"Wars have been won quicker than the Red Sox are dealing with the Jason Varitek situation." -- Bill Reynolds, Providence Journal
Days pass, and I'm starting to wonder: will word ever come about Varitek?
When pitchers and catchers report, will Boston still sport a roster all brimming with pitchers but minus a single strong catcher? Will some of the best pitchers in all of baseball enter spring training teamed with a platoon of backups and prospects, and the Captain still lost out in Baseball Limbo? At this point, I'd hardly be surprised.
It's fully possible that there are factors behind the scenes we don't know about, and that, really, what looks like as massive a show of disrespect as any team ever gave its long-time leader, isn't that at all. It might not be that way.
It's just, it sure looks that way....
So, we keep on waiting, day after day, checking Hot Stove reports for news, scanning the headlines, and still waiting.
And, wondering: how can something so bloody obvious prove so hard to get done?
Boston needs a starting catcher. There's exactly one option out there prepared for the job. The others, potentially available by trade, are uniformly inexperienced, defensively weak, and offensively shaky or untested, better suited to a backup role in '09. That best option, the one player ready to come in as starter, is also the only one whose cost is just money -- something Boston has coming out its ears -- rather than one or more promising young pitchers they'd later regret losing.
And that one best option isn't some unknown factor; he's the team's own captain, a guy who's played in Boston his whole major league career, who led the team to it's first two World Series wins in nine decades, and best of all, who wants to come back to Boston. He belongs in Boston.
What about this is difficult? Boston needs 'Tek, and 'Tek needs Boston. But still we wait, and spring training is only weeks away.
I'm not going back into all the statistical arguments for re-signing Jason Varitek here. I've been there before, as have plenty of others. It's all been covered. But I do want to post a pair of quotations I found on the unofficial 'Tek fan site, jason-varitek.com, quotes which to me, sum up the whole argument for 'Tek's return better than a full length article ever could.
First, from the baseball blog UmpBump:
"Tek plays hurt all the time — probably hurts more than J.D. Drew ever does, but is made of pig iron, chewing tobacco, and Clint Eastwood’s spit, so he never says anything — but with a young, talented catcher on the roster, he wouldn’t have to keep sucking it up all the time."
And from an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (November 2, 2007), Manager Terry Francona talking about Varitek after the 2007 World Series:
"When we were on the field after the [clinching] game the other night, he put his head on my shoulder and cried like a baby. He had willed everybody to be so good. I think that's why I'm so calm. I know he's in charge. It's his team."
Read that last bit again, would you? I know fans who claim 'intangibles' really don't matter, but it beats me how they keep up with the games, with their ears and eyes as tightly shut as that.
Just one more thought, from my own writing, to close things out. This is from "The Sox Optimist's Catalog," a list I put together last October with ten reasons I had (and still have) confidence in my team. Every last one of them holds true, and this one especially:
"The Sox didn’t have to put that “C” on Tek’s chest to prove he’s captain. This isn’t hockey. But you watch Tek play, decked out in the full body armor, blocking the plate, taking head-on collisions as needed, and just generally being the dirt dog he is, and maybe hockey isn't so far off. Granted, the Captain is usually pretty soft-spoken in interviews. Why shouldn’t he be? He knows he can break you. He knows you know it too, and if you don’t believe me just try messing with his pitching staff."
Boston, bring the Captain back already: I'm ready for that '09 World Series title.