Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lavarnway's Time is Now

Yesterday I asked when the Red Sox would call-up catcher Ryan Lavarnway from Triple-A Pawtucket and today Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe basically asks the same question.

Lavarnway, the 24-year-old Yale product, is known for his hitting and the Red Sox are right now in desperate need of hitting.  In 2010 (126 games between Single-A and Double-A) and 2011 (116 games between Double-A and Triple-A), Lavarnway showed his potential at the plate.  In 2010 he batted .288 with an OPS .882, blasted 22 home runs, and drove in 102 runs.  Last year he duplicated that success by hitting .290, posting a .939 OPS, driving in 93 runs, and belting 32 homers.  His success in 2011 earned him a promotion to Boston and although the numbers were not great (.231 average, .738 OPS, 2 HR, 8 RBI in 16 games) he has established himself as the catcher of the future for the Red Sox.

One area the Red Sox believed that Lavarnway needed to improve was his defense and that seemed to drive their decisions to sign veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach this winter and to start Lavarnway in Pawtucket this year.  However, with the slow start at the plate from Shoppach and starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (a combined 2-for-20), the time to play Lavarnway is now.

By committing to Lavarnway now, the Red Sox would be setting themselves up nicely for the rest of the decade behind the plate.  A combination of Lavarnway and Saltalamacchia (aged 26 and can also play first base) would solidify the Sox behind the plate for the next several years and would be a part of a youth movement that should also include shortstop Jose Iglesias and third baseman Willie Middlebrooks.

The 2012 Red Sox also have a need for Lavarnway's bat in their tepid lineup and by making the move now, the team would be showing its fans that although they might be lagging behind the Rays and Yankees right now that they consider themselves contenders and feel the need to upgrade their lineup.

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