Posted on: May 19, 2011 1:53 pm
NEW YORK -- The question has come up half a dozen times, just in the last week.
"What are the Red Sox going to do about their catching?" one scout or another asks. "They've got to go find a catcher."
No matter how many times the Red Sox say that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is getting better, scouts watching the team all come back saying the same thing. They've got to get a catcher.
How about Pudge Rodriguez?
Rodriguez is a back-up now with the Nationals, who are using Wilson Ramos as their starter. Rodriguez is hitting just .238, heading into Thursday's afternoon game against the Mets, but he has 14 RBI in 63 at-bats.
And, unlike Saltalamacchia, he's still a plus defender.
"He can really block balls in the dirt, and he can really throw," Nats manager Jim Riggleman said, echoing what rival scouts have said. "He's really at the top of his game defensively.
"He's a No. 1 catcher, who is in a backup role here."
That may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but not much.
The Nationals have suggested to people that they're not anxious to trade Rodriguez yet, but it's hard to believe they wouldn't. The Red Sox keep suggesting that the Saltalamacchia-Jason Varitek combination will be fine, but it's hard to believe it will be.
He smiled Thursday morning when I asked him about Boston.
"That's a good park to hit in," he said. "I've always hit well there."
Nationals people rave about how willing Rodriguez has been to accept his role, and to work with Ramos. Rodriguez raved about Ramos, saying, "He's going to be great. He's a very, very good catcher, and a good hitter."
But even at 39, Rodriguez doesn't believe he's at the end of his own career.
"I've got plenty of years left," he said. "I feel great. I can probably play 2-3 more years, for sure. I still love what I do."
He's also moving closer to his goal of 3,000 hits. Rodriguez entered play Thursday with 2,832 hits.
Posted on: July 30, 2009 11:25 am
Edited on: July 30, 2009 11:27 am
As CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller reported last night , the Red Sox have been able to rekindle talks with the Padres on first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
The Sox have long coveted Gonzalez, so it's not surprising that they would talk about him, and it wouldn't be surprising if they acquired him.
Too bad he's not a catcher or a starting pitcher.
People familiar with the Red Sox say the team has increasing concerns about Jason Varitek's ability to stay healthy, and also about the depth of their starting rotation. Varitek, sources say, has already had more than one cortisone shot this season. Varitek is hitting just .207 in July, and after hitting 10 home runs in April and May, he has just three in 39 games since.
Rotation depth was supposed to be a Boston strength, but John Smoltz has a 7.04 ERA and just one win in his six starts, Brad Penny has been inconsistent, and Daisuke Matsuzaka has spent more time talking than pitching.
The Sox have talked to the Indians about Victor Martinez, who could fill in for Varitek behind the plate. They've also talked to the Blue Jays about Roy Halladay. who would give them an imposing front of the rotation, with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.
Posted on: January 30, 2009 2:12 pm
Jason Varitek will remain with the Red Sox, after all.
Varitek is closing in on a two-year deal, CBSSports.com has confirmed. The Red Sox had offered Varitek one guaranteed year and a mutual option last week, and had asked for an answer by today.
Posted on: December 8, 2008 12:11 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2008 5:22 pm
LAS VEGAS -- Baseball teams keep telling us the bad economy will hurt the free agent market.
Players and agents just gave a strong signal that they don't agree.
Of the 24 free agents offered salary arbitration, only two accepted. Those two -- middle relievers David Weathers and Darren Oliver -- were seen by many as no-brainers. But so were some of the free agents who rejected the chance at arbitration.
"I thought for sure (Ben) Sheets would accept," one executive said after getting the news late Sunday night.
Sheets' injury history has scared some teams off, and the thought was he would benefit by trying for a healthy 2009 and entering the market in what presumably would be a healthier economy. Many executives thought that Jason Varitek, who had a poor season in 2008, could do the same.
I know I thought there was a real chance that Sheets and/or Varitek would accept.
Sheets, Varitek and 20 others decided they'll do plenty good enough on the market -- this supposedly economy-affected market.
Posted on: October 20, 2008 4:30 am
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Don't cry for the Red Sox.
They're done for this year after the Game 7 loss to the Rays, but that doesn't mean they're done for good. They didn't become the first repeat champion in more than a decade, but that doesn't mean they'll never win again.
In fact, the Red Sox could return as soon as next year, with virtually the same cast. That's assuming they find a way to re-sign catcher Jason Varitek, which in this view, they should. Yes, it's true that Varitek has looked lost at the plate. But even in his disappointing postseason, it became obvious that the Red Sox still rely on him. They have no one ready to replace him, and the free-agent market for catchers is absolutely awful.
The Sox face few other big decisions. They will have to determine whether Mike Lowell will be fully healthy after hip surgery, but the other injuries that helped end their postseason run should heal over the winter.
Any hurt feelings should heal, too, if they haven't already. Even after losing a tough Game 7, most of the Red Sox players seemed to realize that there was no reason for regrets.
"We just kind of ran out of magic," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said.
"It didn't work out," said designated hitter David Ortiz. "What can you do?"
They ran out of magic this year. It didn't work out this year.
They'll be back, ready to battle the Rays in baseball's toughest division again next year.
Posted on: October 14, 2008 5:26 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2008 5:34 pm
BOSTON -- Interesting to see how Manny Ramirez reacted when people suggested that Boston's two ALCS comebacks (in 2004 and 2007) should give hope to the Dodgers, who are now down three games to one to the Phillies.
"That's in Boston," Ramirez told reporters at Dodger Stadium. "That was a great team."
Now the Sox down two games to one to the Rays, with the chance that they could fall behind 3-1 tonight.
Of course they could come back from that. But is this still a great team?
But Manny is gone, of course. Mike Lowell is missing due to injury, and the Red Sox said today that Lowell will have surgery on his hip next week. Josh Beckett seems to be hurting (although the Red Sox continue to deny it), and Ortiz may be hurting, too.
Are they great? Maybe we'll find out.
Drew has led off 59 times in his career, including 17 times for the Red Sox in 2007 and eight times this year.
"Last year we hit him leadoff to get him going," Francona said. "This year, it was more out of necessity."
The reason today, Francona said, is that Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine holds runners on so well that it's almost pointless to have a base-stealing threat in the leadoff spot. There were only four steals attempted while Sonnanstine was on the mound this year, and just one was successful.