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Varitek's Return to the Sox

Most of Red Sox Nation has endured the never ending saga of Jason Varitek's quest to continue his career. Those of us who are in Varitek's corner wanted him to return, to catch for the talented Red Sox pitching staff, to assist them and prepare them for battle throughout the season. Then there were those who were staunchly opposed to bringing back Varitek at any cost. Saying his skills have eroded to far to consistently contribute to the offense. Well, on Friday January 29, 2009, the saga had finally ended and for some of us our wants were answered as Varitek agreed to a one-year $5 million contract with a player/team option with incentives for 2010. Those who were opposed, you may well get your chance to say I told you so to the rest of us...or hopefully just go away when he does perform well. My feeling is one that he will perform again. I am firm believer that no player loses their hitting skills as quickly or as greatly as Varitek has in the last season and a half. I also believe that a .240-.260 average is something that can be obtained, I mean lets be honest and not blind, he is not going to be the same hitter he was from '02-'05, but he should still be a solid contributor. Injuries and age have begun to eat at Varitek's hitting skills, but that doesn't mean he is going to hit like Doug Mirabelli (a career .231 hitter in 1456 at bats). It just means that if Varitek hits around his career average of .263 with 12-18 home runs and 50-70 rbi, you have gotten exactly what Varitek is, a better than league average hitting catcher who makes the pitching staff better because of his hard work and preparation. It is an if, but not a big if and is something that should be considered. I will not use his documented personal issues as a crutch, but in reality, you need time to deal with issues in your personal life and sometimes those issues take time away from other areas in your professional life. With those issues behind him I have to argue with Chad Finn's Touching All The Bases column on Boston.com (Posted January 30, 2009). Mr. Finn writes that he never wants to hear anyone say the phase again "the .220 average was a fluke--he will bounce back". To this I say VARITEK WILL BOUNCE BACK. He cannot be any worse of a hitter in 2009 that he was in 2008. So Mr. Finn even if we get the league average and not better than league average from Varitek, isn't a .250 avg with 14 hr and 55 rbi a bounce back from a .220 avg with 13 hr and 43 rbi??? Here is to hoping that this Sox Nation member is right and that Mr. Finn (though he finally admits he is glad Varitek is back, just not sure it is in earnest) and the rest of the naysayers are eating their words come the end of 2009!

J. Parkinson

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