Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reviewing Our Rivals

You probably already heard that Valentine took some light jabs at the Yankees yesterday, saying that Jeter was out of position during the flip play, and that he fondly remembers Varitek beating up A-Rod. We at the RJG were grateful that Valentine made these comments, because it reminded us that we haven't done our rivalry review that we typically do this time of year. As a matter of fact, we kind of forgot the Red Sox were there. They finished in third place last year with a restocked lineup that promised to be the best offensive team in baseball last March. They then slipped under the radar this winter, and are going into spring training with far less expectations then they had one year ago. This may not be completely fair, because the Red Sox still have a good team. On the plus side, they still have Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkillis, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz, all of whom know how to handle a bat. Plus, a healthy Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, and Josh Beckett lead their rotation, and newly acquired Andrew Bailey should be a decent replacement for Papelbon. But with that said how do the Red Sox compare (on paper) to the Yankees this year? Well here goes our position by position review beginning with the central piece to any team, the catcher.

Russell Martin vs. Jarod Saltalamacchia

Its no secret that the Red Sox weren't exactly happy with Saltalamacchia last year. He logged 358 at bats as the primary catcher, and ended with a .235 average with 16 homeruns and 56 RBI's. He had 26 passed balls and 83 stolen bases against him, both career highs, though in fairness the Red Sox did have a knuckleballer on their team. He also had a career high in strikeouts with 119 last year. All things considered, it was not the season the Red Sox hoped for as Victor Martinez' replacement.

Russell Martin had his first full season behind the plate since being hobbled by injuries since 2009. Some of his numbers were oddly similar to Saltalamacchia. A .237 average with 18 homeruns and 65 RBI's is what he finished with. Although Martin only had 4 passed balls, he also allowed 95 stolen bases (a career high). However, Martin drew twice the amount of walks as Saltalamacchia (50 vs. 24), and struck out far less (81 in 417 at bats for Martin, while Saltalamacchia struck out 119 times in 358 at bats). I would say that Saltalamacchia, who was coming from Texas and was now on a new team needed some time for adjustment, but Martin was also new, and he came from the National League where a greater need for adjustment would be needed.

So who gets the edge? I give it to Martin. Martin switched leagues and was coming off an injury and was able to be more productive than Saltalamacchia. I don't suspect his second season in pinstripes, in a contract year, will see him slow down. Barring injury, Martin will be a better offensive force than Saltalamacchia while providing similar defense.


Roberto E. Alejandro said...

It's going to be easy to beat the Red Sox this year. All we have to do, is sneak some fried chicken into their clubhouse every time we play. That'll be easy to do at Yankee Stadium (since we literally own the place), and probably not much harder than placing a delivery order in Boston. 18-0 baby. 18-0.

Rich Mahogany said...

What you don't realize is that the fried chicken made the Red Sox better at baseball. If they had not eaten the chicken, they would have had nothing in their stomachs when they drank all that beer.

And in AJ Burnett news, he will need surgery after bunting a ball into his face. I have nothing to add to this.

Roberto E. Alejandro said...

If I played for Pittsburgh, I'd probably try to take myself out of my misery too.

Anonymous said...

I like Russell Martin. He came as a substitute to none other than Posada, and he played well. I agree with you. I expect him to do even better this year.

Rich Mahogany said...

I also expect big things from RNCJM (that's Russell Nathan Coltrane Jeanson Martin to you).