Monday, February 2, 2009

Sox get their C

I have no idea what it means to call a good game. I have no idea how important it is for a pitcher to feel comfortable with a catcher. I have no idea if Spring Training is long enough to become comfortable with a new catcher. All I know is that I’m glad the Sox finally were able to sign Jason Varitek.

There may not be any actual statistical evidence that proves Jason Varitek makes a pitching staff better. It’s hard to say if another catcher gets different results without actually trying it. Does it really matter who Josh Beckett throws to? I understand that when you hear pitchers praise Varitek, some of that is “love the one you’re with.” (Heck, when he was with the Yankees, Roger Clemens actually said Posada was the best catcher he’d ever thrown to) But, I like having Tek behind the plate more than Josh Bard. I like having Tek better than trading away Buchholz for some unproven youngster. I like having another year or two to look for a catcher of the future without feeling like someone is needed right away. It’s a nice stopgap. And, who knows? Maybe his struggles last year really were because of injuries or personal matters. Maybe he’s can be an adequate offense catcher. It’s not like he’s really expensive.

I guess that’s my main issue during the back and forth. People keep comparing Varitek to the wrong players. I don’t care what Brad Ausmus or Gregg Zaun signed for. They didn’t sign with the Red Sox. Who did sign with the Sox? Brad Penny did. John Smoltz did. Rocco Baldelli did. At this point, the Sox hope to get something out of Penny, although he may be a waste of money. They hope to get something out of John Smoltz, although his arm could fall off instead. They hope Rocco can fill his role as a fifth outfielder. So the question that needs to be asked is if Tek’s $5 million is riskier than Smoltz’s $5 million? After all, the Sox have shown they’re willing to throw money around to try things out. They have a stack of money they saved when Schilling agreed that he can’t pitch, and when they shipped off Manny for some reason. So, what were they planning on doing with that money? They didn’t spend it on Mrs. Teixeira. Might as well pick up a veteran catcher that your pitching staff is already comfortable with. At least you’re sure of what you’re getting. I can’t say the same for the rest of the things the Sox have thrown their money at this year. Plus, the total value of Varitek’s contract is less than the Sox will be paying Lugo this year. Heck, it’s less than the Sox paid Renteria to play for the Braves. Signing Tek looks like the smartest move Theo’s made in a while.

The roster looks full. The team is ready to go to Florida and work at getting back to the top.

And now they have their captain to steer them.

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