Why David Ross Matters More Than You Think

Evan Brunell@evanbrunellFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2008

David Ross, a 31-year-old catcher, was released by the Cincinnati Reds last week and promptly signed a minor-league contract with the Red Sox. He’ll be up in September to serve as the third-string catcher.

Get used to his presence behind the plate; you could be seeing him as the starting catcher for the Red Sox next year. Think that Ross is too bad to be our starting catcher?

Much like Tim, I detest the Player A/B comparisons. Much like Tim, I will now do one.

PLAYER A: .223/.310/.437
PLAYER B: .222/.314/.371

I won’t hold the suspense any longer. Player A is David Ross and his career line. (For posterity, his 2008 line in 134 at-bats is .231/.381/.366.) Player B is Jason Varitek’s 2008 line.

Ross doesn’t look so bad now, does he? Granted, in 311 at-bats last year (the most at-bats he’s received at the major-league level in one year by about 50 at-bats) he hit .203/.271/.399 with 17 homers. The year previous, in 247 AB, he hit .255/.353/.579 with 21 homers.

Dusty Baker’s incompetence is our gain.

Ross would sign for dirt cheap next year, a palatable alternative to to-be 37-year old Jason Varitek and his agent of death, Scott Boras. You just know Boras will wheedle the Detroit Tigers or New York Mets into tossing Varitek a three-year, $30 million commitment.

With Ross’ renowned defensive ability, and a similar offensive profile to Varitek (circa 2008, mind you), it may make it easier for the Sox to pass on Varitek’s price tag this offseason.

And no, Kevin Cash wouldn’t back him up. The honor of being the knuckleball catcher would go to 26-year old Dusty Brown. Brown is hitting .286/.377/.470 for AAA Pawtucket. Catchers often mature later than most players, so 26 years is by no means ancient.

He also calls a great game and could take over as a starter the following year. (That’s probably stretching it, but Brown profiles to be a fantastic backup.) Then there’s Texas and their plethora of catchers—I’d be surprised if Theo doesn’t try to swing a trade in the offseason for one of them.

I have no idea what Scott Boras will ask for Varitek. I have no idea what motivated Theo to sign David Ross. I profess to have no special insight. All I am doing is pointing out that perhaps, just perhaps, it may be smarter to start David Ross next year rather than Jason Varitek, once you factor in the price tags of each player.

Whom would you take?