Re: Salty Tonight
posted at 8/17/2012 3:10 AM EDT
I have already expressed serious reservations about a "Salty/Lavarnway" combo.
IMO, a team is likely to be more stable with a starting catcher and a back-up, roles clearly defined, at least at the start of a season. Pitchers are also likely to prefer this arrangement.
A platoon is acceptable as long as, in this case, it's understood that Salty will catcher the vast majority of games against righties. ( I have no idea what the percentages might be. ) Lavarnway then becomes the de facto backup. IMO, if he is going to develop his promise in the position, he needs to catch a lot more than that -- not 50/50 or 60/40. He is not 21 years old. True, if Ortiz leaves, Lavarnway could be slotted at DH -- a function he might or might not happy to perform.
I also think that people who say that the two -- especially Salty -- should gut it out ( "man up," choose your phrase ) and go head to head for the starting job are being naive about these matters. By the end of this season, Salty will have been the starting catcher for two years. Telling him that he'll be fighting to keep that job is tantamount to saying that he's not filled the role satisfactorily.
( Saying that there's room for improvement is a different matter. He knows that. It can be said of many if not most players. ) What's more, though Lavarnway has certainly shown promise in the minors, he is not, to my knowledge, considered a wunderkind. So telling Salty that he will be directly challenged by a player who MIGHT become special is scarcely the most recommended way to build the confidence that he seems to have developed behind the plate this year. You want your starting catcher to think that he is THE MAN, and to act like it. At least that has been the case on every team I've played for -- and, as far as I can tell, most if not all of the teams I've observed.
Nor do I think, at this point, Salty would be overwhelmed with joy to hear, "The job is yours to lose," as might be said to a rookie. That pitch does not work with vets.
As I've said, it easy from the outside to tell players to "gut it out" and to argue that competition makes everyone better. Those principles may in fact obtain in many situations, but not, I feel, in this one. Each situation is different, if not unique.
There is still six weeks to go in the regular season. The division of catching duties remains to be seen. Performance remains to be seen. Lavarnway may see much more time at DH than behind the plate. And on and on.
Frankly, I think the best solution is for the Sox to make up their mind between the two of them in the offseason, and then try to make a good trade involving the other. Otherwise, I see unnecessary trouble ahead on a team that hardly needs any more trouble.
Let players battle for the SS job and maybe for the RF job, but settle the catching job. And get a new back-up. If Ortiz leaves and Lavarnway is traded, the DH can rotate. Salty can do it on occasion. Ditto if Salty is traded. Lavarnway can do it on occasion.
I suspect that I'm in a minority on this issue ( maybe of one ), but it's how I see it.