Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just Say "No" to Varitek

Between Lynn Henning suggesting him Tuesday morning and Ken Rosenthal reporting this morning that Scott Boras is trying to sell him to the Tigers, I wanted to look at Jason Varitek and why this would be a bad deal for the Tigers.

First and foremost, his production has declined in recent years. Here are his BA/OBP/SLG splits since 2005.

2005: .281/.366/.489 (529 PA)
2006: .238/.325/.400 (416 PA)
2007: .255/.361/.421 (518 PA)
2008: .220/.313/.359 (483 PA)

For the time being, I am willing to throw out his 2006 season because he was suffering from a bad knee that year, and he has had surgery to correct that. There isn't, however, anything to justify the poor season he had in 2008 aside from the fact that he was 36 years old during the season. It seems likely that he has lost his skills, and he's not worthy of a starting job, especially when he is only throwing out 22% of baserunners.

Since we have established that Varitek is likely in the decline phase of his career, some would still suggest that coming in and platooning with Dusty Ryan be okay. I'm just curious how this particular platoon would work. Somebody's got to face right-handed pitchers. Via minorleaguesplits.com, lets take a look at Dusty Ryan's career R/L splits.

Vs. L: .274/.363/.485
Vs. R: .218/.301/.347

It would seem to me that if he was going to have a platoon partner, that guy should be able to produce against right-handed pitching, as Ryan seems to have the southpaws covered. What about Varitek?

vs. L (2008): .284/.378/.484
vs. R (2008): .201/.293/.323

Career:
vs. L: .284/.362/.468
vs. R: .254/.340/.427

Again, better against lefties, and downright putrid in 2008 against right-handed pitchers. A platoon with Varitek and Ryan would not work. Throw in the money and the draft pick the Tigers would have to give up for Varitek if signed before the arbitration deadline, and there really is no choice but to say no way.

3 comments:

James said...

This is a very VIABLE point when arguing his offensive value. What your article fails to consider fully is the defensive value he brings. He brings An innate ability to call a game for his pitchers. The ability to lower the detroit STAFF ERA is astronomical. He wears a C on his uniform...his leadership is unquestionable...

There is also so much value in his ability to teach. The Redsox should offer him arb, and trade for a young catcher...let him mentor.

I believe his intangible value outweighs his offensive deficiency makes him an above average player at the position...possibly good for 3-4 wins more than a replacement level player...

Bryce said...

First Varitek is going to want atleast 3 years on his contract at around 10 million a year. Theres no way he's worth that value. Yes he can call a great game and he is a great teacher. However he has a below average glove and an even worse arm. His offensive last year speaks for itself. So basically you'd be paying 10 million a year for calling a great game. Another thing is to, Varitek won't sign a deal if he thinks he will be platooning.

Steroblo said...

I'd just like to see proof that he would even come close to lowering the staff ERA? Boston has only had a top-10 ERA three times in the last seven years. Funny enough, they've also arguably had the best pitching talent in baseball for that same period of time.

Prove that he has an "innate ability to call a game for his pitchers". These arguments when talking about catchers are complete BS.

It's not worth throwing away 10+ for an aging catcher coming off of his worst season. What is he going to do that Pudge (greatest catcher of all time) wasn't able to do in his tenure here in Detroit?

I'd go for a guy like Josh Bard, who's talented and will be cheap coming off a couple injury-filled seasons.