Swihart sad

Read Sox: The Catching Conundrum, E-Rod’s Left Knee and Minding the Gap

Welcome back to Read Sox. This week, we take a look at what the Red Sox have at catcher, examining whether or not there really is a debate about who should be the starter and what to make of the other two options. Then we remain totally calm about Eduardo Rodriguez’s left knee and trust that the Red Sox medical team learned their lesson about underestimating a knee injury. Finally, we take a look at why in the world the Red Sox and Yankees would play in London. 

Going deep

As we start to turn our eye toward spring training (only a month before the week before the last week before pitchers and catchers report!), the Red Sox have a fascinating situation behind the plate. They have three catchers, each of whom is generally considered to have – and has shown, in briefs stints – enough talent to be a major league catcher. Teams are out here giving Jesus Montero more chances, but the Sox can’t decide what order they want to have their three backstops listed on a depth chart. It’s clear that they view the catching position as one that can be filled internally; as Nick Piecoro writes, Red Sox front office alum and new Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen mentioned how neither Christian Vazquez nor Blake Swihart was not on the trading block, which is somehow both logical and surprising considering Dombrowski’s track record with Red Sox prospects and just prospects in general.

With all due respect to Sandy Leon’s first half of 2016 and the t-shirt gun that Vazquez has somehow convinced MLB is a human right arm, it’s clear that the starting catcher position needs to go to Blake Swihart. Yeah, it’s possible he starts the season in Triple-A. The Sox clearly loved the Sandy Leon Experience enough to 1. Play him at DH that one time, a fact that continues age like a fine wine and 2. Let him be the starting catcher for the entire second half of the season when he hit .269, including the last six weeks of the year when that number dropped to .213 with a .539 OPS. To put that in perspective, when Swihart was sent down six games into 2016 because the organization felt he wasn’t polished enough behind the plate, he was hitting .278 with a .669 OPS. Sure, that sample size isn’t enough to definitively claim that Swihart was going to be a good hitter all season, but by that thought process, it couldn’t have been enough to claim he wasn’t, either.

Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald seems to think that Swihart will contribute, although not from behind the plate. That seems farfetched.  He gave left field the ol’ college try and barring an injury or roster move, that’s almost certainly not happening again. Brock Holt and Chris Young are both blocking his move into that fourth outfielder spot while Mitch Moreland, Hanley Ramirez and Young will man the DH/1B role, which is even more underwhelming to say out loud than it is to read in your head. Maybe Moreland doesn’t work out, the Sox love Hanley at DH and all of a sudden there’s an opening at first? What other scenario could happen that would open up a roster spot that isn’t catcher for Swihart? Seriously, I’m asking.

Quick hits

OhgodEduardoRodriguezhurthiskneeagain. The Red Sox say it’s fine, so I guess I’ll just have to take them at their word! Guess his knee is fine! It’s all fine. Everything is fine. Life is fine. Jason Mastrodonato says we should lower our expectations when it comes to Rodriguez.  Ben Buchanan says Rodriguez needs to skip the World Baseball Classic. Jen McCaffrey also voices concerns about the team letting him pitch in the WBC. It’s all fine.

Michael Silverman reported that the Red Sox and Yankees are looking likely to play a game in London sometime in 2018.  Time zones be damned, I’m confident that it will still find a way to be broadcast from 8-12:30 on a Sunday night that you had never planned on staying up that late for. If it’s anything like this video, I am in 1000%.

Photo by Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports Images

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