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Catchers: Future and Present


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#1 Trotsky

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 04:53 PM

With Varitek officially a thing of the past (no surprise) we are now in a new era behind the dish. This season it looks like we'll see a platoon of Belly Shoppach and Saltalamacchia.
Despite scouting reports, Lavarnway looks like the real deal to me. He's smart and has an arm, two of the most important skills to be a good catcher. I think he'll eventually become a part time C with Salty after this season and could see him called up if one of the two get injured, or at least a late season expanded roster callup. By '13 he'll be on the 25 man though, and if he can continue to improve his defensive skills, we've got one of the best young catchers in the game!
Beyond him, I can't comment too much on Swihart or anyone else in the system. I'd be curious to know others feelings not just on what to expect out of Lavarnway, but out of Shoppach, Salty and the rest.

I'm expecting Salty to have an improved year behind the plate, and to start off the season a bit better than last with 20 HR's for the season, 785 OPS. Shoppach I'll be happy as hell if he comes up with a .700 OPS.

#2 Eck'sSneakyCheese


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Posted 01 March 2012 - 05:09 PM

Pretty spot on. I was impressed with Lavarnway last year and was surprised he wasn't in consideration to play this year at the ML level. I thought he looked great too in all phases despite the scouting reports as you said.

I originally didn't think there'd be a platoon this year but after seeing that Shoppachs OPS v. LHP is .909 for his career, I'd have to think that he's going to play more in those situations.

Swihart needs a few years of seasoning and bulking up (6'1" 175) but could turn out to be a really good all around catcher from what scouting reports have said. Seeing how he'll be 20 in April there's still plenty of time.

#3 Sampo Gida

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 11:51 PM

He caught all of 26 IP last year with the Red Sox so I can't say much about him defensively.

From the numbers he had a heck of a run with the Pawsox, so if anything happens to Shoppach or Salty I would guess he would be first in line for a call up, although Esposito may or may not be a better defensive option.

#4 MikeM

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 12:21 AM

Pretty spot on. I was impressed with Lavarnway last year and was surprised he wasn't in consideration to play this year at the ML level. I thought he looked great too in all phases despite the scouting reports as you said.

I originally didn't think there'd be a platoon this year but after seeing that Shoppachs OPS v. LHP is .909 for his career, I'd have to think that he's going to play more in those situations.


I'm pretty bull'ish on Lavarnway despite the current scouting reports as well, to the extent i'm probably among the select few out there on the limb that would argue a top spot for him on our prospect list. I also wouldn't read that much into the signing of Shoppach either, as i can't see a minor commitment like that being much of a roadblock if/when they want to call Lavarnway up and get him into mix.

Not sure where i stand atm on Salty's prospect of being the full time answer going forward. He faded pretty hard after lighting it up those 2 mid-season months, with that September line being downright painful.

Edited by MikeM, 02 March 2012 - 12:22 AM.


#5 pantsparty

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 12:45 AM

I originally didn't think there'd be a platoon this year but after seeing that Shoppachs OPS v. LHP is .909 for his career, I'd have to think that he's going to play more in those situations.


Shoppach and Saltalamacchia make a perfect platoon. Salty hits RHP well (career .772 OPS) but sucks against LHP (.604 OPS), while Shoppach crushes LHP (.909 OPS) and sucks against RHP (.646 OPS). I'm looking forward to no longer seeing weak crappy grounders from Salty batting right-handed.

#6 Stanley Steamer

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 01:42 AM

The Sox seem pretty well set up in this position. I agree with the sentiment that Salty and Shoppach will form a platoon (something like 70/30), with Lavarnway starting in AAA. But I wouldn't be surprised if Lavarnway plays himself into the majors before long. Maybe an injury will make room for him. Otherwise, Shoppach will likely be sacrificed. I want to salute Tek for his fantastic career with the team, but I'm hoping we continue to see an improvement in holding the opponents running game, especially those bastiches from Tampa.

