One of the things I’ve been watching in the early going is who the scapegoat will be in Boston if things don’t turn around quick. The easy choice — and leader at the moment — is Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He fits for so many reasons. He’s more or less unproven. He’s been given a starting job more or less by default. His backup is a fan favorite. As a catcher he’s a handy person to blame for both offensive woes (his own) and pitching woes due to his calling the game (even if the pitching stinks and the game is called from the dugout; no one said the scapegoat business is fair).
While the search for scapegoats can be nasty business, I’m kind of agnostic about it with a team like the Red Sox because they’re managed by smart people who tend not to overreact. If Salty is skewered, it will likely be after he’s had every reasonable shot to prove himself, not because the press and talk radio went nutty. And based on Jon Heyman’s column today, that seems to be what’s happening:
A Red Sox person said they weren’t concerned yet about Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who went 0-for-10 with five strikeouts to open the season against his old team, the Rangers. Word is, he has until June to prove he belongs as the starting catcher.
That’s a pretty decent amount of time before a contender looks at other options. In the meantime: get hitting, Salty.
Thursday is September 1, which means rosters expand. As a result, the Nationals plan to promote pitcher Mat Latos to the major league roster, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Latos had an opt-out clause for Monday, but after discussing the matter with the team, he agreed to stay at Triple-A Syracuse until Thursday.
Latos, 28, put up a 4.62 ERA over 11 starts with the White Sox before being released in mid-June. Nearly two weeks later, he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals.
In the Nationals’ minor league system, Latos has made three starts for the club’s Gulf Coast League team as well as three for Syracuse. In aggregate, the right-hander has yielded six runs (four earned) on 20 hits and 10 walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Latos will likely pitch out of a long relief role for the Nationals and can be used as starting rotation insurance as well.
Mark Buehrle hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in professional baseball since last October. Still, the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind having some insurance, so manager John Gibbons recently texted Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September,” Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports.
Buehrle’s response? He texted back a picture of a lake. Sounds like he’s not interested in making a return, at least this year.
Last year, at the age of 36, Buehrle went 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA with a 91/33 K/BB ratio in 198 2/3 innings while leading the league with four complete games. He fell 1 1/3 innings shy of a 15th consecutive 200-inning season. There are many worse ways to end a career.