I admit to having very mixed feelings about this whole Varitek process.
On the one hand, one thing that irritates me about the current crop of Red Sox upper managers is their habit of shamelessly hedging their bets, right up to the very last minute if need be. In theory, that isn't such bad practice-hold out for the best deal, be the last man standing, and good things will often come your way. In practice, it doesn't always work so well when you're working with human beings-I'm convinced that what caused the fragile Manny to become completely unhinged was not the idea of not getting the money he wanted-he certainly seems willing to deal with some ambiguity on that score-it was the thought that he was the backup plan if the Sox weren't able to land Jason Bay, for whom they were openly lusting. He thought he deserved better...and he did, no matter what you thought of his behavior afterwards. He wasn't just another guy. Don't even bother arguing with me about that one, folks. It's water under the bridge now anyway.
We've had that same water flowing under Jason Varitek the whole off season. What the Sox are now essentially saying to him, IMO is this: well, Captain, hard as we tried we really couldn't come up with anything better over the off-season, so here's an offer, guaranteed one year, two maybe. You're lucky you've got that one, by the looks of things. I mean, really. How...pennywise and pound foolish, as my mother would say. It's not whether or not the Sox resign him, because I don't actually have a horse in that race. But now that the decision to retain him has evidently been made, it just burns me that the Sox brass is so fucking cheap and borderline disrespectful, frankly. For Christ's sake, he's the captain. You already made him wait all winter. GIVE HIM A GUARANTEED TWO YEARS. What the hell difference does it make, even if you have to eat a good portion of the second year? It's not like you've blown all that Teixeira money or anything (although I suppose it did cost a good chunk of change taxiing the WS trophy around New England and ratcheting up the ticket angst-best way to make something scarce is to tell everybody it is). Pay him and move on.
On the other hand, Varitek did turn down an arbitration offer that could have brought him the same $10-$12 mil he was looking for, although through a nonguaranteed back door (if I were a player, I'd turn down arbitration every time, too. Talk about playing against a stacked deck). And I'm still not sure what Varitek brings to the table that a less experienced, younger guy couldn't. My grandmother could take his place in the lineup and not miss a beat, and she died in 1979. Yes, there's all that blah-blah about what a stabilizing presence he is to the pitchers, but just take a look at the pitching staff coming in for 2009-average age of about 49, right? Leaving off Lester, I mean. You think John Smoltz is going to care who his catcher is at this point? That Josh Beckett-a guy who somehow won a WS MVP without Varitek-is going to fold up and die if he doesn't see Tek 60+ feet away? That nobody else can do this job other than Jason Varitek? The ground is full of indispensable people, folks. In a year where the expectations have been deliberately lowered, why not let a new guy take the reins? If the Sox finish third, it won't be Mark Wagner's fault.
So, there you are. I fully expect Jason Varitek to be back in the fold, one way or another. Which, when you get right down to it, is more good news than bad. Three weeks to Ft. Myers...