One of the few spots on the Boston Red Sox roster that really isn’t up for a debate this spring is Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s catcher role. This spring, Salty signed a one-year, $4.5 million dollar deal, avoiding arbitration. A consistent, although not spectacular, offensive catcher, his true value to the Red Sox is his behind the plate talents and that is where Jason Varitek will be invaluable.
Signed as a Special Assistant to the General Manager last September, Varitek rejoins the Red Sox as one of the most liked and respected people in the organization. His work ethic, grit and determination, as well as his knowledge of how to handle and manage pitching staffs, will be something that Saltalamacchia can only benefit from.
Saltalamacchia has had basically two seasons as the Red Sox’ number one catcher, essentially replacing Varitek as his career wound down. Now that Varitek’s sole purpose is that of a coach/adviser, he can focus more on helping Saltalamacchia get to the next level.
Starting pitching was a issue in 2012, hampered by injuries, change and overall ineffectiveness–not that any of that has ever been directed at Saltalamacchia. In fact, in the last two seasons, the Red Sox have had three pitching coaches and two managers, which is not exactly stable for your pitching staff, which in itself lacks stability. Enter Saltalamacchia and now Varitek.
The two of them cannot control the health of the pitchers. What they can bring to the staff is consistency and leadership. Varitek was at his best as a leader, a coach and even a cheering section for his pitchers. Saltalamacchia has shown he has the ability to bring that to the Red Sox as well.
With a mentor like Vartitek on the bench, Saltalamacchia needs to take the next step in his development and become like his predecessor was: the Red Sox team leader.