Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Deja Vu: A return to roots for a former Sox catcher

Remember that time we traded a homegrown catcher to the Indians for Coco Crisp?  And then he went to Tampa Bay for a player to be named later (who ended up being Mitch Talbot)?  Can anyone name that player?

If you said "Kelly Shoppach," you get a cookie! [But not really - I can't send cookies through the internet.]  When we originally sent Shoppach to Cleveland, he was a pretty promising young catcher, who had the potential and the tools to be a qualified offensive and defensive player, though he has done some back-sliding since.

So what does his return mean for the Red Sox? Well, for one, it most likely means that we have seen the last of Jason Varitek's playing days, at least in Boston.  This should come as no surprise, since Ben Cherington has been hinting that he's reluctant to bring back Tek (or Wake, for that matter) for a while now.  In addition, it means that the Red Sox have a viable backup catcher who has spent significant time in the big leagues.  Ryan Lavarnway held his own last fall (17 games, .231 BA, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs), but he could certainly use some more seasoning in the minors.

Over at Boston.com's Extra Bases Blog, Pete Abraham mentions the possibility of using Lavarnway as trade bait now that the Sox have a viable alternative, but cautions that possibility is unlikely.  The most prudent course of action would be to keep Lavarnway around and continue his development, in case the Shoppach experience leaves something to be desired.  It also bears mentioning that Shoppach is no longer a young prospect, as he'll turn 32 at the beginning of next season, so keeping Lavarnway is insurance for aging, as well.

This isn't a huge move for the Sox, and it isn't a great deal of time or commitment, either, as the deal is a single year at $1.35 million.  It should be interesting to have a new face behind the plate.

Last but not least, three useless trivia facts about Kelly Shoppach:
  • He drove in the first run at the new Yankee Stadium (April 16, 2009)
  • On July 30, 2008, Shoppach had five extra-base hits in one game, against the Tigers (three doubles and two homers)
  • For all you Tek fans, Shoppach has caught a no-hitter himself - calling Matt Garza's no-no on July 26, 2010

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