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Red Sox sign Kelly Shoppach to replace Jason Varitek as backup catcher

Dec 13, 2011, 11:19 AM EDT

shoppach_kelly

Kelly Shoppach was the Red Sox’s second-round pick in 2001 and debuted for them in 2005, but was traded to the Indians in the Coco Crisp swap that offseason and went on to establish himself as a solid backup catcher who crushes left-handed pitching.

Now he returns to Boston to fill that exact role, with Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reporting that Shoppach has agreed to a one-year, $1.35 million deal with the Red Sox.

When pressed into extended duty Shoppach has struggled to hit above .200, but if limited to a platoon role versus left-handed pitching he’s capable of being very effective. Shoppach has been useless against righties during the past three seasons, hitting just .156, but he’s hit .262 with a .372 on-base percentage and .488 slugging percentage off lefties.

Starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter, but he’s been much better against righties (.265 AVG, .772 OPS) than lefties (.207 AVG, .604 OPS) during his career. Pairing him with Shoppach is a good fit and the price is certainly right.

  1. Old Gator - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    Lying on his professional deathbed, Varitek opened his eyes one last time and muttered, “Rodriguez lives….”

    • bigharold - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      That should be “Rodriguez still survives …”

      But, I get it, .. dead funny.

  2. 18thstreet - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Goodbye, Captain. And thanks.

  3. crashdog - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    Congrats Boston. You have made your team worse while making the Rays better.

  4. yankeesgameday - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    Ugh. Shoppach owns cc sabathia.

  5. uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    I guess the Red Sox will be looking for a new Captain. Unfortunate that another player who has played his entire career with one with team has it come to such an unceremonious end not unlike Jorge Posada.

    • JBerardi - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:51 AM

      I mean, how else would it end? He can’t play forever.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:04 PM

      This is just like how they made every other player leave at some point. They haven’t had a real shortstop since Rico Petrocelli, the heartless bastards

      • crashdog - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:11 PM

        I know right? That Nomar cat sucked

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 8:28 PM

        The Red Sox idiots would love to think so because Nomar got run out of town and he’s on the fans’ sh!t list. Fact is that Nomar was better than anyone since and better than Rico as well.

  6. deathmonkey41 - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Hey, maybe he could have a breakout year and hit 25 HRs like Tek did in 2003………..

  7. bigharold - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    Hail and Farewell Capt. Sucker Punch, .. er Intangibles.

    • Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:27 PM

      I’m pretty sure Jeter lays claim to the name Captain Intangibles.

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:02 PM

        And I’m pretty sure that Jeter’s numbers stand on their own.

  8. Jack Marshall - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    Varitek is a Sox All-Time great, but this was a necessary move, and probably a year too late. He should announce his retirement, and let the Sox hire him for something.

    • shaggylocks - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:16 PM

      Is Valentine still looking for a bench coach?

  9. dirtdog7 - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    I guess this means Lavarnway will get another year in the minors to develop as a catcher? He looked like a promising bat in September.

    • JBerardi - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      I could see the Sox trading Lavarnway, especially if internally they’re down on his ability to catch. They’re not exactly hard up for first base/DH types. He’s a good prospect but not so good that the Red Sox would blink at giving him up in a deal for, say, Gio Gonzalez. C’mon Beane, he’s Jesus Montero if you squint hard enough…

    • psousa1 - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      Lavarnway is getting too old to be in triple A and is going to become stagnant. His time is now. Of course it will be the “Lavarnway needs more experience that’s why you can’t bring him up” and then it will be “Lavarnway has no experience that’s why you can’t bring him up”

      • Joe - Dec 13, 2011 at 5:24 PM

        Lavarnway’s just 24, which really isn’t all that old for a AAA catcher. He’s also only spent three months in Pawtucket, so I think it’s a bit early to worry about him stagnating there.

        I’m pretty sure if Lavarnway mashes and his defense is passable, he’s not going to be held up by Kelly Shoppach.

  10. cur68 - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    I don’t know much about Varitek. I do, however, have one lasting impression of him: last season he blocked the plate as Brett Lawrie was steaming home. 21 year old Brett Lawrie, built like a super hero, trucked Jason Varitex, age 39. Keeping in mind that Varitek is the bigger of the two, getting steam rolled by Lawrie should have seen ‘Tek’s aged brittle limbs, held on my injured arthritic joints, fly off like a lego man’s that was dropped on a concrete floor. He should have ‘sploded into constituent bits. But what happened? ‘Tek not only came up with the out, he was laughing after wards. And Lawrie? Pulled from the game after hurting his shoulder crashing into Varitek who is, apparently, made of solid oak.
    I hope he joins Tito in the broadcast booth, if only to describe that collision from his perspective.

    • 18thstreet - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:24 PM

      Really, you don’t have a lasting impression of the game-tying sac fly in game five of the 2004 ALCS off Mariano Rivera?

      • cur68 - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:29 PM

        Nope. In the fall of 2004 I was in the midst of an international move while working full time and trying to find a house, locate my worldly goods and not lose my mind. I couldn’t have told you my own name back then, much less who did what to whom in the ALCS.

    • missthemexpos - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:50 PM

      I remember afterword thinking that this was a good thing for the development of Lawrie as a baseball player, that he is not Superman on the base paths, and to tone down his kamakize style just a little bit so he can stay healthy. Looking forward to a full season of Lawrie in 2012.

  11. bobdira - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    Taking Rays players as Free Agents is brilliant….see: Carl Crawford. Good Luck Sox

    • JBerardi - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:36 PM

      Shoppach’s contract is worth four fifths of one percent of Crawford’s contract.

      • crashdog - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:10 PM

        And as bad as CC was for you last year, you can expect about 4/5 of 1% of his production out of Shoppach

  12. nategearhart - Dec 13, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    Why is everyone cool with the Red Sox not bringing Varitek back, so that he can play for one team for his entire career?
    Oh yeah, because loyalty really IS a one-way street.
    (Note: I think it’d be foolish for the Red Sox to bring him back. I just find this to be a glaring sample of the hypocrisy re: Pujols).

    • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:16 PM

      Red Sox have no loyalty to anyone…neither do their fans.

    • crashdog - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:09 PM

      Your comment lends suggestion that someone else will actually sign him. If it wasn’t for the Sox loyalty, he would already be out of baseball

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:29 PM

        That’s your opinion. We won’t ever really know though, won’t we? Either way, the line is long as regards players who got the heave-ho by the Red Sox after having given their all to the organization. Like I said, no real loyalty at all.

      • JBerardi - Dec 13, 2011 at 7:43 PM

        I don’t understand. What would you suggest the Red Sox do with Varitek? Play him until he personally decides to retire? Even Babe Ruth didn’t get that kind of treatment.

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 8:30 PM

        I don’t “suggest” anything…I am merely making an observation of a phenomenon that has repeated itself countless times in no-loyalty Beantown.

    • Ari Collins - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:28 PM

      Loyalty is a 0-way street. Don’t feel bad for anyone.

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:30 PM

        I wouldn’t expect any less from a Red Sox fan like yourself.

      • 18thstreet - Dec 13, 2011 at 3:06 PM

        The Boston Red Sox paid Jason Varitek $67 million in exchange for his skills as a baseball player. Loyalty has nothing to do with it, nor should it.

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:04 PM

        To players, loyalty should be an issue…and they should avoid teams that consistently crap on their players. The Red Sox would be at the top of the list in that regard.

      • JBerardi - Dec 13, 2011 at 7:46 PM

        Well, unlike some teams, the Red Sox can’t just spend absurd amounts of money to keep museum-peice “captains” around long after they’ve exhausted their value as players.

