It’s a touchy subject in Boston to be sure. On this most optimistic of days, the Red Sox’ home opener, the captain of the team, catcher Jason Varitek, looks to be nearing his end. And so the question hangs in the air, like a solitary rain cloud on an otherwise sunny day: What’s to be done about Tek?

Jason VaritekLast season, Tek hit .238 with 12 HR in about 30 fewer games than usual, due to injuries. So far this season he’s hitting .125. Of course, it’s early, but the Red Sox captain didn’t exactly light it up in spring training, either. I saw him in person in a game against the Devil Rays. He looked over-matched.

The situation with Varitek gets even stickier because moving him to a reserve roll would mean giving more playing time to backup Doug Mirabelli, who isn’t exactly the second coming of Babe Ruth. Last season Mirabelli hit .193 in 59 games for Boston. The Sox are stuck with Mirabelli on their roster, despite his offensive ineffectiveness, because he’s the only guy in the organization, maybe the only guy on earth, who can catch knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. So as long as Wakefield is around, Mirabelli will be, too.

Which brings us back to Tek, and what to do with him. The Sox have a promising prospect in George Kottaras, who can flat out hit but is still learning the position. Lately, though, folks in the Sox organization have been raving about the progress Kottaras has made behind the plate. You get the feeling this would be a great time to bring Kottaras up to the show, to let him back up Varitek and let him learn from the team captain how to handle an MLB staff. Except then the Sox would either have to cut Mirabelli or let the new guy try and catch Wakefield, which would be more than a little cruel.

It’s a dilly of a pickle, indeed. It’s a problem that Varitek could solve himself, should he rediscover his hitting stroke. But should he continue to struggle with the bat, the Sox will have some tough decisions to make.

UPDATE: As I type this, Varitek is 3 for 3 in today’s game versus Seattle. I want to go on record saying this absolutely doesn’t mean that he’s rediscovered his stroke. It’s not bad news, of course. And Varitek should be happy about his good day. But he got his three hits off of Jeff Weaver and the Mariners’ bullpen. Hitting against Weaver shouldn’t even count towards a player’s stats. The only thing easier than getting a base hit off of Weaver is hitting a homer off of Eric Milton. I was walking across the street the other day and tripped on the curb and accidentally hit a homer off of Milton. I don’t know how it happened, but it did.

4 Responses to “What to do about Tek?”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    Coley Ward just looooves writing about the Red Sox. He just looooves writing about their hefty payroll. And he just looooves writing about how Jason Varitek is either a) on steroids b) overpaid or c) getting old.

    And then the Captain ends up going 3 for 4 with two RBI. Lots of hitters have slow starts, dude. The Sox *just* got back to the confines. Save your Varitek-is-old-and-lame-and-washed-up post if his bat is still cold in, say, May.

  2. Pony Starks says:

    This is a fair commentary on Tek’s hitting and/or lack there of. Call me old school, but I don’t think the catcher needs to hit for a team to be successful. Sure, it helps, but it’s a defensive and leadership position. I’d rather have Tek back there batting 240 and anchoring the staff and the general direction of the team than somebody hitting 300. Not everybody needs to hit. (This is basically my exact same theory on Manny – not everyone needs to field.)

  3. Pony: agreed. At this point, ‘Tek isn’t there to hit (or at least not as much as he used to, seventh position in the batting order not withstanding), he’s there to call the game. Kottaras is his own special problem, because if he is hitting so well, calling him up as the third option would just cool his bat off. I just looked at his stats for this year; I wouldn’t say 3 hits in seventeen ABs is exactly tearing the cover off the bal…

  4. After tonight’s travesty, perhaps it’s time to let Kottaras take over, keep Mirabelli to catch Wake and send Varitek to the glue factory.

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