Catcher Controversy Looming?

After last years comedy of errors helmed by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, it's difficult to find controversy with this Red Sox team. Sure, there was a bit of a dust up in Toronto last week created by a bunch of blustery Blue Jay broadcasters who think they have some sort of special insight because one was a marginal player and the other a marginal Hall of Famer. You would have thought Jack Morris was analyzing the Zapruder film.

The 2013 Red Sox have been relatively drama free. Even the possibility of a closer controversy was quashed when Bailey hit the disabled list today. But could there be a catcher controversy coming. With the poor performance of Jarrod Saltalamacchia combined with the presence of better than a backup David Ross, there has been some rustling behind closed doors at Yawkey Way.

Last week ESPN's Buster Olney spoke of the catcher situation on WEEI Boston saying the Red Sox could be looking to improve their catching situation:

“With Saltalamacchia, I’ve heard this from executives of other teams: They say they think that the Red Sox will be looking for an upgrade at that position, possibly even before the trade deadline at some point. They feel like, given the money that they’re paying him, he’s got to perform better than how he’s been performing at the beginning of this year."

Saltalamacchia avoided salary arbitration by signing a one-year contract over the winter for $4.5 million. He is hitting .221 with 31 strikeouts in 24 games. Salty does have power. He hit a career high 25 home runs last year, but his OBP was an offsetting .288.

The signing of veteran backstop David Ross over the winter seemed puzzling. But Ross is a highly respected player the Braves hated to lose.

Ross, who was not signed for his offense, is currently hitting .243 in 12 games with 4 home runs and an OPS of .944. But the noticeable difference is the work behind the plate. Ross has thrown out 40 percent of base runners each of the last four years and he's 3 of 9 this year. Salty is 1-13 with two errors and two passed balls. The team ERA when Ross catches is 2.89. When Saltalamacchia is behind the plate the team ERA is almost 4.

Is there a catcher controversy? Not yet, but it may start to get interesting as the season progresses. With Ross playing well and Ryan Lavarnway hitting .317 at AAA Pawtucket, Saltalamacchia could become expendable. Other teams will be looking for power from the catching position as the trade deadline approaches in July. The power and the price will make him attractive to other teams looking for a piece or two.

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