On July 31st your Red Sox made a trade that helped mold the second half of the season by acquiring Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians. Since then, the few Jason Varitek apologists continued to point to “The Captain’s” great game-calling skills and defensive capalbilities as to why to keep him in the lineup. Well, roughly a month and a half later, I can’t help but wonder if those few select ‘Tek followers are still ready to die on that hill.
We’ve all seen the struggles of Red Sox catchers trying to throw out baserunners time and time again this season and no matter what the team philosophy is, it’s at least partly due to poor execution behind the plate. Yes, Martinez has thrown plenty of baseballs into centerfield, but for the reasoning of this blog, I’ll call it a push. As far as boxing pitches behind the dish, well, I don’t see much of a difference at all. This was highlighted Wednesday night, when Varitek let a Ramon Ramirez slider get past him, which allowed the inning to continue and the Angels to grab a 7-5 lead. Thankfully the Angels collapsed and that play didn’t cost the hometown team a win.
The final defensive point, calling a game, has always been overrated. I’ve seen Josh Beckett struggle with Varitek behind the plate enough to say that a catcher doesn’t make as much of a difference calling a game as many still or used to think. Would those same people that have constantly pointed to ‘Tek’s ability to call a game, point to Martinez catching two Cy Young winners, as well as Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester’s recent domination with the former Indian behind the plate? Calling a game – push.
Offensively, we’ve all seen the writing on the wall for a while now. Thanks to some early year power, Varitek was passable in the first half. However, in the second half he’s hitting .161 with one home run and 18 RBI. His OBP is a horrific .258, while his OPS is terribly low at .508. Point blank, Varitek isn’t in the same stratosphere. He’s never been the hitter that Martinez is and will never be the hitter that Martinez is.
So, for the final few loyal Varitek fans, it’s time to join the other side. Put the captain pom-pom’s down and cheer for the man who is going to make a tangible difference for this team in the playoffs. You can respect Varitek and love him for what he did for this team for so many years, but that’s not what October is about. Come playoff time you want to have the guy that is doing great things, not the guy who at one time did great things.
- Nick Cattles, Producer