Wednesday, October 22, 2008
THE VARITEK QUESTION
Jason Varitek is a free agent. We all know this. Jason Varitek is a great game caller and a lousy hitter. The second part of that statement is a difficult pill to swallow for Varitek lovers.
There's no other word to describe Varitek at the plate besides "lousy."
Varitek hit .220 this year. To put that in perspective, the following pitchers (35+ ABs) had higher averages:
Varitek hit .191 after May. For the season he hit .214 with runners on, and .175 with runners in scoring position. In "close and late" situations, he was a .156 hitter. He hit .112 in the postseason, and slugged .206 with a .189 OBP. In the LCS, he struck out 8 times in 20 ABs.
And it doesn't get much better for catchers when they turn 37, as Varitek does in April.
But here's the worst part: There's no free agent catcher out there that's significantly better than him. In order to trade for a good hitting catcher, the Sox would need to give up too much in terms of young pitching.
One possible solution is Dusty Brown. He's 26, was drafted by the Sox in 2000, and he hit .290 with 12 homers in 297 ABs in AAA Pawtucket. He had a .377 OBP to go with that. At the very least, it'd be nice to see him given some Major League playing time. He'll never be a top of the line, perennial All-Star catcher, but he has potential to NOT be a black hole in the Sox lineup.
Varitek's agent, by the way, is Scott Boras. Tek might decide to give the Sox a break and accept a short deal for a modest amount of money. But then again, why hire Scott Boras if you want to give teams any kind of financial break?
Dusty Brown is currently playing for Azucareres del Este in the Dominican Winter League. I'm going to keep an eye on how he's doing down there. Because if Boras and Varitek want an overpriced deal, Brown might be the Sox' best option.
AP Photo/Charles Krupa