Saltalamacchia and Ross slated as the starting catchers
The Red Sox went into the 2013 with four catchers on their roster. Now it appears that they only have two. No, no one was traded (despite rampant speculation throughout December and January), but plenty of guys have been moved around as of late.
The Red Sox have recently announced that Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross will be the catchers for 2013. Saltalamacchia (“Salty”) caught a career high 104 games in 2012 and is slated to be the starting catcher this season. While he has not hit for a high average throughout his career, he has shown a great deal of potential when it comes to hitting for power, which gives him the edge going into this spring.
At the age of 35, David Ross’ best baseball years are behind him, but he can still command the field and earn the respect of a pitching staff — the primary reason he was brought into Boston this past winter. Ross caught 54 games in 2012, showing he still has what it takes to get the job done behind the plate. His .991 fielding percentage and ability to throw out runners is also a major plus.
With Ross and Salty taking over the catching job it appears that Mike Napoli will make the switch to playing first base full time. Napoli caught 72 games in 2012 while playing 28 games at first. Asking Napoli to play 162 games at first base is out of the question; he played a career high 70 games at first when with the LA Angels in 2010, but has averaged around 30 games at first per season over his career. With the addition of Lyle Overbay, the Sox have another option should Napoli need rest or be taken out for a defensive replacement.
This brings us to Ryan Lavarnway, the big catcher from Yale who has unlimited potential yet never seems to get a chance to show it. In two years of major league experience, Lavarnway hit an abysmal .172 with a .230 OBP over 63 games. His minor league stats are much better though; in two seasons with Pawtucket he has hit .295 with 26 homeruns over 144 games. He has what it takes to hit, he has the power numbers, all he need is a consistent number of at bats to prove he deserves a permanent spot in Boston.
For now it will be Salty and Ross catching for Boston, but should the aging Ross go on the disabled list or should Salty need some time off expect Lavarnway to be called up. He may not get his chance to catch at the major league level in 2013, but should he stick around with the Sox he will get his opportunity in the next few years.