Yesterday began the passing of the torch at catcher for Boston, as Theo announced that Victor Martinez will be Boston's starting catcher in 2010. This is really a no-brainer, since he is younger than Varitek and swings a much better bat. The decision now lies with Varitek about coming back with his $3M option as the backup or going into free agency and seeing if he can get a starting job elsewhere.
It hurts when an icon fades and is forced (for whatever reason) from his station. Varitek has been this team's catcher since 1998. He's a four-time All-Star and is one of THE faces of the franchise. But he is getting old and his bat is shot. I hope he stays here; he is still valuable to this team as a catcher and a teacher. But if he decides he wants to trying starting somewhere else...you can't blame him.
The other news was the Sox signing Tim Wakefield to a two-year deal that could pay Wakefield between $5-$10M based on incentives. It replaces the perpetual $4m/yr deal he had previously and is widely recognized as representing his final two years in the game.
This deal is beyond fair to both parties (as Wakefield's contracts have always been) and gives Wakes a real shot at overtaking the all-time wins slot for the franchise. He currently has 175 wins with Boston. Cy Young and the Roid Rocket have 192 each. 18 wins in two years is a very, very attainable goal. Wakefield is also just 11 wins shy of 200 wins in his career. This is another reachable milestone under the terms of this deal.
If there is one person I identify with Boston over the past 20 years, it is Tim Wakefield. He joined the squad in 1995, the first season after I moved to Boston post-college. I saw every game he pitched at Fenway. And all anyone could say was "How did Pittsburgh let this guy go?" He went 16-8 that year with a 2.95 ERA and finished third in the Cy voting, finishing behind Randy Johnson and Jose Mesa. Since then he has done everything that was asked of him, be it start, close or do long relief. He has always left money on the table in his contract negotiations, a decision highlighted by the famous perpetual team option for $4M a year. He has been heavily involved in charity in the region. Wakes has always been a member of the team you could point out to your child and say "THAT is what a ballplayer should be like."
To me, Wakes is a much a part of this franchise's history and legacy as Doerr, Williams, Yaz, Rice, Fisk and the rest of the greats. Forget those two years in Pittsburgh; as far as I am concerned Tim Wakefield is a Boston lifer. And I truly pray that this contract allows him to take over the all-time wins total for the team.