[Previously, we had a joke here about Detroit (used to show the Red Sox' inability to sign free agents). It obviously did not sit well with everyone and for that, we apologize. As Boston fans, we certainly the know what it's like to be on the receiving end of repetitive and/or tiresome schtick just for the sake of a joke, and it's no fun. Hopefully now we can all get back to the sports.]
Either Theo and friends fell asleep on this one or they didn't consider Victor Martinez to be worth the commitment. Unfortunately, he is - er, was.
After pitching coach John Farrell left, Martinez was the guy (alongside Jason Varitek, of course) who knew the pitching staff best. He could hit from either side of the plate and had a knack for producing in key situations, even if he couldn't throw a runner out trying to steal second, third and home all at the same time.
Fortunately, the Red Sox have plenty (!) of options at catcher now. They include, in no particular order:Stick Stickley,Jack Bauer (oh, wait, nevermind), Rick Sanchez, The Kool-Aid Guy, John Cena (what do you mean, he's not "really" fired?), and of course ... Jarred Saltalamacchia (or, as he's known in Texas, noodle-arm).
The problem for Boston, however, is no longer finding a catcher. It's deciding if this is going to be the real bridge year. Because if it is, they'd do well to let Adrian Beltre walk, push Salty and Luis Exposito (with Varitek along to coach them), call up Anthony Rizzo and pass on Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford so that they can stockpile funds for the Adrian Gonzalez sweepstakes in 2011.
Without Beltre and/or Crawford/Werth, the Red Sox opening day lineup looks like this:
- Ryan Kalish - 8
- Dustin Pedroia - 4
- David Ortiz - DH
- Kevin Youkilis - 5
- J. D. Drew - 9
- Jed Lowrie - 6
- Anthony Rizzo - 7
- Jarred Saltalamachia -2
- Jacoby Ellsbury - 9
Could they win with that in what's looking like a weakened AL East (see: no Tampa)? Potentially. But Toronto and Baltimore are poised for improved years and the Yankees will always be the Yankees.
Will that lineup change on days when Varitek (now a virtual lock to be re-signed) plays? And would it change drastically with Crawford and Beltre plugged in? Sure. And who wouldn't like this a little more:
- Crawford 7
- Pedroia 4
- Ortiz 3
- Youkilis DH
- Lowrie 6
- Beltre 5
- Varitek 2
- Drew 9
- Ellsbury 8
But as the Martinez saga has proven, nobody's a sure thing at this point. What is becoming more and more certain is the uncertainty of Marco Scutaro's future in a Sox uni, especially if Boston can deal him for bullpen help, which they need more than anything else.
Speaking of pitching, isn't that Cliff Lee guy available? What once were whispers about the possibility of Lee in the Fens next summer are now growing, in part because the Sox have more money to spend and in part because they need to make a big move to appease the fan base at this point - and Crawford, Werth or Beltre won't be considered that big move.
Personally, I wish Victor the best in Detroit. It's a good franchise with a strong fan base, despite the economic decline the city has seen. He's a great clubhouse guy, an excellent leader and a wonderful ambassador for the game, especially with his strong Latin roots. Of all the guys I didn't want to see the Sox let go, he was the highest on the list.
But now he's gone. And - only for now, Sox fans should hope - the bridge to nowhere delves onward.