Today I’d like to talk about the Red Sox captain, Jason Varitek. Few people have even embodied a baseball player like Varitek has. If you were picturing a catcher, chances are the person you have in your mind is Varitek. He just looks like a catcher. He calls a perfect game. He defends his plate. He leads the team. He’s a catcher. It’s that simple. He’s probably the best catcher the Red Sox have ever had. He may not make the Hall of Fame like Carlton Fisk, but he Red Sox career has been more productive.
There has been some discussion lately about just how important Varitek’s intangibles are. Is “calling a good game” more important than getting a big hit? I have no earthly idea. I have a tendency to believe the pitchers on the team. They all say that Varitek makes them better pitchers. Of course, not many pitchers say their catcher is a moron and they wish they had someone else (unless that catcher is Jorge Posada, I suppose). So, the pitchers could be blowing more smoke than throwing it. Other than, I think, Curt Schilling. Schilling was well known for being a student of the game. He kept notebooks on every hitter he’s ever faced, so he could plan the proper plan of attack. When the Red Sox acquired a former teammate of his, however, the teammate was amazed to see Schilling in the locker room before a start without the notebook. Curt had decided that Varitek could handle it. That speaks volumes, to me, about the trust level Varitek had, and the confidence that the pitchers have in him. But, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I didn’t answer the question. Was it more important that Varitek have that trust, or get a big hit? Apparently to Josh Beckett is was. He wanted Varitek behind the plate even with a better hitting option available. I’m sure it’s probably a 50-50 type thing. If Victor Martinez, for instance, is behind the plate the Sox might score more runs. But, in theory, if Tek is behind the plate the Sox will give up more runs. I guess I’d rather have the pitcher at his best. After all, V-Mart sometimes went 0-3 in a game.
As the Sox look to the future, it’s looking more and more like it will be one without Jason Varitek in it. That’s really too bad. He really was the perfect catcher.
V is for Varitek, Jason