Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

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    Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    From an article at WEEI.com:

     The pregame image is distinct from what transpires in the rest of the clubhouse. While a good majority of the Red Sox players alternate their time before a game between workouts, treatment and relaxing, Jarrod Saltalmacchia and Jason Varitek are seemingly in constant motion.

    The pair of Red Sox catchers move like they don't have enough minutes in the day. Hitting. Catching. Coordinating. Studying. Three hours before first pitch only means the duo can't afford to waste the next 180 minutes.

    The approach is paying off.

    What once was a hot topic in the midst of the Red Sox' April uneasiness -- the Red Sox catching situation -- has disappeared into the place where all things positive go to rest. It would be fair to say that Bengie Molina's name has been mentioned for the last time when it comes to fixing the Sox.

    "The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence," said Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan. "We've got confidence in the guys. They had to understand it was just 40 at-bats at the beginning of the season, and while those 40 at-bats might not have been pretty, you're preaching for them to believe in the process. And as a coach you have to believe in the process and that it is going to turn around."

    And turn around it did.

    The latest punctuation on the resurgence of the Red Sox' catching situation came during the team's 5-2 win over the Phillies Thursday afternoon. Jason Varitek -- hitting as high as fifth for the first time since 2007 -- launched a pair of home runs over the Citizens Bank Park right field fence.

    The offensive output made some stand up and notice what had been quietly one of the Sox' best success stories of the season.

    By the time April ended, Varitek was hitting .111, while Saltalamacchia stood at .216. Talks of prospects, Molina and some Russell Martin what-could-have-beens circulated through the airwaves. There were questions regarding who could catch certain pitchers, and how the Sox were possibly going to survive a season with the 38-year-old and an unproven backstop.

    Now, as we sit here exactly two months later, reality has turned 180 degrees.

    Since May 1, Varitek has the second-best OPS (.935) of any catcher, while Saltalamacchia stands at No. 8 (.846). In that time the captain's batting average is .309, with his protege coming in at .270.

    Overall, for the season, the catching duo has presented the Red Sox with one of the best sources of catching production in the majors. They are fifth in slugging percentage (.428), seventh in OPS (.755), 11th in batting average (.252) and take the sixth-most pitches per plate appearance of any catching combination (4.05).

    Saltalamacchia: 50 games; 162 at-bats; .253 batting average; 5 HRs; .752 OPS; 3.89 pitches per plate appearance.

    Varitek: 38 games; 117 at-bats; .248 batting average; 5 HRs; .752 OPS; 4.25 pitches per plate appearance.

    "Just a lot of hard work on both their parts," Magadan said. "With Salty, it was just slowing down, getting him to take deep breaths between pitches and calming him down so he's under control and not swinging at max effort all the time. He's dangerous.

    "Tek, what he's done since I've been here is be able to switch from catching every day to physically feel stronger with the rotation. I think he feels confident. I thought he looked very confident last year before he got hurt. You couple it with the way he did last year and this is as good as I've seen him in a while."

    And, defensively, there has been a sense of steadiness since some April uncertainty. Saltalamacchia has thrown out 18.2 percent of the runners attempting to steal (10-of-45), while Varitek is at 18.4 percent (7-of-31). While the efficiency isn't league-leading, it is an upgrade on the everyday numbers turned in by Victor Martinez (14.7 percent) last season.

    In all, the two players have made catching one less thing the Red Sox have to worry.

    "They've worked at it," said Magadan, "and now it's paying off."

