Well here we are at 2-10, a place where the Boston Red Sox nor their fans thought they would even think about going to. At least not with this team.
One of the weak points in this lineup to begin the season was Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who took over for the departed Victor Martinez as the everyday catcher. The Red Sox acquired the catcher at the Trade Deadline last season from the Texas Rangers in hopes that he would be the catcher of the future.
Even though most of this Red Sox lineup has gotten off to a slow start, Saltalamacchia has lived up to his title as a weak link in the lineup. At least when facing a left-handed pitcher.
Saltalamacchia had yet another disappointing performance at the plate on Friday night as he went 0 for 3 with a pair of strikeouts batting right handed against Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil. In those three at bats, Salty left three men on base, including two that were in scoring position. The Red Sox eventually lost that game 7-6 and could have used those potential runs that Salty stranded on base.
So far when facing a lefty, Salty has yet to even reach base. That should explain it all. Not to mention some of throws from behind the plate. Yeesh.
Saltalamacchia's dismal performance last night was just one of the very many frustrating moments Red Sox fans such as myself have had to endure during this horrid start. Some may think that because of his often struggles as a right-handed hitter, that he should just be rid of completely. While he's a terrible hitter from the right side, he only hits from the right side when facing a left handed pitcher. Remember, he is a switch hitter.
Despite his struggles when batting right handed, Salty hasn't been as bad when batting left handed. So far, Saltalamacchia has has swung a .200/.304/.250 bat and has driven in a pair of runs for the Sox. These numbers aren't awesome, but they certainly aren't worth benching a guy over just yet.
I propose that manager Terry Francona just consider benching Salty when their is a left handed pitcher on the mound, not all together.
Instead, Francona should utilize the likes of Jason Varitek against left handed pitchers. The numbers tell the story:
Saltalamacchia against LHP: .202/.261/.319
Varitek against LHP: .278/.357/.469
While it is clear Tek's best years are behind him, he would serve as a clear upgrade against lefties compared to Saltalamacchia, who has yet to even get a hit against a lefty this season. This also allows Francona the opprotunity to let Varitek catch the pitching staff on a more consistent basis. Pitchers like Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka have worked better with Tek' catching, compared to Salty and V-Mart.
So far, Saltalamacchia has gotten 76 innings behind the plate, while Varitek only has 24 innings of work.
You may ask, well why not just bench Salty all together? Or why not just get him off the roster all together?
Well believe it or not, the man hits right handed pitching pretty well, actually better than Varitek has over his career:
Saltalamacchia against RHP: .271/.341/.415
Varitek against RHP: .250/.336/.422
Despite his early struggles, Saltalamacchia has actually done pretty well when batting left-handed and I believe that the Red Sox should give him a little extra time to settle in a little bit more comfortable in his new role. We've only played 12 games for goodness sake.
Carl Crawford has been worse at the plate than Saltalamacchia has this season (if that means anything at all).
Do I think the Red Sox need to maybe think about trading for an additional catcher, or giving Bengie Molina a call down the road? Absolutely, I just think it's a little to early to throw Salty under the bus just because he can't hit lefties.
Just let him focus getting settled into the role as a regular catcher, and if he begins to struggle even against lefties than I think Theo Epstein needs to be making some calls.
Otherwise, I believe the Red Sox just need to let Salty be in the lineup when a right hander is on the mound for the time being. Salty's proven to us he flat out can't hit left handers, lets let him prove to us he can hit right handers just fine.