Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Red Sox Preview: Catchers

Are the Red Sox deep at the catcher's position? That might be the positive way to look at it. I'd say that having more than one catcher is like an NFL team having more than one QB. They really have 0 QBs.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been the "catcher of the future" for 7 years and 3 organizations. I call him "kidney to kidney" because that's how far his name stretches across the back of his uniform. You don't need offensive production from the catcher's position, but it does help when the rotation is shallow, the bullpen is flimsy, and the lineup is top heavy.

Salty is a career .244 hitter. He showed some pop last year hitting 16 homeruns. He also struck out 119 times. He struggles to get his OBP over .300 and his SLG over .400. I have no reason to believe 2012 will be any different for him.

Ryan Lavarnway can hit. But that's about all he can do. He hit .467 his junior year in college. .284 in AA Portland and .295 in AAA Pawtucket last year. He hit 32 homeruns in 116 games between those two levels. Then 2 more homers in the Majors.

He's a defensive liability, but he could improve at the position with some more time in the minors. This is only his fourth full season in the Red Sox system. If he becomes a so-so defensive catcher, it's time for him to get a chance in the Majors.

Kelly Shoppach was acquired to be the backup catcher. That's not a bad role for the .224 career hitter (he weighs 220 pounds). He is capable of hitting homeruns (he hit 21 of them in 2008), but he's a poor man's Saltalamacchia.

Don't expect much production from the catcher's position. At least until Lavarnway earns his opportunity.

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