Jason Varitek may be the heart and soul of the Red Sox, but he cannot be our starting catcher anymore. I'm sorry, but he has been a liability at the plate (.212 average, DOWN from a miserable .220 last year), and even behind it.
That's right, 'Tek is no longer a great defensive catcher. Two passed balls (the wild pitch in the second game should have been blocked) in two consecutive games on third strikes and what should have been third outs in the 7th inning against the Angels, our likely ALDS opponent. In one game we recovered and won due to some miraculously bad umpiring, and the other we lost. Not to mention, he canNOT throw out a runner on the base paths - I still seethe at Carl Crawford's SIX stolen bags in a game earlier in the season. Varitek has only thrown out 15 runners all year against 100 stolen bases allowed, making his caught stealing percentage a miserable 13%.
Sure, Victor Martinez isn't much better at throwing out base stealers - 14% - but since joining the Sox he's hitting .330 with power and a knack for driving in runs in the clutch. Varitek is a strikeout, pop-up or double play waiting to happen.
I hate saying this about Jason Varitek, but I can't take it anymore. Youk at first, Lowell at third and Martinez behind the dish should be the choice for Terry Francona. Are Josh Beckett and Jon Lester going to give up more runs without Varitek to throw to than what they can get back in run support without Varitek in the lineup? I know Varitek is amazing with our pitchers, but I think we need to keep the captain on the bench. He's only getting worse (.239 before the All Star break, .157 after), and we can't afford to keep him in the lineup.
P.S., A special thank you to "The Baseball Show" on Comcast Sportsnet New England for having me on to pimp my blog. I called in from Salt Lake City at 6:15 AM local time and probably fell asleep in the middle of my pitch.