With the signing of Kelly Shoppach as an addition to the Red Sox catching crew, long time Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek is likely going to have to relocate if he wants to continue playing in the Majors. Shoppach and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will probably split the duties in 2012 with prospect Ryan Lavarnway getting more seasoning in Pawtucket; meaning any return of Tek would only crowd a good situation.
Of course the Shoppach signing could lead to a trade involving Lavarnway or a deal involving the newly signed addition once the season gets rolling and the kid can prove he’s major league ready. But for now the Red Sox appear to have their catchers and Tek doesn’t appear to be part of the plans.
So how will Josh Beckett react to the new signing?
As the Red Sox continue to prepare for next season, one of the biggest questions that the Shoppach signing is sure to bring out is, how will Josh Beckett respond if and when Jason Varitek doesn’t return next season? You will recall it is Varitek who has been Beckett’s personal catcher for the better part of Beckett’s career in Boston. Last season Tek caught all but two of Beckett’s thirty games and anytime Terry Francona tried to alter the course, Beckett sulked until he got his way. It was clear anytime that Tek wasn’t behind the plate when Beckett was throwing, Josh seemed to be off and wasn’t as effective as he could be. His timing was off, the communication was off and his mood appeared to be off. This of course could also be blamed on the additional weight he was carrying for the second half of the season, but when Varitek wasn’t catching him it was painfully obvious he was upset.
Beckett and Varitek have been the leading culprits in what has become known as the Beer Gate scandal that led to one of the greatest collapses in baseball history. Both players were said to be leaders of this club, especially Varitek, with him being the team captain. After the lack of leadership shown by either player, changes were evidently needed and not re-signing Tek was a good start.
Since the collapse, Beckett is the only pitcher of the bunch that hasn’t addressed the media to set his record straight. Is he hiding from the truth? Likely, but we’ll never know for sure. He seems content down in his southern Texas home and will likely remain that way until Spring Training arrives. It’ll be then that he will not only have to address the media about events that happened several months ago, but also adjust to life without his personal catcher.
The chances that Varitek doesn’t return are pretty good although never say never, especially if you’re a Red Sox fan (2004 anyone). How will Beckett accept this new change that will be forced upon him? Will he pout and stay out of shape as a way to try and screw the Red Sox for banishing his personal catcher? The only guy that he trusts behind the plate to call a good game. I sure hope he doesn’t. Mr. Beckett is already under a great deal of scrutiny and with many fans calling for him to be traded, he better come to camp in tip-top shape willing to accept the new roster additions.
Besides, isn’t this a tad arrogant to demand your own personal catcher? This reminds me of what Roger Clemens did in New York when he demanded that Brian McNamee join the club as his personal trainer. Is Beckett really this pre-madonna type that the Red Sox are going to have to go out of their way to ensure he’s happy? What’s that saying to the other players? A little tough love is in order in my mind.
Beckett has a chance to win back the “ace” of the staff title and can lead this club next year, but only if he wants it. We saw flashes of brilliance last season for the first four months of the season from Beckett. He is that good, when he wants to be.
Josh will have to suck it up and adjust to either Salty or Shoppach should Tek not return. If he doesn’t, he’s not worth a lick to the Red Sox and might as well not unpack his suitcase in February.