Face it Boston fans: Jason Varitek is going to be playing for the Sox until your grandkids have grandkids. Peter Gammons just reported that the Sox is about to sign a $2 million contract.
You have to think that this means that Saltalamacchia is the starter and Varitek the backup, right? Of course that’s the case. Except, man, if you’re Saltalamacchia, don’t you have to be a bit nervous? He’s not Victor Martinez, whose obviously superior talent kept in the starting slot no matter what happened. He’s a kid, still yet to realize his potential and about whom many questions have already been raised by the columnists and talk radio. I liken the dynamic to your girlfriend keeping her ex-boyfriend around for yard work purposes. She says she loves you, baby, but you can’t feel too secure about things.
Varitek is no longer a viable starter, but if Salty struggles, you know damn well people are going to cry out for the Captain to be behind the plate. In the grand scheme of things this is a small problem — and there are about a zillion worse caddies for Salty to have than the guy who knows more about catching in Boston than anyone this side of Carlton Fisk — but really, you have to wonder when, if ever, the Sox are going to move away from Varitek.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?