Wednesday, October 22, 2008
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
The Sox hadn't lost a playoff series since 2005, and hadn't lost a Game 7 since that all too memorable 2003 ALCS in Yankee Stadium. What's worse, the team that ended the Sox season is full of upstarts, and supported by a small rabble of mohawk wearing, cowbell ringing, fair weather fans that make Pink Hats look like the 700 level of Veterans Stadium. A friend of mine going to school in Tampa paid $40 for Game 7 tickets. FORTY DOLLARS... FOR GAME SEVEN! I paid $60 for regular season bleacher tickets up here and bragged about getting a good deal.
It's hard losing that way, to that team, with those "fans." But at least it wasn't the Yankees, like it was in '03. And at least it wasn't the Mets, like it was in '86. And if the Rays are good enough for Jenn Sterger, then I guess they're not so bad.
But like 2003, and like 1986, there are other GREAT teams to watch in this town. The World Champion Celtics start their title defense in less than a week. The Bradyless Pats are still in it, and still very entertaining. The Bruins have done well against some tough opponents to start their season. The BC Eagles are ranked 23rd in the country and could go to the ACC title game.
I'll admit, October of 2008 isn't shaping up to be the same as October of 2007. On Halloween last year, the Red Sox were World Series Champions, the Patriots were 8-0, Boston College was ranked #2 in the country, and the Celtics were about to begin their most highly anticipated season in decades.
But look at what New York has. They've got the Giants, and that's it. The Yankees and Mets missed the playoffs, the Knicks suck, and the Jets are terminal losers.
Look at what Philadelphia has. The Phillies won the pennant, but the Eagles are stuck in a cycle of mediocrity. The 76ers were under .500, and the Flyers are a bunch of cheap shot pussies.
What city is doing much better than Boston? Los Angeles has the Dodgers, Lakers, and USC. They can throw in the Angels, as well. That's good, but not better than what we have.
Both Chicago baseball teams made the playoffs, and the Bears are in first. But the Bulls and Blackhawks both missed the playoffs.
Perhaps Boston sports aren't miles above everyone else anymore, but I can't really think of another town being above us. Boston teams have 6 titles in the 21st century. LA's teams have 4 (that's with 2 baseball teams, 2 hockey teams, and 2 basketball teams). The Spurs have won 3 for San Antonio. Miami has 2, New York (2 baseball, 2 football, 3 hockey) also has 2 titles.
So let's not line up on the Tobin or the Zakim. Let's not start crying because it's been four whole months since a championship parade. Let's be a little happier that we live in a town with the best football and baseball teams in the 21st century, along with the greatest basketball team IN HISTORY.
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma