The current installment of the Doug Mirabelli era was short-lived, as the Red Sox release the catcher only months after signing him to a 1-year deal.
Of course, the main question on our minds is: who will back up Jason Varitek this season?
There are three serious candidates, none of whom is a staggering improvement over Mirabelli.
1) Kevin Cash
Pro: Nice defensive catcher, handled Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball very well in a brief trial last season.
Con: One of the worst offensive hitters in modern MLB history. I say this without the slightest modicum of hyperbole: Kevin Cash is the worst hitter in the Major Leagues. He has a career OPS+ of 26, and his numbers at the plate are pretty similar to those of Roger Clemens. Remember high school? Picture the best hitter on your high school team. Yeah, him. That guy could probably quit his job at AutoZone, grab a bat, and outhit Kevin Cash after years of dormancy.
2) Dusty Brown
Pro: Also good defensively. Experience handling Charlie Zink, Boston’s resident career minor league knuckleball artist. Probably a better hitter than Cash.
Con: Still not very good offensively. No Major League experience. Only 1 season above Single-A ball. Overmatched in very brief AAA trial last year.
3) George Kottaras:
Pro: Had a .900 OPS on the road in AAA last year. Most certainly the best hitter of the three. Possible heir to Varitek if he improves his game.
Con: Not known for his defense. Struggled at the plate in home games (oddly). No MLB experience.
A third and less likely option is that there might be a trade in place. Coco Crisp is still dangling out there, and could be moved between now and opening day in Japan.
This move seems a little odd to me, as Doug (even with all of his flaws) seems better fit to handle the job in 2008, more so than the three guys listed above. Kottaras is certainly the most promising of the three, but he could use another year in AAA, to help gauge whether or not he will be a suitable replacement for Varitek.