because a young catcher wouldn’t have made an ideal starter for an experienced team. (Much as I’d love to have Teagarden behind the dish if he wouldn’t cost us two top prospects.) The Red Sox essentially made a non-move here because nothing else made long-term sense.
    And if they actually get two years out of Tek/Bard/Kotteras/Brown/Some guy off the street who looks like Scott Hatteberg, the holding pattern places them in a position to top bid on Joe Mauer. Not the worst situation to end up in if a younger option doesn’t emerge.

    Hit Dog January 30, 2009, 3:52 pm
  • Andrew: What the bleep is this “S” thing you’re talking about? (And I hate that stupid “C” thing, too.)
    Would the “S” mean, “Schmuck who rubs icy-hot on his teammates’ testicles”?

    I'mBillMcNeal January 30, 2009, 4:17 pm
  • There was a rumor that Boras and Varitek wanted the Sox to grant him the title of “Super Captain”, and the Sox agreed in order to jumpstart negotiations. I’m not sure if they agreed to that in the contract.

    AndrewYF January 31, 2009, 11:09 am
  • I predict that Varitek will not “rebound” from his divorce, statistically at least. He has been a bad catcher for a year and half at least. If there is an uptick from last year it will be due to a slight increase in BABIP more towards expected. But I doubt much will change, his K-rate has been on an upward path for a few years, and he’s older a year, such is life.
    Varitek is a dead spot in the lineup, and his arm sucks. But part of me, the non-cutthroat win-at-all-costs part (it’s a pretty big part), is appreciative that Tek may end up retiring a Sox, and he deserves a fond (eventual) farewell, he’s been a key player in Boston and was the catcher on two championship teams. The sentimental value of that cannot be underestimated.

    SF January 31, 2009, 1:12 pm
  • It wasn’t a rumor, it was a (rather mediocre) joke that was missed. You didn’t really buy this did you?
    http://newengland.comcastsportsnet.com/wickedgoodsports/red-sox/sox-offer-varitek-a-promotion-to-super-captain/

    SF January 31, 2009, 1:20 pm
  • Hey, this was a team that lowered itself enough to put a giant “C” on its captain’s uniform. Nothing silly they do would surprise me.

    AndrewYF January 31, 2009, 1:42 pm
  • that lowered itself
    Yeah, really, a “C” on a uniform. You are right, this is the low point for any franchise. The Sox’ world is really deteriorating.
    Seriously, this is what “lowered” the franchise for you? It wasn’t the decades of racism, or the time that they elevated a former trainer to GM?

    SF January 31, 2009, 2:09 pm
  • I guess I used the wrong word. I should have said “This was the team that was silly enough to…”.

    AndrewYF January 31, 2009, 2:46 pm
  • Well played, sirs. Well, played.
    (I bought it too.)
    I will say: Why? Now, they’re paying at least $8 million for that sentimental goodbye. That, by itself is not horrible. But the manager has to be willing to sit him. If he doesn’t it hurts doubly. Is Francona ready to sit him if he’s hitting .213 in May? Is Varitek ready to accept it if or when he does?

    Rob January 31, 2009, 3:15 pm
  • Except…are they going to play Josh Bard above Varitek? Alot?

    walein January 31, 2009, 3:39 pm
  • The Sox still need Varitek. I believe that if there had been a better market out there the Sox would have still had to sign Varitek back from at least 18-22 million for a two year deal.
    The gamble worked for the Theo because the market didn’t continue in the vein that Boras and Varitek thought it would.

    walein January 31, 2009, 3:41 pm
  • Is Francona ready to sit him if he’s hitting .213 in May?
    He was certainly ready to sit him in key spots down the stretch, pinch-hitting for him in September and October, even though Varitek was unhappy enough with the decision to take his displeasure public.
    Francona has a rep for favoring struggling vets in front of of better youngsters. Except it’s entirely unfounded.
    He sat Coco Crisp for Jacoby Ellsbury in late 2007. He installed Jonathan Papelbon as closer over Keith Foulke in 2006. He refused to sit a struggling Dustin Pedroia for a hot Alex Cora in early 2007.
    If Theo and Tito sit down and decide that Varitek’s suckage against right-handed pitchers requires something resembling a strict platoon in which a younger catcher would get the majority of at bats, I don’t know why Tito wouldn’t adhere to that. Last I checked, he was pretty interested in winning, too.

    Paul SF January 31, 2009, 3:48 pm
  • Also there’s a bit of a leap between the silly “C”on the uniform, which at least has precedence in other sports, and the “Supercaptain” joke, which is just ridiculous, and not even that funny. I don’t think anyone really took that seriously, except those willing (hoping?) to think the worst about the Red Sox.

