Where I try to talk you off the ledge and into Gregg Zaun…
The Red Sox are still going to be in good position to challenge for the AL East title and/or the wild card. It’s just going to be a rougher road. Seriously, they’re not going to go from one of the top teams in baseball to battling in the basement with the Blue Jays because they missed out on one free agent. And a free agent that plays the same position as a guy that is coming off an MVP caliber year.
While it might not seem like the Sox are doing much this offseason because they didn’t get Mark “I let my wife pick the team I’m going to play for” Teixeira (your move Kris Benson) they have focused on addressing their needs. Teixeira was a want for the Sox, they still need a catcher but they also needed another bullpen arm, a 4-5 starter and a fourth outfielder.
The Sox got the bullpen arm they need in the Coco Crisp trade picking up 26 year old righty Ramon Ramirez. Ramirez went 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA, 70 Ks and 31 BBs in 71 2/3 innings, for the Royals, so those are pretty solid numbers especially when you consider the run support he got in KC.
The Sox also added Brad Penny, who I talked about in my last post, to be their second attempt at the Bartolo Colon experiment. Personally I think Penny for 5 million is a great deal for a guy like Penny, who should be able to bounce back well enough to fit the role the Sox have him pegged for. Honestly did you really want them to shell out big bucks for D-Lowe to come back and be the 4th starter? It’s pretty clear that Beckett, Lester and Dice-K are your 1-3, so it makes more sense for the Sox to save some money and go with Penny then try to resign Tek for two years and make a play for a guy like Taylor Teagarden.
They also got a break glass in case of emergency catcher in Josh Bard. I highly doubt he’s going to be a starter, like I said before he’s the 2009 version of Kevin Cash. I just hope he learns how to catch the knuckleball. I’m not sure another police escort Doug Mirabelli entrance will do.
Clearly the team’s most glaring need is a catcher. Ideally you’d love to see them resign Tek so they can have him groom his eventual replacement and his ideal replacement would be someone like Teagarden, unless they really think they can make a push for Joe Mauer when he becomes a free agent.
Another option the Red Sox have been reportedly exploring is bringing in Gregg Zaun. Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Gregg Zaun is as good a signing as CC, Burnett, Teixeira or even Pat Burrell but he is certainly a capable starter.
Zaun’s old but he’s played in the AL East for the last five seasons and his numbers really aren’t all that dissimilar from Varitek’s.
Zaun 2004-2008 w/ Toronto
Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG
2004 107 338 46 91 24 0 6 36 .269 .367 .393
2005 133 434 61 109 18 1 11 61 .251 .355 .373
2006 99 290 39 79 19 0 12 40 .272 .363 .462
2007 110 331 43 80 24 1 10 52 .242 .341 .411
2008 86 245 29 58 12 0 6 30 .237 .340 .359
Varitek 2004-2008 w/ Sox
Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG
2004 137 463 67 137 30 1 18 73 .296 .390 .482
2005 133 470 70 132 30 1 22 70 .281 .366 .489
2006 103 365 46 87 19 2 12 55 .238 .325 .400
2007 131 435 57 111 15 3 17 68 .255 .367 .421
2008 131 423 37 93 20 0 13 43 .220 .313 .359
Tek’s numbers are better, but not by as much as you would think, especially over the last two seasons. Now to be fair to Tek, who again I hope will be back, he played in way more games and had way more at bats than Zaun did. Realistically Zaun would be the perfect fit for the spot that Josh Bard is set to occupy but offensively you’d probably see similar results from Zaun and/or Varitek.
Once again though Tek’s value is more important behind the plate. The pitchers love throwing to him and it can only help the staff to have him behind the plate again. If Manny Ramirez isn’t generating much interest from teams I really can’t imagine anyone is offering all of King Midas’ silver for Varitek.
I really hope they resign Tek because I’m not sure if I can keep talking myself into Gregg Zaun.
(stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com)