Boston Red Sox Catching Job Up For Grabs With Sandy Leon Struggling
Since Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek retired in 2011 Boston has struggled to find an everyday catching option. They have seen the likes of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski, but everything they have tried just hasn’t panned out with no true everyday catching option revealing itself.
Going into this season the Red Sox had three candidates for their main catching job with Vasquez, Leon, and Swihart all vying for the position. With Vasquez, you had the recovery from Tommy John and the unknown on offense, with Swihart you had the bat but not the glove, with Leon you supposedly had something in-between after he broke out offensively last season.
No Candidate Is Made Equally Or Perfect
All three have their liabilities and going into the season the Boston Red Sox went with Leon and Vasquez on te 25-man-roster and Swihart down in AAA-Pawtucket. Swihart has had mixed success so far in Pawtucket with a .200 batting average, but he has two home runs and 11 RBIs in just 45 at bats. But with his defensive skills still not ideal the chances of him being the every starter right now is slim, the best he can hope for is getting called up to be the back-up or change his position again.
Sandy Leon who has been the primary catcher of sorts for Boston has started to struggle mightily at the plate and in 50 plate appearances, he is batting .180. Leon is fine defensively but on offense, he is a career .247 hitter and that is including him hitting .310 last season for Boston. Leon according to many projections is a .235-.240 hitter and nothing more than that, and for that reason, Boston will likely transition the primary catching duties over to Vasquez.
Vasquez has had a hot start to his season by playing superb defense along with an elite offensive production with 13 hits in just 27 at-bats giving him a .481 Avg. While his offensive production right now is way above his capabilities, it is not unreasonable for the career .251 hitter to exceed expectations. Realistically he could finish the year in the .255-.265 range given the fact that he has yet to show his true offensive potential.
Who should “The Guy” be?
The question for Boston is whether or not they are fine with that average out of the catcher position. Normally one would say yes, but with the offensive production below normal this season the idea of a Swihart who has a high offensive output is a tempting one. For now, Vasquez is the guy that should be getting the starting role in Boston, but the backup role should be given to Swihart once he heats up in Pawtucket.
Having Vasquez as the defensive catcher with a so-so hitting ability and Swihart as the pinch hitter/backup role offers Farrel more versatility and pop when he needs it the most. Leon and Vasquez are just too similar in terms of positives to make sense for the long-term outlook.