Thursday, February 21, 2008

Know Thy Enemy: Catcher

Next up in our position by position debate, we are going to review the catchers. If you are just catching on (no pun intended) we are beginning a debate on who has the better player at each position between the Red Sox and the Yankees. To be clear, this is not a debate on who has the better team, just the better player at each position. A debate on who has the better team would require much more than a position by position evaluation.

Red Sox Catcher

Jason Varitek has been a veteran presence for the Red Sox, and has handled the host of pitchers on the roster very well. Last season he caught a host of rookies and veterans (except Wakefield) and in my opinion handled them well. Varitek however, is on a decline. Last season he batted .255 with 17 homeruns and 68 RBI's. He is reaching the age where catchers tend to break down, and Varitek has the knee surgeries to prove it. The question for him is will he be able to reverse the course of aging next season, or will he continue on his slide?

Yankees Catcher

Jorge Posada had a monster season in the walk year of his contract. He batted over .300 for the first time in his career, hitting .338 with 20 homeruns, and 90 RBI's. I think one of the more telling stats from Posada's season last year was his 42 doubles, which tell me that his legs are still under him. In comparison, Varitek had 15. Although Posada is a year older than Varitek and should be in his own decline, he has a few things working for him. He started his career as a second baseman but switched to catcher in the minors. Varitek, as far as I know, was a career catcher. Further more, Posada shared his time behind the plate with Joe Girardi through 1999, which limited the number of innings he played there. Posada has never been on the DL.

Winner: Yankees. Posada will begin his decline during this new contract, but I can't imagine it will all happen next season. He's coming off a career year and I expect him to be productive. On the other hand, I can't see Varitek making a big come back after having a rough (by his standards) offensive season last year. They both had a .994 fielding percentage for whatever that's worth.


Bucky7588 said...

I don't know though. There is one big difference...when Varitek gets into fights, he doesn't take off his mask, so his vision might be better. Jorge, like a man, does.

Roberto Alejandro said...

True, but Jorge has an edge, which is to say, he probably can fight.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, that's funny. I remember during the melee between the Sox and Yankees in 2003 when Zimmer went nuts that Jorge came out with his mask on....from the dugout no less! Maybe that's where Jason learned that move in '04!

Oh, and by the way, Varitek has had ONE surgery to the knee, near the end of 2006.

Exactly what has Jorge done for the pitching staff in the last few years? How far have they gone with his expertise behind the plate? Didn't think so, but yeah, that bat's hot! whoop whoop!

Bucky7588 said...

except for the fact that the yankees had so many rookie pitchers last year to mentor and catch. I know it must have been hard for Varitek to catch all those veterans. Poor baby :(

Anonymous said...

you know, i'm gonna have to jump in here. Varitek has had some pretty good years in the past, but last year posada had a batting line of .338/.426/.543. Seriously, look at those numbers! Thats an OPS of .970! For a catcher! Thats just sick. Look, I love Varitek, but I'm gonna call bullshit that he mentors young pitchers and is a great game caller. I would say the minor league system that they came up through mentored them, and they just have some crazy skills, or they wouldnt be pitching for a living in the first place. He can call for the perfect pitch, but if they miss taht location, their screwed. I've said this before. I'm a red sox fan, but for some reason every homer thinks tek is a god of intangibles, and that apparently puts him heads and shoulders above the rest of the leagues catchers. Yes, Tek is very good, he still had the 4th best OPS among catchers in the league, but Posada, right now, is the better catcher (offensivly at least).

-Fred Trigger

Anonymous said...

Hard to catch all those veterans? Do you know who is in the Sox bullpen? What about these guys: Clay Buchholz (who threw a no-hitter), Jon Lester, Devern Hansack, Kyle Snyder, Bryan Corey, hell what about Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima? Yeah, that Varitek really had it easy last season with all the veterans!

Please spare me the "the yankees had so many rookie pitchers last year to mentor and catch"!

Fernando Alejandro said...

The argument still stands. Posada is still better than Varitek, and there's no way that if Posada was a Red Sox player and Varitek was a Yankee you would be defending him. If you're argument is he calls a better game because he caught a no hitter than I think you've forgotten the perfect game Posada caught. Just because Varitek caught one last year doesn't mean he's any better at calling a game because Posada caught it a few years back. They both can call a good game. Put that aside and what you have left is a catcher clearly in decline and another catcher coming off the best season of his career.