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ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney checks in Sunday morning on the Red Sox catching situation ,
which got more interesting Saturday with the signing of long-time
backup David Ross. The Sox now have a surplus of backstops: Jarrod
Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway and now Ross. Here are some highlights
from Olney's take:
* A lot of what Boston does with its catching depends on what the Red Sox are saying in their internal evaluations of Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway, and whether they really see either as the guy as a frontline catcher in 2014 and 2015.
* While the 25-year-old Lavarnway has intriguing power -- he hit 32 homers in the minors in 2011 -- some rival evaluators have some serious questions about whether he can be a catcher in the major leagues, just as some have never viewed Jesus Montero as someone who could play the position. "I've never seen a catcher with actions that slow," said one evaluator of Lavarnway. "Ever."
* From a longtime evaluator: "The Red Sox don't think they have the right everyday guy on their roster. Salty is too inconsistent behind the plate and struggles hitting left-handed pitching. Lavarnway has to hit a lot to be the everyday guy to make up for his below-average defense, which is a big question because of how his offensive season went in 2012. [David] Ross is a good sign for them, but he is a guy you can't overexpose.
* The guess here is that Boston will go with Saltalamacchia and Ross, while continuing Lavarnway's development in the minors.
Getting a different perspective on Lavarnway from Olney clears this situation up a bit. We've been hearing all along that the Sox do see Lavarnway as Major League-ready, despite his struggles this fall. The Ross signing pretty much flies in the face of that -- unless they plan on moving Salty or Lavarnway.
I wrote about all this yesterday, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much, but the Sox have three clear options here: Trade Salty or Lavarnway, keep all 3 with Boston and convert Salty to first, or let Lavarnway develop longer in Pawtucket.
Olney guesses the Sox drop Lavarnway back down. And, based on his 2012 showing, where he hit .157 and had an OPS of .459 (with a Fangraphs WAR of -1.3. Yikes!), maybe it's for the best. And, just to throw a wild outside-the-box option on the table, maybe keep Lavarnway in Pawtucket and see if you can convert him to first.
If he doesn't have the chops to play behind the plate at a high level, why force him there? He's shown that he's fairly skilled with the bat. Why not focus on progressing that aspect of his game, and let him forget about all the duties that come with being a catcher? Once Rizzo was traded, the Sox left themselves without any potential first baseman in the upper level of their system. Maybe Lavarnway can be that guy?
I think it's worth a shot.
Also, we at Ted's Army would like to wish a Happy Veteran's Day to all those that have served. Thank you!
Rest of the links:
Herald - Sox put more on plate | Agganis documentary stirs up many emotions | Globe -Red Sox sign David Ross, opening door for trades | With three catchers, Red Sox can talk trade | WEEI - Cornering the catching market? Why the Red Sox signed David Ross | CSNNE - McAdam: Ross signing gives Sox options