It’s OK to Just Back Away, Look at Something Else…Like Saltalamacchia

'Sox fans, Cub fans' photo (c) 2011, Elizabeth Lloyd - license: have advice for all you Red Sox fans:

Stop paying attention until the New Year.

I am just asking you to walk away. I thought as a fanbase we had grown past the internal witch hunts and doomsday behavior, but too many of you are disappointing and need to just take the winter off.

What’s alarming to see is the sudden shift in Sox fans psychology. How are you letting the same poison fill your cup? Haven’t you learned anything from history? I ask this with genuine interest. When the Red Sox won in 2004 I think we are started to realize that it didn’t have to be the way it was before. As fans, we can impact the situation. As it stands today, I can barely listen to the fans. There is too much hysteria. It’s sad.

From the day that the season ended until probably sometime in December we are going to be stuck in a holding pattern as it pertains to the Boston Red Sox.

It’s like circling around Logan Airport burning off fuel in winds of turbulence. Literally, I feel like I am sitting in the middle seat on a flight from California and they will not land the plane. I am forced into listening and looking at things I do not want to because someone else has control.

The worst part is there nothing we can do about it.

There is not thing we can do about it except for wait for all of this offseason to pass. When February gets here you will be interested in putting it behind you. You will be all amped up and ready to go when you see Peter Gammons down at the Fort or Mike Giardi out behind the centerfield fence giving some Carl Crawford update.

But right now…

Right now I hear too many of you yelling and screaming and running around like your heads have been cut off? What do you want? Someone’s head? Can you all just calm down because there is nothing you can do about it.

The way I look at it is as a fan you are now in battle with the media who is now the star of the show. The players are off and gone. They are not even in the city. They are just going to circle around Yawkey Way like crows picking the last pieces of flesh from the fried chicken bones. You can participate or ignore them.

My suggestion is to check out mentally. Just get up and walk away and do not feed the machine anymore. And to the idiot radio callers: You are also not a hero by going on talk radio spewing venom in an effort to be judged favorably by Michael Felger. You are more of a traitor to me than the expert you may fancy yourself. I know you will talk out one side of your mouth but then celebrate as a super fan as soon as it suits you.

We know it’s a journalist’s job to get the story. Gossip stories are a nice, cheap way to elevate your stature and get some page views. In Boston, sports and tabloids blur very easily this makes it a fun place for some people to exist professionally. Tabloids and scandals are even better with Boston sports — especially amidst a particularly shocking event. Hell, I thought after the Patriots bogus scandal that John Tomase ran on SuperBowl Sunday that he would have been hiding out somewhere in Argentina. Instead he’s walking around with a big, shit-eating grin for his success in extracting some of this fried chicken/Francona/Theo/clubhouse drinking drama.

Journalists like to bitch and complain sometimes on Twitter when coaches don’t give them the information they want. There is arrogance to a lot of journalists who are “just doing their jobs.” But their jobs are to further any storyline they can — especially if it hints at scandal. That’s a jackpot for them. I like when coaches or management are somewhat defiant and refuse to allow the media to dictate. Control them and ignore them.

Terry Francona did an amazing job in Boston. He kept the internal stuff internal. The Red Sox sort of followed the Patriots model in how they handled the Boston media. Once that crumbled, look what happened. Exhibit A as to why you need to tell no one anything. Otherwise, we’d be dealing with this kind of crap all season – like the old days.

So as a fan, how do you handle it?

The amount of exuberance and attention you put on the Red Sox during the season, you should put on hold. The media really needs you to fuel that fire for them all fall and winter. I say don’t give it to them and let them play with themselves on air. You know you are passionate and care so much that you are desperate for any updates or breaking news. What is going on with Theo? Who will the manager be? Has John Lackey been traded? Did Josh Beckett really gain 18 pounds?

You love for this team is used against you and once that happens the voice of dissension follows and soon enough we have a war with new enemies and start to distrust the organization. I saw people (girls even) on Facebook yelling for Theo’s head. Really? Kill off the general manager who brought two World Series and had architected a team that was on pace for 100 wins? It was a terrible, terrible September but things are not as bad as you are led to believe.

Turn off the information and come back later when you calm down.

2012 will mark the beginning of a regime change in a lot of ways for the Red Sox. Ben Cherington, a new manager, some new base coaches, a few new Cubs prospect and behind the plate: a new starting catcher. Whether or not Jason Varitek returns, the catcher position now belongs to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and for the first time since 1997, we need to envision a future without the captain.

Salty has a little ways to go in terms of maturing into a dependable full-time catcher, but if anything is clear, 2011 was a growth year for the 26-year old. According to Fangraphs, Saltalamacchia was a 2.5 WAR player worth $11 million. Comparatively, Carl Crawford was a 0.2 WAR worth $900,000.

Salty definitely can hit for power as evidenced by his .215 ISO (isolated power) and his home run-to-fly ball rate which finished firmly at 14%. The biggest fly in the ointment for Saltalamacchia offensively is his EYE. He does not take a lot of walks and strikes out about 32% of the time. That sticks you into the group of a .230 hitter. The nice thing about the consistent power is that it’s pushed his xBA to its highest point in his career. Saltalamacchia’s xBA has risen above .240 for the first time in his career. Not usually something worth pointing out–except when .217 was one’s high mark previously.

September was obviously a bad month for a lot of Red Sox and Saltalamacchia was no exception. In 72 ABs, he hit just .168 while strike out 42% of the time. His 1% walk rate combined with the absurd strikeout rate really made Salty’s season finish on a sour note. He obviously battled injuries late in the year, but the strikeout rate is a real concern for Saltalamacchia.

By most accounts, he seems to handle the pitching staff well but a big question this year is how he will handle it starting as the primary catcher. He will also be working under a new team manager as well as a new pitching coach so the bull’s-eye will be squarely on Saltalamacchia while Ryan Lavarnway develops behind him.

Categories: Carl Crawford Jarrod Saltalamacchia Jason Varitek Josh Beckett Theo Epstein

11 Responses to “It’s OK to Just Back Away, Look at Something Else…Like Saltalamacchia” Subscribe

  1. Don October 23, 2011 at 5:52 PM #

    Interesting piece, Darryl … but I can't agree with you.

    Sorry, but as a longtime Red Sox fan (before the advent of the, um, iPod) it pisses me off to no end that they collapsed in September … couldn't even win two freaking games in a row for the last month. It's also unsettling to see two of the key threads in their success – Francona and Epstein – gone in less than a month. I'm far from the only one who feels this way.

    Sure, there is hope for the future … their roster is loaded with talent and ownership has plenty of $$$$. The sky isn't falling. But "check out mentally?" Uh, I don't think so.

  2. Don October 23, 2011 at 6:01 PM #

    I don't get the "blame the messenger" attacks on the media.

    Let's see, Francona must have said 900 times that he "just couldn't get through to the players anymore." Everyone wondered what the hell that meant. After all, he has been a tremendously successful manager. So yeah, the media started looking closer at the state of the clubhouse. What did you expect them to do?

    Meanwhile, quotes from Wakefield, A-Gon and Lester (among others) show incredible lack of caring about the September collapse that's been even to make any fan's blood boil.

    More than the chicken and beer, what gets me is the reaction of former players to the disarray in the clubhouse – Schilling, Damon, Merloni, John Kruk – and others are appalled by what transpired the Boston locker room. When FORMER PLAYERS are saying that, you know it was bad.

    • Brian October 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM #

      the former players your talking about have no reason to say thats normal clubhouse behavior. They are stoking the fire because thats their job. John kruk is really the voice you believe? Im sure he had a few pieces of fried chicken in his playing days too. The "behavior" did nothing to stop this team from winning. Having a rally beer is not stopping the rest of the team actually playing in the game from winning. They were down to thier 7, 8, 9 starters by the seasons end. I mean who envisioned a a lester, beckett (hurt), Lackey (just bad) wakefield, Miller/Weiland starting rotation. There are not many teams that have that much quality starting depth. Theres alot to be said of the september collapse. But they were 1 out away in 2 different games from making the playoffs. You cant lose sight of how much talent is still on this team.

      • Don October 24, 2011 at 10:48 PM #

        So injuries with the pitching staff were to blame for puking a nine-game lead in September?

        Given that, I'm surprised the Cardinals even bothered to break north after Adam Wainwright got injured in spring training. After all, he had finished second in 2010 and third in 2009 in the NL Cy Young voting. Their staff didn't put the fear of God into many teams this year. Then again, the Cardinals didn't have to play tough teams like the Orioles in the final weeks of the season.

        • Brian October 25, 2011 at 10:11 AM #

          Oh ya, because the cardinals played in the AL east. No, they got to feed off 3 of the worst teams in the astros,, pirates and cubs. The reds weren't very good either. And they blew a lead in the 9th inning in what seemed like a must win game to the mets. not too different then us blowing it against the oriloes. Also, notice 1 pitcher got hurt. 1. not 3. Take jamie garcia and jackson off that rotation and your suddenly looking at below level replacements as thier back end starters and they dont make the playoffs either. put them in the best division in baseball and they aren't close.
          Im not giving excuess for us losing the lead. We played like shit. all of it. Mental errors. No pitching. Stupid mistakes. It was a culmination of maliase that killed this team. But it wasn't a beer. it wasn't fried chicken. It wasnt that the players stops listening to Tito. it wasn't theo. It was the players . And just like you cant take away sept, you cant take away may, june and july. This team is built to win. And with a few minor changes, and maybe a manager that "changes the culture" we'll be right where we thought we'd be.. playing this week next year.

          • darryljohnston October 25, 2011 at 10:49 AM #

            I don't blame the media, I just say be wary of their motives and understand as a fan that exploitation of your loyalty will be in full effect. You can participate in the ffseason circus or ignore it. To me, it's boring. We can't change anything. The team can't win any games or take your minds off September. So we are left with lame scandals, finger-pointing, and tons of experts opining on the end of baseball season.

            I would say most of our readers and commentors are level-headed but my main point is directed at the general population.

  3. Don October 23, 2011 at 6:20 PM #

    Let's put the clubhouse issues aside …

    What really irks Red Sox fans is that the franchise has become the team they've loved to hate for eons – the Yankees. Boston has assembled an all-star roster that has too many overpriced, underperforming free-agents. (I mean, after 162 games, they still couldn't figure out where to bat Crawford in the lineup!) Meanwhile, the farm system has produced little.

    Since Boston won the World Series four years ago, how many impact players have made their major-league debut in a Red Sox uniform? Daniel Bard? Maybe I'm leaving someone out, but I can't think of any others.

    So yeah, having a franchise that resembles the hated Yankees is a bitter pill for a lot of Red Sox fans.

    • Gerry October 24, 2011 at 2:55 AM #

      I agree 100% with Darryl about not responding to aggressive fault finding and pot stirring by media. I can't tune the haters out any more than I can tune out the intentionally divisive vitriol of the tea partiers. They are equally pervasive, loud, and without humor…IMO, but I won't feed the beast by responding. Don, I agree with you 100% about the Sox emulating the mfy and hope we don't compete for Pujols, Fielder, Darvish, CJ Wilson, Reyes, etc. In addition to being well set at most positions, we do have good talent in AAA and I would rather the Sox, ASAP, bring up Lava, Kalish, Reddick, Linares; put Bowden, Doubront, Weiland in the Pen; focus on the hitting issues of Iglesias, Middleton, Lin; get Miller back in AAA for more work on mechanics, and accelerate Wilson, Pimental. Spend the money on great pitching and other coaches. And drop the price of beer, hot dogs and cracker jacks.

  4. Dale Sams October 24, 2011 at 9:51 AM #

    Out of that list, I'd kick the tires on Darvish…and Fielder is, what? 27? It's a pity there's no real position open for him.

    And I also, with great shame agree about becoming the Yanks. Without the 'Pinstripe Effect'. It's an embarrassment.

    • darryljohnston October 25, 2011 at 10:50 AM #

      Fielder's off again, on again track record and his weight concern me long-term. Darvish I am luke-warm on. The Japanese import thing just makes me shrug my shoulders at this point.


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