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 8:36 PM

        The Red Sox seem to be able to spend absurd amounts of money at a higher rate than all but ONE team in recent years…and lest we forget the history (something that New Englanders are masters at when it suits their purposes), Tom Yawkey was the original “Steinbrenner” when it came to buying tons of players, starting with his fleecing of the Connie Mack Philadelphia A’s (Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, et al ring a bell?) and continuing throughout his entire tenure as owner. Too bad all that money went for naught, since he went O-fer in his lifetime. At least Steinbrenner got a good rate of return on his money (seven titles). Besides, why shouldn’t the Yankees spend their money..if they don’t, it just goes into the welfare pot for all of the small-market owners who sit there with their hands out instead of trying to build a winner. And as far as Yankee captains go, just look at Jeter’s year end stats for 2011…he did just fine given his slow start. Sure beats the “slow” finish that the choker Red Sox had this past season.

    • 24missed - Dec 13, 2011 at 3:20 PM

      I have mixed feelings re: bringing Varitek back. I think he still has offer to the catchers.

      You could give Varitek a contract somewhat like Albert P.’s with some part in the organization after his final year of the contract. Making this a one year contract as a catcher and whatever in the organization. He is obviously a very intelligent, well-prepared and hard working individual.

      The other piece of me feels that he really wasn’t a strong leader this year. He could’ve worked on this b.s. more. He wears that “C” for a reason. Varitek never spoke up in defense of Francona. Never. If I am wrong, please, please, please correct me. Correct me on any of this, ’cause I have respected Varitek for so long and this part about Francona was the toughest to swallow.

      So, I love loyalty to one team forever. There doesn’t seem to be that these days, so I hope if Varitek doesn’t re-sign, that he retires as a RS and he comes back to the organization in some capacity.

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:07 PM

        That would make you exceedingly rare among the Red Sox fan posters here, 24missed (as evidenced by those that disagreed with my comments regarding this).

        Congratulations.

  13. bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    I look forward to Shoppach’s anemic batting average continuing…in the Varitek tradition.

  14. psousa1 - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    Loyalty? The Sox kept him around the past 2 years out of loyalty. He would not have been in MLB if they didn’t keep him around out of loyalty. Watch the games.

  15. psousa1 - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    bozo – who have they given the heave ho to? Please don’t say Nomar. He didn’t give them his all. They only won the 2004 WS because they shit canned his ass. When your own temmates were on record as saying they had to get him out of there………………………

    Nomar came of age with the Carle Everett’s and John Valentin type of losers who hated all fans and all media. Nomar took his cure from those guys. Derek Jeter diving into the stands to catch a foul ball against Boston in June 2004 is what helped win Boston the WS. They realized the guy they had at SS (who also refused to play that night – Francona is on record as saying that himself) could not be counted on and who apparently was angling to take off all of August to go watch his wife play in the olympics. Screw Nomar. The biggest phone to play in Boston probably ever.

    • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:08 PM

      Heave ho to:

      Mo Vaughn
      Roger Clemens
      Pedro Martinez
      Manny Ramirez
      Victor Martinez
      Adrian Beltre

      The list is endless.

  16. psousa1 - Dec 13, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    bozo – who have they given the heave ho to? Please don’t say Nomar. He didn’t give them his all. They only won the 2004 WS because they shit canned his ass. When your own temmates were on record as saying they had to get him out of there………………………

    Nomar came of age with the Carle Everett’s and John Valentin type of losers who hated all fans and all media. Nomar took his cure from those guys. Derek Jeter diving into the stands to catch a foul ball against Boston in June 2004 is what helped win Boston the WS. They realized the guy they had at SS (who also refused to play that night – Francona is on record as saying that himself) could not be counted on and who apparently was angling to take off all of August to go watch his wife play in the olympics. Screw Nomar. The biggest phoney to play in Boston probably ever.

    • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:09 PM

      Heave ho to:

      Mo Vaughn
      Roger Clemens
      Pedro Martinez
      Manny Ramirez
      Victor Martinez
      Adrian Beltre

      The list is endless

      • JBerardi - Dec 13, 2011 at 7:50 PM

        If only the Red Sox had held on to Manny Ramirez. The fools!