#7 rglenmt

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:31 AM

Jason Vtek certainly deserves nothing but praise for his fine career with the Red Sox. As a catcher I still have visions of Vtek's hustle when trying to catch a difficult foul ball, difficult mostly cause it fell a pretty good distance from home plate, but, the fact that Jason made the effort, fell on his arm an injury which could have ended a catcher's career. Just think of the the great games, not just NO NO's, that Jason caught and he has to be 1 of the 2 best all round catchers in my watching inumerable Red Sox games. Carlton "Pudge" Fisk will always be thought of as the greatest, even though Pudge exercised his free agency rights cause GM Mr. Sullivan(father of Marc) did not postmark Pudge's Contract and played many of his Hall of Fame seasons as a White Sox.

I only hope fans will not belabor criticism of Vtek for the Captain not somehow miraculously stopped the fried chicken and beer sessions. We forget that the 2 culprit pitchers, Josh Beckett and a young but established veteran Jon Lester, are smart enough to know what they were doing or not doing and are the ones who lost their starts during the September swoon.

Anyway, remember when fans were crying that the Old Towne team did not have a HOF catcher in waiting behind Vtek, wanted Chris Iannetta from the Rockies, whom I feel certain, will benefit from playing for Mike Scioscia, General Teegarden from the Rangers, Salty from the Rangers, etc. etc., all of whom may not be as good a find as Ryan Lavarnway, a hitter with the most upside of any, who may prove to be a fine self made catcher, self made just as Pudge Fisk, who did not hit all that well in the minors, but for a fairly tall man, became an extremely valuable defensive catcher with hard work.

Respectfully submitted,


rglenmt f/k/a Pudgefick

#8 jnlevetoncnmt

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 08:45 AM

Are you talking about 2001 when Tek broke his elbow diving for the ball behind home plate? I'm still mad about that.

"Anyway, remember when fans were crying tha the Old Towne team did not have a HOF catcher in waiting behind Vtek"

I don't remember anyone, on this board at least, crying that we did not have HOF catcher behind Tek. I remember a lot of debate regarding the fact that the backup catcher basically had to be able to handle Tim Wakefield's knuckleball, which in turn seemed to handcuff the front office with regards to the choice of backup. It was Doug Mirabelli for a while, then the offensively challenged Kevin Cash for a year. I like the platoon we have now, and having Lavarnway as insurance creates a better situation than most teams have at catcher. No team willingly keeps HOF's as backups.

#9 alwyn96

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 07:25 PM

I think the consensus is generally that Lavarnway's defense just isn't major-league level yet. He didn't look terrible in his call-up last year, but I recall him ever being seriously tested by the running game. His pitch-framing wasn't great. I don't think his bat is really the question at this point, although any talk of him being a HoFer at this point is kind of silly. Just having a league-average C would fine, and that's probably what we've got now with Salty/Shoppach. League-average with some upside.

I'm not sure what a self-made catcher is, but I'll take whoever can do the job well.

#10 koufax37

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 10:10 PM

I think Lavarnway would be a pretty good fit at his current defensive abilities as a powerful offensive catcher. I'm not saying he would be like Piazza or that Scioscia would let him play, but I think he would make up for what he gives up defensively with his offense.

But with Salty/Shoppach completely solid sharing time, there isn't a reason to rush him, and I would rather he get 500ABs this year, gets a callup when rosters expand, and hopefully can be a bigger contributor in 2013. I would also love to see him play some corner OF along with Lars to see if he has any value in other positions.

#11 Sampo Gida

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 01:34 AM

Catchers Lavarnways age are constantly improving. Apparently he has made progress over the past year. I would not write his defense off just yet.

http://boston.redsox...ws_bos&c_id=bos

But Lavarnway's biggest improvement this spring has come behind the plate. He's been better calling games, working with pitchers, receiving, blocking and throwing. Valentine said he hasn't necessarily seen him make those strides in game situations, but Lavarnway has nonetheless left his manager and bullpen coach Gary Tuck impressed.;;;

.... Valentine said he wouldn't expect a catcher to come out of the Minors fully developed and with a set of Major League-ready defensive skills.



#12 alwyn96

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 08:24 PM

Catchers can certainly improve their defense, but plenty don't. Jesus Montero's defense has always been in question, and he's even younger than Lavarnway. I don't think anyone's writing off his defense, but it's apparently a work in progress. It'll probably never be great, but hopefully he can get it to good enough.