     
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    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]From an article at WEEI.com:  The pregame image is distinct from what transpires in the rest of the clubhouse. While a good majority of the Red Sox players alternate their time before a game between workouts, treatment and relaxing, Jarrod Saltalmacchia and Jason Varitek are seemingly in constant motion. The pair of Red Sox catchers move like they don't have enough minutes in the day. Hitting. Catching. Coordinating. Studying. Three hours before first pitch only means the duo can't afford to waste the next 180 minutes. The approach is paying off. What once was a hot topic in the midst of the Red Sox' April uneasiness -- the Red Sox catching situation -- has disappeared into the place where all things positive go to rest. It would be fair to say that Bengie Molina's name has been mentioned for the last time when it comes to fixing the Sox. "The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence," said Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan. "We've got confidence in the guys. They had to understand it was just 40 at-bats at the beginning of the season, and while those 40 at-bats might not have been pretty, you're preaching for them to believe in the process. And as a coach you have to believe in the process and that it is going to turn around." And turn around it did. The latest punctuation on the resurgence of the Red Sox' catching situation came during the team's 5-2 win over the Phillies Thursday afternoon. Jason Varitek -- hitting as high as fifth for the first time since 2007 -- launched a pair of home runs over the Citizens Bank Park right field fence. The offensive output made some stand up and notice what had been quietly one of the Sox' best success stories of the season. By the time April ended, Varitek was hitting .111, while Saltalamacchia stood at .216. Talks of prospects, Molina and some Russell Martin what-could-have-beens circulated through the airwaves. There were questions regarding who could catch certain pitchers, and how the Sox were possibly going to survive a season with the 38-year-old and an unproven backstop. Now, as we sit here exactly two months later, reality has turned 180 degrees. Since May 1, Varitek has the second-best OPS (.935) of any catcher, while Saltalamacchia stands at No. 8 (.846). In that time the captain's batting average is .309, with his protege coming in at .270. Overall, for the season, the catching duo has presented the Red Sox with one of the best sources of catching production in the majors. They are fifth in slugging percentage (.428), seventh in OPS (.755), 11th in batting average (.252) and take the sixth-most pitches per plate appearance of any catching combination (4.05).  What is also fairly remarkable is just how similar the two players find themselves in the statistical world after all the pitfalls that came with the season's first month. Here are the stat lines for each: Saltalamacchia: 50 games; 162 at-bats; .253 batting average; 5 HRs; .752 OPS; 3.89 pitches per plate appearance. Varitek: 38 games; 117 at-bats; .248 batting average; 5 HRs; .752 OPS; 4.25 pitches per plate appearance. "Just a lot of hard work on both their parts," Magadan said. "With Salty, it was just slowing down, getting him to take deep breaths between pitches and calming him down so he's under control and not swinging at max effort all the time. He's dangerous. "Tek, what he's done since I've been here is be able to switch from catching every day to physically feel stronger with the rotation. I think he feels confident. I thought he looked very confident last year before he got hurt. You couple it with the way he did last year and this is as good as I've seen him in a while." And, defensively, there has been a sense of steadiness since some April uncertainty. Saltalamacchia has thrown out 18.2 percent of the runners attempting to steal (10-of-45), while Varitek is at 18.4 percent (7-of-31). While the efficiency isn't league-leading, it is an upgrade on the everyday numbers turned in by Victor Martinez (14.7 percent) last season. In all, the two players have made catching one less thing the Red Sox have to worry. "They've worked at it," said Magadan, "and now it's paying off."
    Posted by mrmojo1120[/QUOTE]

    Really great stuff, Mojo. Thanks.

    Just goes to show how patience can be rewarding.


     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from moonslav59. Show moonslav59's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    Even if these two slow down quite a bit, they should still end up with a .793 combined OPS by the end of this year to equal last year's team catching OPS.

    Victor who?
     
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    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    Isn't that what you projected?
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from moonslav59. Show moonslav59's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    I think I projected .780, but said it was possible if Tito platooned them by lefty-righty, not as caddies, they could pass .793.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from nhsteven. Show nhsteven's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    A good, interesting article about this catching tandem, and it seems Varitek is hitting better now (and last yr, as was pointed out) vs a couple of yrs ago. The only thing I don't like about the article is the Spin on the CS; 18 % still s-cks; it's like saying "He hit .120 last yr, but now he's hitting .160". 
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from nhsteven. Show nhsteven's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]I think I projected .780, but said it was possible if Tito platooned them by lefty-righty, not as caddies, they could pass .793.
    Posted by moonslav59[/QUOTE]

    Point taken, but WOW, that's really specific. I don't think you need to go that level of precison. JMO.
     
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    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]A good, interesting article about this catching tandem, and it seems Varitek is hitting better now (and last yr, as was pointed out) vs a couple of yrs ago. The only thing I don't like about the article is the Spin on the CS; 18 % still s-cks; it's like saying "He hit .120 last yr, but now he's hitting .160". 
    Posted by nhsteven[/QUOTE]

    You've gotta remember the Redsox don't avocate using the slidestep, so the CS rate will be lower for any catcher that comes to Boston as opposed to his rate elsewhere.
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from nhsteven. Show nhsteven's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek : You've gotta remember the Redsox don't avocate using the slidestep, so the CS rate will be lower for any catcher that comes to Boston as opposed to his rate elsewhere.
    Posted by harness[/QUOTE]

    Well, 10 yrs ago Varitek had a gun, slidestep not withstanding. Don't tell He Who Shall Not Be Named.


