2004 Player Reviews: C

2004 Player Reviews: C
Sandy Martinez is a very good defensive catcher but doesn’t really do so great at hitting, which makes him a perennial AAA-player with September callups. This year was no different as Martinez played for the Indians’ AAA affiliate before being acquired by the Red Sox for the stretch drive to provide another catcher behind the plate. He went hitless in four games and six at-bats, but those four games certainly did help take wear and tear off Varitek and Mirabelli in meaningless games, so we have Sandy Martinez to thank for that.
Andy Dominique is the opposite of Martinez – a minor league thumper who isn’t too well-endowed with the glove. Sandy Dominique would make a fine catcher but alas, human combination is not yet approved by the FDA. Shame, we could have had Pokey Bellhorn. Domonique saw seven games and 11 AB for the Sox, hitting .167 after a .267/.360/.442 (15 HR) for Pawtucket. He is currently a minor league free agent.
Doug Mirabelli agreed to a two-year deal the other day. I really like this move as it allows AAA catcher Kelly Shoppach to stay in AAA (assuming Jason Varitek resigns) for another two years, to cut down on his strikeouts and raise his average. Shoppach to me smacks of another Mirabelli – great defensive catcher and pitch-caller, and also hits for power, but with a low average. Mirabelli will earn more money if he is a starter. Mirabelli has hit .259 with 31 HR and 101 RBI in 615 AB during his 3.5 seasons with the Red Sox. That’s a full year for most players, that’s very nice statistics for Mirabelli. He caught Tim Wakefield for most of the year, and I think most of the critics who thought Varitek should catch Wakefield were silenced when we saw the difficulty that Varitek had with Wakefield in the playoffs. I was one of those critics, but I still believe (as I have stated here before) Mirabelli and Varitek should split Wakefield duties, for the experience of the knuckler for Varitek. However after witnessing that incident in the ALCS, I am more appreciative of why they don’t have Varitek catch Mirabelli. Has to give Varitek quite a breather not to do that. Besides, we’re not losing much sending Mirabelli up there. He usually was a no-hit catcher but since coming to the Red Sox, his batting has gotten better – no doubt because of the Green Monster. It seems everytime he hits a HR in Fenway, it’s over the Monster. Mirabelli is an important part of the Red Sox, and I am very happy he’s around for two more years. The 34-year old is turning out to be one of the great deals in the Duquette regime. The Red Sox acquired Mirabelli from the Texas Rangers for Justin Duscherer (who is now with the Athletics and just this year got a bullpen relief slot) the day Jason Varitek underwent surgery in 2001.
Jason Varitek is a free agent this year, and will most likely resign with the Red Sox, because there aren’t really any other suitors out there. It’s a shame to see Varitek so enamored with money, but I guess not everyone cares about the town they play in. Varitek priced himself out of the Twins’ market when he was drafted as a college junior. He was drafted again by the Mariners after his senior year in college, but lost millions because he went back into the draft. If the Red Sox hold off, his demands will lessen, as they already have. Boras has reportedly dropped his five-year, $55-million demand and is now asking for 4/44, but I think the Red Sox should hold fast and stay with either 4 years/36 million as is being offered, or offer 3 years/33 million with an option for a fourth year at 11 million, the option vesting if he plays in an average of 130 games over the three-year span. Varitek came close to hitting .300 this past year, ending up at .296/.390/482 and solidified himself as the image of the Red Sox. He is greatly respected for his game preparation and can really call a game. He does quite well with the stick and is a born leader in the clubhouse, not afraid to shove his mitt in someone’s face, as a certain Yankee can attest to. It’s worth it to overpay (a little) to get Varitek back in a Red Sox uniform, because he means so much to the Red Sox and was unquestionably a big piece of the puzzle that netted the Red Sox a World Championship. The 32-year old is finally mentioned among the game’s greatest catchers and followed up his strong 2003 season with another one, proving his broken elbow in 2001 is a thing of the past.
Sandy Alomar and Andy Dominique, thanks for being part of such a great season.
Doug Mirabelli, thanks for being the best backup catcher in the game and among the fan favorites.
Jason Varitek … thanks for everything. May you have many more World Series rings with the “B” inscripted on the ring.

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