The Good: Both men are switch hitters, so it will allow the Red Sox to play matchups on a nightly basis, and put out the roster they think they have the best chance to win with.
Salty would probably get the bulk of his starts against right-handed pitching. Notice the drastic difference between his righty-lefty career splits:
Vs RHP: 512 AB 140 H 15 HR 68 RBI .273/.343/.422
Vs LHP: 301 AB 62 H 8 HR 27 RBI .206/.266/.326
That’s a career difference of 0.173 OPS points between right handed and left handed pitchers, a huge margin for MLB standards.
Varitek would likely get the starts against lefties. Just look at his 2010 splits:
Vs RHP: 85 AB 20 H 4 HR 11 RBI .235/.298/.435
Vs LHP: 27 AB 9 H 3 HR 7 RBI .222/.276/.593
Despite having 58 fewer at bats from the right handed side, Tek had just one fewer home run. This caused his SLG % to skyrocket more than a point and half, while his OPS remained well over .800.
This is in line with Varitek’s career splits; he’s hit HR at just a rate of 28.4 AB against righties, while he’s averaged one every 23.5 AB against lefties. He also has a career 0.830 OPS against left-handed batters.
And if the Sox are truly committed to seeing Saltalamacchia through, there’s no one better in baseball to have as a backup then Jason Varitek. He’s the best game caller in baseball, and is renowned for his studious preparation. He would have nothing but a positive impact on Salty, as he would be able to mentor him on a day-to-day basis.
The Bad: If Salty struggles, the Red Sox are ill equipped to handle the situation. At this point, it’s unlikely that Tek can handle the rigors of an everyday job while still producing or even staying healthy.
And if Tek goes down to injury, thrusting Salty into the full time job too soon could prove harmful.
And if both go down due to injury, poor production, or some combination of the two, well… how about one more year of Kevin Cash?
God, I hope not.
Prognosis: Highly likely
The Red Sox must know something about Salty that we don’t, and they wouldn’t put him into a situation where he’s getting the majority of the starts without thinking that he can’t handle it (we hope).
Early indications make it look like Salty will have the first chance at the majority share of the job.
And, it would allow the captain to end his career in Boston, something that Varitek, the ownership, and the fans would all love to see.