Thursday, December 2, 2010

Red Sox Signing of Varitek Too Focused on the Past

According to WEEI Sportsradio Network, Jason Varitek has agreed with the Red Sox on a new one year, $2 million deal with $300,000 in incentives.  Varitek is currently 38 and will turn 39 very early next season.  He only played in 39 games last season because of a broken foot, hitting .232 with seven homers in 123 plate appearances.

This seems like a move based more on the past than the future.  Yes, Varitek has great intangibles and knows a ridiculous amount about the Red Sox pitching staff, but he is old, injuries are probable and his offensive production is questionable at best.  It also leaves Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who both have lots of question marks) as the only two catchers on the Red Sox roster.  I'm assuming this means that the Sox organization believes that Saltalamacchia can start, because Varitek sure as hell can't.  The last time he played over 100 games, in 2009, he barely hit over .200.  Bill James, the baseball writer and statistician, projects that Varitek will only hit .228 this season with 9 homers.  That's if Varitek can stay healthy enough to play in the 72 games that James predicts he will play in.  The projected average also seems a bit high, as Varitek will wear down as the season progresses, even as a backup.

You can't deny that Varitek has great intangibles.  He is a great clubhouse presence, knows the pitching staff well and can help teach Saltalamacchia, and is the Red Sox captain.  $2 million really isn't a lot to spend, so the Sox could be saving money with the signing.  However, there comes a point in time when teams need to let beloved players go.  Varitek has been a great player for the Red Sox, but it doesn't seem smart for the Red Sox to have resigned him.  There were other better options, such as Miguel Olivo, on the free agent market. 


  1. I agreed but like you said he has great knowledge and is a good leader. This should be his last season then they should offer him a coaching position somewhere in the club!!!

  2. It would have been bad for the Sox not to sign him. Like the Yankees with the Jeter situation, the Sox can't afford to not sign their captain if he wants to play. It looks bad to not support the player you named the leader of your organization's players. $2 million in the MLB today is nothing, so I don't think the Sox are too worried about wasting the money and when it comes down to it, a back-up catcher is a back-up catcher. No one is looking for him to start

  3. Yes, no one is looking for him to start. And yes, $2 million isn't anything by today's standards. There are obviously some pros to signing tek, but there are also a lot of cons. His offense has gotten worse and worse over the last couple of years. His defense has also gotten worse. Last year he only threw out roughly 21% of base runners. In 2009, his last full season, he only threw out 13%