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The Red Sox Catching Situation

Josh Bard, Jason Varitek and George Kottaras

ProBaseball-fans.com Boston Red Sox Correspondent Elizabeth Dreeson brings us her latest update on Red Sox Nation.


Earlier this week the Red Sox acquired Josh Bard from the San Diego Padres. The contract is worth $1.7 million for one year with performance incentives. Bard had a previous stint with the Red Sox in 2006, when he came over from the Indians along with Coco Crisp. During Spring Training of 2006, Theo Epstein and Terry Francona saw him fit to catch veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. However, within his first month, he had ten passed balls. He was then traded to the San Diego Padres after only seven games for Doug Mirabelli who caught Wakefield from 2001-2005 before being traded, in 2006 and 2007. Red Sox fans may remember Mirabelli being rushed to Fenway Park in an SUV to play in that game. He changed into his uniform immediately after arriving in Logan Airport and rushed to play. After the trade, Epstein speculated that it was a “short-sighted” mistake. Bard finished 2006 batting .335 and batted .285 in 2007. In 2008, Bard’s season was plagued with injuries, and his average plummeted to a mere .202. There has been speculation as to what happened to Bard in between Spring Training and the regular season of 2006. According to Bard, he “outthought”. People had tried to change his mechanics, which messed him up in the long run. Bard said that he has no hard feelings towards the Red Sox, and takes the whole situation as a “life lesson”. He says that he is prepared to catch try catching Wakefield again. It seems like the Red Sox had a few problems with players “outthinking” themselves this past year, specifically pitchers. Clay Buchholz pitched a no hitter in 2007 against the Baltimore Orioles and everyone expected him to be great; however, he fell to a 2-9 record and was sent to Double AA Portland. When he was rehabilitating from a broken fingernail in Triple AAA Pawtucket, his mechanics were changed a bit so when he returned, it was hard for him to adjust. Another pitcher who “outthought” himself was Jon Lester in Game 3 off the 2008 ALCS. He pitched phenomenally in the ALDS and Game 1, and everyone had chalked up a win for whatever games that Lester would pitch. It seemed like those expectations caused him to think more towards the future rather than focusing on the present.

Boston Red Sox merchandise It seems as if the Red Sox are still trying to retain Jason Varitek, and no other teams have made him an offer. However, if Varitek were to be retained, it would be with the understanding that he would not be playing as much in previous years. Josh Bard will probably be the one catching Wakefield, but he will also catch the other pitchers as well. If Varitek were unable to be retained, Bard would probably be the starting catcher, and the Red Sox would look for someone in their farm system like George Kottaras or Dusty Brown, or maybe look back into Taylor Teagarden of the Texas Rangers. Ideally, the type of catcher the Red Sox would want to back up Bard (and potentially Varitek) would be someone like Jarrod Saltalamacchia but the Rangers were asking for Clay Buchholz, who the Red Sox are unwilling to give up.


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The Red Sox also acquired Type-B free agent Brad Penny from the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a one-year five million dollar contract with other incentives depending upon his performance. He will probably fight for a number four or five spot in the rotation along with Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, and Michael Bowden. This is a pretty low risk deal since it’s only a one-year contract. Brad Penny is statistically better throughout his career than AJ Burnett (who was recently signed by the Yankees) not counting Penny’s 2008 season. Penny has a better career record (94-75 as oppose to 87-76) and almost one hundred more innings than AJ Burnett. Penny put up two consecutive 16 win seasons with the Dodgers but fell to a 6-9 record in 2008. This deal is similar to the one the Red Sox gave Bartolo Colon last year; however, they hope that he will not be as much of a disappointment. This signing of Brad Penny also means that the Red Sox will probably not go after free agent Derek Lowe. Lowe was originally not in their price range, but there is still a slim possibility that he might return to Boston. As of right now, it is most likely that Derek Lowe will be going to the Mets.

It was reported that former Red Sox star and future hall of famer Manny Ramirez was offered a four-year contract by the San Francisco Giants. Earlier in the “Hot Stove” season, the Dodgers retracted their two year $45 million dollar offer. If Manny is looking for anything-long term like he said, his best bet is definitely this one since other teams are concerned with his attitude issues.


By Elizabeth Dreeson
ProBaseball-fans.com Red Sox Correspondent

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