     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from expitch. Show expitch's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek : You've gotta remember the Redsox don't avocate using the slidestep, so the CS rate will be lower for any catcher that comes to Boston as opposed to his rate elsewhere.
    Posted by harness[/QUOTE]
    Good point. Nor, it seems to me, that Sox pitchers step off a lot in order to freeze runners in place.

     
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    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    They do it by holding the ball for extended periods just prior to releasing it.
    As a fan, it's nerve-racking to watch.
     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from nhsteven. Show nhsteven's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In general, I thing Pitchers worry too much about the baserunner; so I agree with the RS approach. How many times do you see a pitcher implode and the game lost because of worrying about the guy taking 2nd? I'm not saying forget about him completely, but don't let it mess you up either, either mentally and/or mechanically. Err on the side of paying less attention to him. Wills, Brock, & Henderson were very valuable because of this dynamic. I never saw Rivera affected by this; admittedly, it's the only part of his game that's below average, because he basically DGAC. He's worried about the batter. (In fact, in the Torre bk, he regrets not telling Rivera to pay more attention to Roberts in the pivotal game 4 of the '04 Series) However, my point about the article and it's discussion of CS still stands, even though it's just a trifle.
     
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    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]In general, I thing Pitchers worry too much about the baserunner; so I agree with the RS approach. How many times do you see a pitcher implode and the game lost because of worrying about the guy taking 2nd? I'm not saying forget about him completely, but don't let it mess you up either, either mentally and/or mechanically. Err on the side of paying less attention to him. Wills, Brock, & Henderson were very valuable because of this dynamic. I never saw Rivera affected by this; admittedly, it's the only part of his game that's below average, because he basically DGAC. He's worried about the batter. (In fact, in the Torre bk, he regrets not telling Rivera to pay more attention to Roberts in the pivotal game 4 of the '04 Series) However, my point about the article and it's discussion of CS still stands, even though it's just a trifle.
    Posted by nhsteven[/QUOTE]

    Well, the article would have been short-sighted to have ignored it altogether.
    The REDSOX obviously feels as you do regarding pitcher concentration. Personally, I agree to a point. But I do think pitchers should familiarize themselves with it when certain situations dictate it's usage.

    2004 was a great example.
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from nhsteven. Show nhsteven's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek : Well, the article would have been short-sighted to have ignored it altogether. The REDSOX obviously feels as you do regarding pitcher concentration. Personally, I agree to a point. But I do think pitchers should familiarize themselves with it when certain situations dictate it's usage. 2004 was a great example.
    Posted by harness[/QUOTE]

    Blowing up due to baserunners is often a rookie/2nd yr thing (Or a veteran brain-dead thing), too. 

    As far as the article is concerned; it's attempting to be sunny; (Also, I'm not convinced yet that Salty is a bona-fide starting MLB C yet either). The article should have said "While throwing out baserunners hasn't improved much ....")
     
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    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    They made an analogy to VMART'S poor numbers. That sufficed!
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from nhsteven. Show nhsteven's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    Granted, IMO, that's partly valid. Let's move on. 
     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from BizzaroLaw. Show BizzaroLaw's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    Nice.
     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from craze4sox. Show craze4sox's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek : Blowing up due to baserunners is often a rookie/2nd yr thing (Or a veteran brain-dead thing), too.  As far as the article is concerned; it's attempting to be sunny ; (Also, I'm not convinced yet that Salty is a bona-fide starting MLB C yet either). The article should have said "While throwing out baserunners hasn't improved much ....")
    Posted by nhsteven[/QUOTE]

    I'm not either nhsteven, Theo see's a lot of likenesses between Salty and a younger Tek but whether real talent is there to consistently improve remains to be seen.  Salty is doing pretty well but there are two guys in the minors who could have more overall talent in a year or two.
     
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    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    The work ethic and the tools are all there for Salty. Hes had Tuck and Tek working with him for a solid year now and its paying off. By years end we should all know what the offseason will bring in regards to the catching position. I would have NO ISSUE with this tandum next year if the trend keeps heading upward.
     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from moonslav59. Show moonslav59's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    The only thing I don't like about the article is the Spin on the CS; 18 % still s-cks; it's like saying "He hit .120 last yr, but now he's hitting .160". 

