With the playoff hopes of the Red Sox getting slimmer and slimmer by the day, some of the focus surrounding the team is now shifting to 2013. One of the questions with next year’s team is – who will be the starting catcher?
During the beginning of this season and even at the All-Star break there was no question it would be Jarrod Saltalmacchia, but with his struggles in the second half and the recalling of Ryan Lavarnway, could Lavarnway be the Red Sox’ number one guy behind the plate next year?
Lavarnway, 25, hasn’t impressed much in his 10 games and 31 at bats since being recalled on Aug. 2 as he only has recorded four hits in that span. But, why would the Red Sox have called him up and traded back up catcher Kelly Shoppach if they didn’t have intentions of making Lavarnway a major part of their plans next season?
He was called up for 17 games last September where he hit .231, but it has always been known that hitting is his strength; it has been his defensive play that has held him back.
It is evident the Red Sox want to get him as much time behind the plate as they can since, as of Wednesday’s game, three of his last four starts have come behind the plate. He has even saw time catching veterans Jon Lester and Josh Beckett.
If the Red Sox were not serious about his future, Saltalamachhia would be catching everyday and Lavarnway would be getting a spot start here and there.
Despite hitting an impressive 21 home runs going into Wednesday’s action, Saltalamacchia has virtually disappeared at the plate, especially in the second half.
For the season he is hitting .229 and only .202 in the second half. The 27-year-old has struck out 107 times in 308 plate appearances, which equates to striking out once in every 2.89 at bats.
Saltalamacchia learned a lot from Jason Varitek, who he shared the catching duties with last season. He said last month his job behind the plate is more important than what he does at the plate.
“Right now, it’s not going too well but you know what, my job is behind the plate,” Saltalamacchia said. “So, I haven’t been contributing much at the plate but I think I’ve been doing pretty well behind the plate, and that’s what matters most, getting these pitchers through the game and anything else is a bonus.”
Contrary to what he said, the Red Sox are 35-47 in games he has started going into Wednesday.
With a record of eight games below .500 and a .229 average at the plate, could the Red Sox part ways with Saltalamachhia and go with younger player, who has more of an upside, like Lavarnway as their starting catcher in 2013? Don’t be surprised if they do.