Boston Red Sox Catchers Put on Notice by the David Ross Signing

Jonathan Cullen@@jcullen71Senior Writer INovember 10, 2012

Jarrod Saltalamacchia might have played his last game for the Sox
Jarrod Saltalamacchia might have played his last game for the SoxElsa/Getty Images

It is very telling that the first free-agent signing for the Boston Red Sox this offseason is a catcher.

The surprise signing of David Ross, detailed here in this report by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, basically puts the catching tandem of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway on notice.

Rosenthal quotes an anonymous source in the article saying that Ross will be "more than a backup but not a starter."

More than a backup but not a starter sounds like 60 to 80 games to me. That also sounds like that would give Mike Napoli the ability to catch part time, play first base part time and also occasionally be designated hitter on David Ortiz's days off.

Neither catcher should feel very comfortable in their standing with the team right now.

Maybe this tweet by Jon Heyman from CBS Sports about the Red Sox talking to Russell Martin's agent and this tweet by the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo stating that the Red Sox will be a likely suitor for Napoli means the Sox are going to completely revamp their catching.

This could mean the Red Sox hold their catchers far more responsible for the poor results from the pitching staff the past couple of years than they have let on.

Now, both of the incumbent catchers could be traded to fill other needs. This certainly doesn't sound like a vote of confidence.

The Red Sox have a former pitcher, John Farrell, as the manager. Farrell is going to value the defensive side of the position, as well as the ability to call a good game, more than years past.

Farrell and Ross would have crossed paths briefly during the 2008 Red Sox season. Farrell might have been impressed with what he saw in his limited time with Ross.

Maybe having the ability to watch the Red Sox pitching staff from afar the past couple of seasons in Toronto has allowed Farrell to notice things that have changed with how Boston pitchers and catchers operate and prepare.

Jon Lester and Felix Doubront are noticeably demonstrative every time a call goes against them on the mound. Having a veteran backstop who can go out to the mound and tell both lefties to knock it off might be exactly what the staff needs.

Since Jason Varitek has retired, Lester has regressed as a pitcher.

It has been a couple of weeks since Farrell has become manager. Maybe in his conversations with the pitchers on the team, Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington came to the realization that the pitching staff didn't have any confidence in the catching tandem of Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway.

Both Saltalamacchia and Lavarnway struggled in 2012. Saltalamacchia's .222/.288/.454 slash line with 139 strikeouts really wasn't salvaged by his 25 home runs. Lavarnway simply didn't hit in his extended audition at the major league level last year, posting poor numbers .157/.211/.248 across the board in 46 games.

But the biggest problem is the Red Sox had the fourth-worst ERA in the league last season at 4.70.

For a former pitcher and pitching coach like Farrell, it might be as simple as that.


Statistics provided by Baseball Reference and MLB websites.