Monday, May 04, 2009

Players Who Should Retire - Special Edition

After today's posts, it was hoped that the whole "Guys who should retire" topic would be over. But one guy who was left off the list on purpose forced one more post on the subject. That guy? Jason Varitek.

The Fan prattled on quite extensively during the off season on how Varitek wasn't wanted nor worth the kind of money he received last year. But then the Red Sox went ahead and signed him at a fairly low-ball price when Varitek really didn't have any other options.

The Fan stayed fairly quiet on the topic because he started off fairly decently and because the Red Sox Nation is a pretty aggressive bunch and the Fan didn't want to be hung in effigy. But after today, the Fan can't keep quiet on the subject any more, and not just because of Carl Crawford.

First, let the Fan state for the record that a stolen base can be blamed just as much on the pitcher as on the catcher. If the pitcher is too slow to home, then that gives the catcher virtually no chance to catch the runner. Watching the game today, it was obvious that some of Crawford's steals were on the pitcher. But Crawford stole six bases, and on some of those, Varitek had a chance to get him and didn't.

But even that is not the full story. The Bay Rays stole eight bases in the game including Crawford's six. One of the thefts was by the Bay Rays' catcher, his first stolen base of the season. Varitek didn't throw any of them out. That's 0-8. Plus he made a throwing error.

But even that is not the full story. Varitek went 0-3 with two strikeouts. And so in his last two games played, Varitek is 1-7 with four strikeouts. The prediction here is that Varitek, though batting at .239 for the season currently, will end up around the .220 mark or lower.

But even that is not the full story. The Red Sox starting pitching was supposed to be their big strength and so far, the starters are all struggling, except for Tim Wakefield, who, of course, Varitek doesn't catch. He is supposed to be so good with pitchers calling a game. If he gets that kind of credit when they do well, doesn't he deserve the same kind of credit when they don't?

As for Carl Crawford, he tied a modern day record for stolen bases in a game with his six. He joined Otis Nixon (6/16/1991) and Eric Young (6/30/1996) at the top of the modern day list. If you include the dead ball era, Eddie Collins did it twice in 1912 (ten days apart!). But if you go back even farther, George Gore and Billy Hamilton stole seven in a game in the 1800s. Gore's was the earliest, occurring on June 25, 1881. Egads! Now a Gore will claim he invented the stolen base!


Francisco Serrano said...

Yes Varitek is old and way past his prime, but the lack of players in that position make him far from retirement. Last year he was a top 20, exactly 18 according to my rankings. This year he is even doing better. Compared to the Jason Kendalls, Chris Snyder & Miguel Olivo type, is not a surprise to me how Varitek can still have a job. It might not be the Red Soxs for the coming years but as long as this situation is happening he can have an every day job at the major leagues for as long as he wants.

Josh Borenstein said...

I was surprised the Red Sox resigned him, frankly. I thought they would be aggressive in the offseason and go after someone like Salty. Francisco is right about the scarcity of the position, though. There just aren't too many good catchers nowadays. One guy who I think gets overlooked is Yadier Molina. Arguably the best catcher in the game and is starting to figure it out with the bat, too.