Friday, September 25, 2009

Should Varitek Sit During Playoffs?

A thought sparked by Tim's Tweet.

Assuming that Mike Lowell is healthy you have to sit Varitek and have Martinez behind the dish...right?

Now I know Lowell isn't hitting all that well, but having Varitek at the bottom of the order is nearly like a NL team hitting the pitcher.


Jim Storer said...

Ummm... yes.

'Tek was awful last night. Waving at pitches in the dirt and hitting infield popups during key situations. He's in a slump and now is not the time to "let him work himself out of it."

In the "awkward situation dept" Heidi Watney was asked last night to report on whether Francona was going to sit 'Tek over the weekend in favor of Martinez... wonder if that makes for some difficult dinner time conversations.

Tim Walker said...

Context, based on some rapid-fire (read: possibly inaccurate) thumbnail math on Tek's recent numbers . . .

August-September stats for Varitek:

AB = 89
H = 11
BB = 10
TB = 17 (!)

BA = .124
OBP = .212
SLG = .191

Against the likes of the A.L. division winners, that's not even a judgment call -- Varitek MUST sit, not just in favor of Lowell, but of Kotchman as well.


KFFBOS said...

Tim, I think you are right, it is just a matter of how Tito makes it happen.

Jim, are they officially together? We miss that scuttlebutt down here.

Aaron_Strout said...

Wait, are Watney and Tek together? Or Watney and Francona. I can see the first matchup but not the second so I assume it's the former.

As to sitting Tek, the only tough part is the comfort level of the pitchers. While is killing the Sox offensively, you can't neglect the importance of his game calling prowess. Here's a variation on Kyle's theme.

Start Tek and bat him in the 9th spot. Because most of the starters so 6-7 innings, Tek would get 2 ABs max (unless the Sox are scoring mucho runs at which point Tek's lack of a bat is a moot point). Then you pinch hit for Tek on the 6th or 7th and bring Martinez in to catch the relievers.

Jim Storer said...

It's long been rumored that Watney and 'Tek are an item. We've got to get you guys down in Texas hooked up to the interwebs...

Aaron - I don't like giving up a single at bat in the playoffs and that's essentially what you're doing with 'Tek in there (thanks Tim for the quick #s). If he's so good at calling a game can't he just call it from the bench and signal it into Martinez?

[soapbox]I think we need to get past the "the pitchers are comfortable with 'Tek - we need him in there" argument and start looking at Martinez as the gold glove (and bat) catcher of the future that he is... [/soapbox]

KFFBOS said...

By the way, the Tito and Watney coupling has me laughing.

All of this reminds me of the arguments around keeping Tony Pena in the lineup back in the day.

Aaron_Strout said...

Jim - trust me, I feel the same way. I've just heard a number of times what a difference maker 'Tek is behind the plate. But with that said, I'm willing to roll the dice. But that's me... Mr. Vegas.

BTW, apropos of nothing... So Friday, it looked like our best shot to beat the Yanks (Lester v. Chamberlain). Instead, we got beat like rented mules. Yesterday looked like we had a 50/50 chance of losing (DiceK v. Sabathia) and we held serve up until the very end. Today, is the reverse lock game. Byrd v. Pettite appears to be a "why even bother play the game" situation. So you can almost guarantee that the Sox win 5-3. Fingers crossed...

Derek Peplau said...

The reason we're even discussing this is because of the whole "intangibles" factor which Varitek (and players would argue catchers in general) can bring to the table. It falls under the category of Things Fans Don't Understand Because They're Not In The Clubhouse (were you to ask a player).

To wit: Schilling called into WEEI the other day when this subject was being discussed. He said that Varitek absolutely should be playing in the postseason, and that he has told his catchers in the past (paraphrasing), "I'd love for you to go 4 for 4 with 4 homeruns, but at the end of the day, I don't care if you get a single hit because I know you're going to help me call a good game and you'll make up for your lack of offense with helping on the defensive side of things."

Moreover, you have another non-quantifiable factor which is the Comfort Level of Your Pitchers. There's already controversy over starting Lester over Beckett in Game 1 of the ALDS for fear that it'll put Beckett off his game because he "expects to start that game" or "it'll put his nose out of joint because he sees himself as the ace" even though the stats (and the ability to pitch again in game 4 if necessary if down 2-1) favor Lester.

The players insist that these intangibles matter. I do think many players performances are enhanced or negatively affected depending on 'where their head's at' (best current example being Buccholz). It may matter, but I have a hard time accepting that it outweighs the stats which suggest very strongly that Varitek should not start a single game.

Finally, you factor in a manager who does believe in these intangibles and is very sensitive to the feelings of his players (viz his insistence on starting Crisp over Ellsbury in the first few games of the ALCS in 2007). Tito has certainly laid the groundwork for a Beckett/Martinez battery in the playoffs, but it wouldn't shock me if Tek gets the nod.