To begin with, I think in the end I wanted the Sox to trade for Roy Halladay. Brad Penny is inconsistent, Smoltz has yet to pan out, and Bucholz is just as hit-or-miss. Adding Halladay would’ve made our starting rotation almost unbeatable, especially come playoff time. But if we couldn’t get him, I’m glad nobody else got him. If he’d gone to the Yankees, it would’ve meant the division and possibly the World Series. The fact that they didn’t get him, while on the one hand speaking to the strength of their existing rotation, suggests that maybe the Yankees just don’t have the prospects left in their farm system to acquire a player like Roy Halladay. And without him, I still think the Sox can catch and eventually overtake the Yankees. The division is still within striking distance, especially with ten games left against the Yankees (whom the Sox are a nifty 8-0 against this season), and the playoffs in general look very good for the Sox. I think this will be another season that goes deep into October.
Now onto the actual trade. I don’t know all that much about Victor Martinez, truth be told, although the little I’ve seen of him suggests he’ll make an excellent addition to the Sox battery. He brings a number of positive traits to the Red Sox. He hits better than Adam LaRoche, who I am a little sorry to see go, redundant as he became. He can play first base, allowing us to still provide relief for Mike Lowell and give Youk the occassional day off, much as he might not want to take it. Most importantly, the Sox have finally have an offensive catcher. I love Varitek, and he might call a better game than Victor Martinez, but Martinez hits way better than Varitek does. This allows us to pinch hit him in games when he doesn’t play. It also gives us a veteran backup catcher. George Kottaras still has a lot to learn about game-calling and team leadership, and so far he seems to have made a number of mistakes. Look at most of the teams bigger losses and near-losses, and you’ll see Kottaras behind the plate. I’m sure he is trying as hard as he can, he just isn’t learning as quickly as a playoff-bound team might need. He does a great job catching Wakefield, but Doug Mirabelli knew a lot more about controlling a game and doing all of the things a catcher needs to do to lead a team to victory. And it is as much about the catcher as it is about the pitcher. That’s why the Japanese word for catcher translates roughly to “pitcher’s wife.” The pitcher and catcher are a team, and most of the responsibility for victory or defeat falls to them. So far, George Kottaras has not shown he is ready to be partners with the major league caliber pitchers that he is working with. Someday he will be, at least in a back-up role. But the Red Sox need someone who can help their team win right now, and Victor Martinez provides a much better option at one of the most important positions in baseball.