The Red Sox don’t need Jason Varitek. They have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach. Meanwhile, Varitek has had no known interest from any other team. Things look grim for his future.
But the Red Sox are at least offering him a temporary lifeline: Jon Heyman reports that they’ve offered a minor league deal with a spring training invite. Though there is some debate here: Ian Browne hears differently: that there has been no invite yet and the team is waiting to see what Varitek wants to do.
The smart money is that — if there is an invite now or soon — it’s out of courtesy, so that Varitek has someplace to report and to work out in February, giving him a few extra weeks to figure out what he’s doing or to latch on with another team. But given his .221/.300/.423 line in 2011 — and his almost complete lack of defensive value as a catcher anymore — it’s not like there are many teams who would be willing to sign him.
Perhaps the Sox could use however long he has in spring training to persuade Varitek to pull a Posada and bow out gracefully and/or accept a coaching or front office position with the team.
UPDATE: According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the club has not made a formal offer to Varitek.
A Solar Eclipse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.
Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.
Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union — launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.
Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:
“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”
As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.
I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.