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The Catcher Dilemna

Obviously, the biggest issue this off season is what to do about catcher with Varitek aging, not hitting, and Borasing his way to the biggest contract available. Here is a part of the equation that has been raised much: the greatest roadblock to the advancement of any young catcher in the Sox system is Tim Wakefield.

First, let's dispense with the pleasantries. Wake is a great pitcher and should join Pesky as the second non-Hall of Famer to have his number retired in Fenway.

Yet, as vividly and painfully displayed by the Josh Bard experiment, Wake can singleknuckledly derail an otherwise-promising Sox catching prospect when said prospect is forced into duty as Wake's personal catcher.

The Catch 22 for the Sox is that no catcher in the system is ready to take over for 'Tek because of a moderate talent pool and not enough high level - let alone major league - experience. So the Sox keep playing 'Tek and only try young guys as the back up (i.e. Wake's catcher). They then fail in part because they are focused on not embarrassing themselves catching the wobbler.

Here is an option that no one seems to be raising: Varitek should become Wake's catcher and split the catching of the other four, conventional starters with a young catcher like Kottaras or Mark Wagner, or someone they could trade for like Saltalamacchia. For example, let 'Tek catch Wake, Lester and Bowden. Let Kottaras catch Becket and Dice-K.

This would avoid having a young catcher distracted and discouraged by the Wake challenge, allow us to keep Wake and 'Tek, let 'Tek coach a young catcher and the young pitchers, let us start 'Tek more against lefties than righties (Kottaras is a lefty with pop), and stop the never-ending cycle of the Sox needing a Kevin Cash on the roster. Cash has been great, but he can't hit and is by no means the future behind the plate.

Here are some of the problems with this, and my answers:
  • 'Tek has shown he can't catch Wake. I don't believe for a second that if 'Tek went into camp planning to catch Wake, that he couldn't do what Cash and Miribelli (and Hatteburg and Creighton Gubanich and some guy named Varitek...) have done for 14 years.
  • None of the prospects are good enough. Then why do we pay them? Honestly, we're way too wedded to the idea that 'Tek is the only guy who can call a game and that we need a Wake specialist.
  • 'Tek won't come back to platoon and take on Wake. At 35, for $8 million for two years maybe, by learning from Damon that your viability as a post-playing career spokesperson in Boston depends on either not leaving or leaving on good terms, 'Tek should consider this.


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