Kelly Shoppach's signing last offseason was an indication of what was to come. Inked on December 13 to a $1.35 million contract, Shoppach shouted loud and clear that the Red Sox just did not have the money available to make big changes.
This is not to say he was a bad signing. He wasn't. For their $1.35 million, the Red Sox got an OPS of .798 from their backup catcher, letting Salty avoid those at-bats against left-handed pitchers he is so clearly not fond of, and of course providing us with this gem. And, really, can you put a price on that?
No, no you cannot.
Shoppach's December arrival was not the only time he provided a sign, however. The bearer of bad news as 2012 came to an end, Shoppach was arguably the harbinger of the end as the Sox tumbled down the standings in August as well. On August 14, with the Red Sox three games under .500 and 12.5 back in the A.L. East, Shoppach was unceremoniously shipped to the New York Mets for Pedro Beato.
In part, this cleared the way for the Sox to give Ryan Lavarnway some (disastrous) run as the season died down. Still, with a catcher hitting to the tune of a .800 OPS, you might think the Sox should have just waited to see if someone, anyone would offer up at least a lottery ticket type prospect rather than simply dumping him off on the first team that offered.
Perhaps it's because of the three-ring Bobby Valentine circus that Shoppach's time in Boston ended this way. As soon as he was gone, there was some finger pointing that Shoppach had been an agitator, and that it was he who had texted ownership about the team's frustration. One would hope that expressing displeasure with a disaster like Bobby would not lead to a public hanging, but that may well be giving everyone involved in last year's catastrophe too much credit.
Either way, it was a good few months from Shoppach, showing just how much a good bench player can bring a team when used right. Hopefully it's the beginning of a tradition behind the plate, with David Ross set to take over the role for 2013.