By Jack Corsi – @jcorsi11
Over the past several years, the Red Sox have seemingly struggled to find a full time replacement at catcher. Look at the names that have spent a few years here, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross, Ryan Hanigan and even AJ Piezynski. These guys had an impact but weren’t franchise guys. Right now, the Sox have 2 potential franchise catchers, but can they afford to keep both of them?
So if you haven’t put 2 and 2 together, I am talking about Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon. The dynamic duo has been pretty good this year. Both guys are hitting, well in at least my opinion, pretty good for catchers. Vazquez hitting close to .300 and Leon hitting in where I think a good catcher should hit, that’s about .250. I have relaxed expectations for catchers, because I believe them to be some of the most focused guys in the game. They have to be on the same page with basically everyone on the team at the same time, so I stay cool with a .250 average.
When you look at catching, I truly think Vazquez is the better of the two. I think he calls the better game of the two, and that’s no knock on Sandy Leon. What helps Vazquez is that he came up in a better farm system than Leon. People forget that Leon is originally from the Nats, who I think have a somewhat weak farm system. What both carry is a gun for an arm; they both seemingly almost always gun down runners stealing bases.
The pitching staff preference and chemistry is what I think it could come down to. The guys throwing the baseball will choose who they want to work with, and right now I think the staff is split between those two guys. To me, that’s a good thing and can really shake things up. But come playoff time, don’t be surprised if the younger guy (Vazquez) is the one in the lineup, he really seems to be heating up right now.
Long term is the real question. With catchers, you always hear the old words of “his knees are going fast”. At 28 years old, Sandy Leon may not have a long shelf life in the game, no I am not saying that 28 is old, but for a catcher I mean it’s not young. The Sox may want to keep them as the dynamic duo that they are, and then try to further them for something down the line. If you have control of them for the next couple seasons then why not. But then again it is the Red Sox front office making these decisions, and well the decisions made in the past have not always made sense.
I prefer Vazquez, but there are plenty of people who disagree. I won’t throw the numbers at you because numbers do not always matter. It’s about the impact they have both on and off the field and how they develop into a pro.