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 8:27 PM

        ZERO titles since he left Boston. ZERO in the 80 or so years before he got there. Like his antics or not, he was the straw that stirred the drink.

        Denial will get you nowhere.

  17. bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Denial…a river that has run through New England for over 200 years…since New York took over as America’s most populous (and most important) city.

    • trotnixonisbestnixon - Dec 13, 2011 at 5:12 PM

      Dude, I honestly don’t understand you. Most of the people that comment here actually consider others opinions, come up with well-made arguments, and actually add to the conversation, something that makes HBT stand above a lot of other blogs on the web. You, on the other hand, do nothing but blatantly rip on not only the ‘Red Sux’, but the city they play in and the people that live there. You make arguments that would seem rational and/or meaningful to an 11-year old, but are merely annoying and derogatory to most of the posters here. That’s why you generate responses; you are the mosquito that the otherwise well-read patrons here can only try to swat away.

      You are the 1%.

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 7:16 PM

        And you are a typical New England crybaby.

        Odd that I never see any of you guys objecting when Boston fans take potshots at other teams, particularly the Yankees.

        I’ll be looking out for that day though. Probably be awhile. Or maybe never.

  18. Joe - Dec 13, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    I called this signing a couple of weeks ago. Shoppach/Saltalamacchia will form a terrific platoon until Lavarnway is ready to step in.

  19. bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    “Most of the people that comment here actually consider others opinions, come up with well-made arguments, and actually add to the conversation, something that makes HBT stand above a lot of other blogs on the web.”

    I love the arrogance though. There are several blogs that exceed what I see here…then again, I wouldn’t expect you to know this, since you are part of the core here who thinks that this place is the “be-all, end-all”. I’ve got to laugh at how you all try to use the “Thumbs Down” button to push anyone you all deem not worthy to be here, on a public forum. Why others put up with that crap, I’ll never understand. Me, I’m going to say it like it is, no matter if you or anyone else like what they hear or not. So, when I see other teams being shown respect, then I’ll show it as well. Until that time, expect to see it served right back.

    • JBerardi - Dec 13, 2011 at 7:50 PM

      I applaud your ability to be 14 years old, sir.

      • bozosforall - Dec 13, 2011 at 8:06 PM

        As I applaud your ability to type while still in kindegarten. Your mom must be proud. You might just be the first in your family to make it out of that trailer park after all.

    • bobwsc - Dec 13, 2011 at 10:06 PM

      bozosforall: “Me, I’m going to say it like it is, no matter if you or anyone else like what they hear or not.”

      translation: I’m going to keep talking out of my rectum, liberally trashing a team, their fanbase, and an entire region, while making little sense.

    • randygnyc - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:37 PM

      I’m going to have to agree with the clown, here. As a city, Boston isn’t even 2nd rate. As a financial hub, it’s not a pimple on the ass of NY. The worst part of the city is the people, though. Personally, i find the women to be revoltingly unattractive. I just can’t see how anyone can find red-headed, freckled, liberals anything less than grotesque.

      You know what they say, “a good day in baseball is when the Mets lose and the Yankees win. The greatest day in baseball would be the mets losing, the Yankees winning and the red sox plane going down”

      • bobwsc - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:00 AM

        with you as a stow-away on the Sox plane

      • bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:55 AM

        “the red sox plane going down”


        WOW…that’s taking things a bit too far, even for me. Still kinda funny though, in a sick sort of way.

        I do agree with the rest of the assessment of Boston though, randy. And yes, the people are the worst there. Bitter losers who obsess about how the Yankees have owned them ever since the Babe got sold to Colonel Ruppert in 1919 so that the idiot Red Sox owner could continue to dip his wick into his no-talent mistress. The Red Sox ownership has mostly been screwing themselves ever since…except for the steroid-fueled segment in the 2000s, which they used to finally get the 86-year-old monkey off of their backs.

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