    Paul SF January 31, 2009, 3:52 pm
  • Who are the Sox’s other catching options right now?

    walein January 31, 2009, 3:55 pm
  • Regarding the “C” on the uniform… Yeah, no other MLB team has have never done anything even remotely as silly as that. For example, no one ever installed a graveyard-like shrine to its “legends” and “heros.” Because other teams owners, like the Steinbrenners, are so classy.

    Hudson January 31, 2009, 5:06 pm
  • Uh huh…because the Red Sox don’t have a statue of Ted Williams putting a hat on a child outside of Fenway Park? What a dumb comparison.
    Try again.

    AndrewYF February 1, 2009, 4:03 am
  • Well, that was silly comment by me. That statue is for the Jimmy Fund.
    In any case, the Red Sox are capable of doing very silly things. Given, them, Boras, and Varitek, the “Supercaptain” idea was eminently believable. But I’m glad to see it was a joke. I don’t need any more reason to make fun of the Sox.

    AndrewYF February 1, 2009, 4:10 am
  • In any case, the Red Sox are capable of doing very silly things
    And this makes them different from every other team in professional sports how?
    As for the “believability” factor, it was only as believable as someone’s filter is predisposed to expect the worst or silliest from a team. I mean, really.

    SF February 1, 2009, 6:59 am
  • If Theo and Tito sit down and decide that Varitek’s suckage against right-handed pitchers requires something resembling a strict platoon in which a younger catcher would get the majority of at bats, I don’t know why Tito wouldn’t adhere to that. Last I checked, he was pretty interested in winning, too.
    But who is that youngster? With Bard, they won’t be carrying one. So now the choice becomes a catcher with no bat or a bat with no catcher. And are they really going to pinch hit for Varitek to then install Bard in a close game? After all, if it’s not close why pinch hit?
    See, that’s what I don’t get. If they have to go out and get a young catcher any ways like Montero or Teagarden then what’s the point of keeping Varitek around? Under those circumstances, why not sign Varitek as an expensive first base/catching coach? Without a youngster, the Sox seem to have little choice but to play Varitek. With a youngster, the Sox seem to have little need to play Varitek. Now, they really have “kicked the can” and for another two years.

    Rob February 1, 2009, 8:38 am
  • Lesson, folks: don’t post at 4 in the morning after a night of drinking.

    AndrewYF February 1, 2009, 10:14 am
  • The Sox haven’t “kicked the can”. They judged $5M this year to be more valuable than a player they might have to acquire, pay, and give away youth for. Next year’s money for Tek is irrelevant, to an extent. If he’s so bad that the Sox can’t fathom him in their lineup they will deal with it, they have options, it’s their money and they have shown total willingness to eat bad money if they have to. On the other hand, If he’s good he’ll earn his option and the Sox will gladly pay I am guessing. If he’s not that good he’ll either exercise his own option to lock in a payday (and maybe get released if he’s been that bad) or opt out for free agency like every Boras client has. This is a one year deal with next year’s portion really not a factor in the Sox’ long-term catching situation.

    SF February 1, 2009, 12:43 pm
  • Silly, truely, is erecting outside the stadium a statue of a former announcer who, often while intoxicated, called the team’s games for 16 seasons. And silly is, even 10 years after that person dies, to have random celebrities stop by the announcers’ booth to lead the crown in “Take Me out to the Ball Game”
    during the seventh inning stretch.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Harry_Caray_Monument2.jpg
    The “C,” I’m not a fan, but the dude was a big part of two championships. It’s a far cry from hero-worshipping an obnoxious drunk who witnessed one division title and made himself bigger than the game.

    I'mBillMcNeal February 1, 2009, 9:23 pm
  • You’re forgiven, Andrew.
    I certainly appreciate your respect for the Jimmy Fund.
    However, do feel free to make a $50 donation to guarantee forgiveness. :)

    I'mBillMcNeal February 1, 2009, 9:25 pm
  • “Who are the Sox’s other catching options right now?”
    the big part of the question is the “right now” part. every part of me believes tek and bard are stopgaps to a late july acquisition of mauer. the twins have been itching to get young catcher wilson ramos (#3 prospect in their organization) to the bigs. besides the fact that they would love a chance at dumping the $12.5 final year of his contract.
    *holding breath*

    sf rod February 2, 2009, 6:12 am
  • But who is that youngster?
    I didn’t say “youngster,” I said “younger catcher,” and Bard is a younger catcher, while Kottaras is a youngster. Either of them will hit better than Varitek against righties, and thus improve the Sox’ production at catcher.

    Paul SF February 2, 2009, 9:06 am

Leave a Comment