I’ve got to say something real quick. I don’t know if it’s the New England cynicism that I’ve somehow escaped by not living there for the past few years, or maybe people are just having a bad week or what, but what the hell is with all the Jason Veritek hate? Especially from that rag, the Boston Herald. Nearly ever article has a slant and every comment is nasty. What the hell? Did I miss something? Yeah, he’s getting older, but he’s won you assholes two World Series trophies, played in MORE games than Carlton Fisk, beat up A.Rod and has been the single most loyal player to the Red Sox franchise in the past 30 years. Seriously? You want him to go? Who’s going to catch for you then? The rookie, Josh Bard? Really?
Listen, I realize he’d having a hard time at the plate. I realize his 2nd-base throw-out percentage is getting lower, but you know what, he’s NEVER let us down back there. He caught Shilling’s bloody sock night. He caught Beckett, Pedro, Shilling AND Dice-K in the World Series. That is not an easy thing to do. His number will be retired right along side Fisk and Williams and Yaz. And, when he finally does retire, I’d say it’s a pretty good bet that he’ll be the new catching coach shortly there-after.
Maybe I’m over estimating the “intangibles” as some sports reporters would put it. Maybe what he offers is only mediocre catching and a little leadership. Let me put it to you this way: I would rather have 20 Jason Veriteks in my club house, and come in 3 in the AL East, than a bunch of fucking ass-clown All Stars and win another banner. I’m serious. Sometimes loyalty and character are worth more than batting percentages.
I have more respect for that man as a player than any other player in the major leagues. Name me ONE other player that’s played for only one team for more than 5 years, let alone 12. He is THE Red Sox franchise player of this generation. He’s my captain, he’s your captain, now fucking deal with it.
I’m looking forward to this season. A lot. Complete with Tek behind the plate, where he should be.
That is all.
Without a doubt, Tek is my favorite Red Sox player from the championship era. That said, they need to start phasing him out. As you mentioned, stepping into the box is becoming more of a struggle for him (.220 BA in 2008, and only an abysmal .118 BA in the Playoffs last year), he is no longer reliable for power or to come through in the clutch (2008 was his first sub-.400 SLG year since 2002, and his first sub-.700 OPS year ever), and finally, teams run on him at will, and will continue to do so as his arm continues to weaken. In short, he’s getting old.
Here’s the thing…
Why did the Sox win the 2004 World Series? They won because, amongst other things such as “pitching wins championships,” Theo knew that nostalgia is a bad thing. Shipping Garciaparra (THE Red Sox franchise player of our generaration at the time) out to the Cubs gave them the push they needed to come together and overcome the Yanks. That successful lack of nostalgia is also evident in the fact that the only roster similarities between the 2004 Champs and the 2007 Champs were Tek, Timlin, Schilling, Papi & Manny.
I think today’s signing was a great move. They cut Varitek’s salary in half (from $10M down to $5M) and get his leadership presence in the clubhouse and defensive glove behind the plate for another year (maybe two with the club/player option for 2010). During that time, they’ll mold Bard into a solid Tek replacement or find someone else via trade or free agency; maybe they’ll do both.
But the fact is he’s on his farewell tour. I don’t see why the Herald folks need to be dicks about it (maybe it’s because the Herald folks are dicks all the time?), but it’s what needs to happen. I’ll be sad when he goes, and will be happy when “33” is hanging out in right field.
(Here’s a question for debate: is Tek the only Sox player from the ’04 and/or ’07 teams who will have his number retired? I’d say yes, he’s certainly the only lock. Maybe Papi? Maybe Schilling? It’s admittedly too early to know, but maybe Papelbon or Lester? Maybe not. Discuss.)
(Oh and one more thing: as for your “Name me ONE other player that’s played for only one team for more than 5 years” argument…c’mon Matt…that one was silly. Tek’s not even in the top 5: http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/shareit/3pRb)
Oh I totally agree that he’s nearing retirement and they need to start prepping replacements. That’s to be expected. Bard isn’t that bad either, but doesn’t have the experience to tackle a pitching staff like the Sox by himself. I think you’re right in that they’ll bring in someone else via trade to help out or at least split the duty.
Hmm, that’s a good debate question. Tek is in, without a doubt. Schilling, while good, has only been here a short time by comparison, so he’s questionable. Papi, IF he stays for the majority of his career, then yes. If he gets a big deal and walks, then it’s 50/50. Papelbon is the same, if he sticks around and doesn’t burn out in the next year or two, he’s probably good. Lester, hmmm, I’ll have to think about Lester, that’s a good one.
Ok, so there’s a few people who have played for 5 years or more, I probably should have said 8. But look at that chart. By the time you get to #12 you’re already under 10 years. 12 people in all of the MLB have played for a single team for 10 years and #3 (Anderson) doesn’t count because he’s moved twice. I don’t expect everyone to stay in one place. It’s a business and a job and you want to make money just like everyone else, so sometimes you move or get traded or whatever. But, and this is just my opinion, that number should be a lot higher. Each team should have that great seasoned veteran in the clubhouse. Maybe I’ve seen to many corny baseball movies, but I equate older and experienced players with the sense of nostalgia that keeps me loving the game. Call me an old sentimentalist, but I think the game needs a lot more Roy Hobbs and a lot less Scott Boras.
Oh, and the next Boston player on that list is Youkilis at #140. But I’m not entirely sure how accurate that list is, Papi isn’t on it anywhere, and I was pretty sure he joined in 2003 and Youkilis in 2004, which means he should be not only on, but ahead of Kevin in the list somewhere. Not to mention Wakefield. His wikipedia entry says he joined the Sox in 1995 (!) and he’s not on the list either. Technically, he’s been there longer than Veritek.
Anyway, all good points. I think we’re both thinking the same thing. He’s valuable to the team in more ways than his slugging percentage, which is why he’s still around, but the Sox should definitely be looking for backup. I just didn’t like all the hate. I knew why people felt we should move on, I just didn’t like the “toss him out on his ass and let’s find someone new” attitude that was floating around.
Ortiz isn’t on that list because he played for another team (Twins) before the Sox. This list is all players that have only played for one team in their entire careers. That’s not to say there are other players that have been with one particular team longer. These are just the players who are still playing with the team they broke in with.
Also once the season starts everyone moves up a rung as Smoltz is playing for the Sox now. Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn and Kerry Wood also drop off that list.