    I see Salty at 23% CS rate and VTek at 21% on baseball reference. It's not great, but it's not really terrible either.

    VTek has been no higher than 23% since 2003. He was at 13% in 2009.
     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from nhsteven. Show nhsteven's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]The only thing I don't like about the article is the Spin on the CS; 18 % still s-cks; it's like saying "He hit .120 last yr, but now he's hitting .160".  I see Salty at 23% CS rate and VTek at 21% on baseball reference. It's not great, but it's not really terrible either. VTek has been no higher than 23% since 2003. He was at 13% in 2009.
    Posted by moonslav59[/QUOTE]

    I was basing it on the article; if those are the actual #s, that's somewhat of an improvement.
     
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from ma6dragon9. Show ma6dragon9's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek : You've gotta remember the Redsox don't avocate using the slidestep, so the CS rate will be lower for any catcher that comes to Boston as opposed to his rate elsewhere.
    Posted by harness[/QUOTE]

    Excellent point. This goes back to the days of Joe Kerrigan when Varitek was using more of a first baseman's mitt to help frame pitches at the expensive of his release time to second. Drove fans crazy then, it will continue to drive fans crazy to see opponents taking free bags. But I'm with Kerrigan and current thoughts about worrying about the hitter. You get the hitter, the runner gets stranded more times than not.

    As for Salty, I'm so happy to see it. The impatience with a 26 year old one time blue-chip prospect was maddening to me. I, as well as others kept saying "give him the year, and let him have the confidence of knowing it's his." The Sox did that, and he's coming around very nicely. He's still learning every day, I look at C in baseball akin to QB in football. It takes new, young guys about 2 years to really get acclimated. Some guys do it faster, and are usually all world players. Most, however, still take some seasoning and knowledge (team specific knowledge at that, nevermind league/divisional knowledge) to become good players. I don't think Salty will ever be in HOF discussions, but I could easily see him blossoming into a solid all star in his late 20s. Post-'roids, the catching position is no longer a position for .280 hitters with 25-30 HRs. .260-.280 and 20 hrs, at any point, would thrill me from the C position. And if you stretch it out, they're looking at about a combined .260 and 20 hrs. I'll take that every year.
     
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from slomag. Show slomag's posts

    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    It looks like there might be help on the way in the CS department.  Ryan Lavarnway, in addition to tearing up IL pitching since being called up, has thrown out 4 of 11 would-be base stealers for  36%, to go along with his 38% (14 of 37) in AA.

    With Cameron gone, and Navarro able to play both OF and IF positions, maybe it wouldn't be a terrible idea to carry three catchers.  
     
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    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    Since Varitek is a tenured professor with stiff joints, it would be a very good idea.
     
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    Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek

    In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Catching up with Saltalamacchia and Varitek : Excellent point. This goes back to the days of Joe Kerrigan when Varitek was using more of a first baseman's mitt to help frame pitches at the expensive of his release time to second. Drove fans crazy then, it will continue to drive fans crazy to see opponents taking free bags. But I'm with Kerrigan and current thoughts about worrying about the hitter. You get the hitter, the runner gets stranded more times than not. As for Salty, I'm so happy to see it. The impatience with a 26 year old one time blue-chip prospect was maddening to me. I, as well as others kept saying "give him the year, and let him have the confidence of knowing it's his." The Sox did that, and he's coming around very nicely. He's still learning every day, I look at C in baseball akin to QB in football. It takes new, young guys about 2 years to really get acclimated. Some guys do it faster, and are usually all world players. Most, however, still take some seasoning and knowledge (team specific knowledge at that, nevermind league/divisional knowledge) to become good players. I don't think Salty will ever be in HOF discussions, but I could easily see him blossoming into a solid all star in his late 20s. Post-'roids, the catching position is no longer a position for .280 hitters with 25-30 HRs. .260-.280 and 20 hrs, at any point, would thrill me from the C position. And if you stretch it out, they're looking at about a combined .260 and 20 hrs. I'll take that every year.
    Posted by ma6dragon9[/QUOTE]

    I think Salty's hitting will improve over time. What should be prioritized is how he handles the pitching staff.
     

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