Re: Thanks Jason Varitek!
posted at 2/27/2012 7:48 PM EST
A few years back I started the infamous "No Manny-No Rings" thread that spiraled out of control for months and months. Shortly afterwards, I started a "No Papi- No Rings" thread and a "No Varitek-No Rings" thread. Those two were less controversial and were hundreds of pages less.
Jason is retiring Thursday. He wanted to continue on, and some including myself, think he could still contribute, but it wasn't meant to be. With Lava and Swihart in the wings, and Shoppach (also great vs LHPs) recently signed, it didn't make any sense to offer VTek a ML contract. "Thanks Jason Varitek!" is a nice title for a thread. All of us Sox fans should feel gratitude. Maybe now the bashing and outright hatred will end. I hope so!
Jason became our FT catcher in 1999 at age 27 (about the same age Salty is now). He hit 20 HRs that first full season with an .813 OPS. Other than his injury in 2001, VTek caught over 125 games every year until 2008. He ended up with 5 seasons over .800 (including 2001's short season) and 11 out of 13 seasons over .720.
There's a common misconception by many posters on this site, led by Tek-hating softy (aka mr. hanky), that a catcher with a .720 OPS is somehow a liability to a team. Here's a look at some 3-4 years spans of VTek's career by OPS:
VTek 8th at .787
VTek 5th at .819
VTek 6th at .795
VTek 21st at .702
Many will remember VTek's loss of arm strength, slower movements behind and in front of the plate, and diminishing offensive skills. Others like the silly clown want to gnaw on about his marital infedelities and defensive short-comings, but most us respect what VTek gave us even as a back-up the last couple years or so. VTek has very steadily gotten the best out of the vast majority of our pitchers as compared to the other team catcher. The CERA debate has been a long one, but the fact is, most who discount it, don't even know what it means or the severely limited usage it has. The only way CERA and related stats should be used is to compare how the same pitchers do with each of the catchers on the same team. Using CERA to compare catchers from different teams is near useless. Using overall CERA to judge one catcher vs another on his own team is near useless as well, since one catcher will catch some pitchers much more than another and skew the data. harness did a lot of research on the data involved with VTek and our other catchers over the year, and the record is astonishing. Almost every single year, VTek got better results from more pitchers....sometimes by huge margins. This past year, it was something like 12 out of the top 15 pitchers by IP (I couldn't find my data that I complied earlier this winter). It's no wonder the team went 42-22 in 2011 under VTek and had a losing record in Salty games. Take away Beckett and VTek still went 22-12. In 2010, we went 18-9 with VTek. 2009: 61-45. 2008: 73-47. Even in his down offensive years, VTek was a winner.
That's how I'll always remeber VTek: a winner.