A Grain of Saltalamacchia

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A Grain of Saltalamacchia

When Bobby Valentine speaks, you always listen. But whether or not you believe him is an entirely different story.

Thats because sometimes Bobby V. seems to just say stuff for the sake of saying stuff. Just to make a headline. Just to hear himself speak. Just to I dont know sometimes hell deliver a quote and all you can do is shake your head, think Where the hell did that come from? and then move on like nothing ever happened.

For instance, there was the time in Spring Training when he pretended to criticize Derek Jeter for his flip in the 2001 ALDS. Or a few weeks back, when a Wednesday afternoon win in Baltimore had him dreaming of World Series glory. Or last Wednesday, when he said that Jarrod Saltalamacchia had turned into an All-Star.

"He's turned a big corner,'' Valentine said of Salty. "In the last couple of weeks, I've seen a player turn into an All-Star -- an absolute player who you can count on, who's got it. He's understands what's needed out of him and he's delivering it.

Honestly, when I originally heard that quote, I thought nothing of it. In fact, Im pretty sure I laughed: Yup, theres Bobby V., up to his old nonsense-spewing antics.

But a few days later, Im starting to think that maybe old Bobby V. is on to something.

Last night at Fenway, Saltalamacchia hit his 10th home run of the season, which not only makes him the second Sox player (after David Ortiz) to reach double digit dongs, but also gives him more homers than any catcher in baseball. Seriously. Hes now the Major League-leader. Hes also tied for third among MLB catchers with 10 doubles, ranks in the top 10 with 24 RBI and is hitting a wildly-respectable .281.

Sure, his .160 CS is one of the worst in the league, but given recent Red Sox history, thats not all on him. And hes made up for his lack of throwing guys out with his ability to earn the respect of this pitching staff. Hes found a rhythm with the delicate Josh Beckett, built a line of communication with the insane Alfredo Aceves and really just taken control of the situation.
Sure, maybe hes not Jason Varitek, but for all the talk of how Varitek was an irreplaceable cog in the pitchers success, and how no one in the world could call a game or manage a staff like Tek! Saltys made a pretty seamless transition into the big chair. All while making a level of noise with his bat that we hadnt heard from Tek in years.
When you look around the American League, you have to assume that Joe Mauer whether he deserves it or not will be voted in as the starting All-Star catcher. And even though hes having a slightly down year, Mike Napoli is another guy who can probably book his flight to Kansas City.

After that, theres one catchers spot left, and right now, I dont see how anyone is more deserving than Salty. I think its time to actually, and unbelievably, consider the fact that Jarrod Saltalamacchia might be headed to the All-Star game.

At which point Valentine will probably declare him a candidate for MVP.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Dombrowski on trading top prospects: 'You go for it'

Dombrowski on trading top prospects: 'You go for it'

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Red Sox are coming off a 94-win season and a division title.
     
MORE ON THE TRADE

Their starting rotation is solid, if not without some question marks. The team's core of young position players is the envy of the industry.
     
So, why, then, did Dave Dombrowski make the kind of gamble he did when he shipped arguably the best prospect in baseball and the organization's top pitching prospect to land White Sox lefthander Chris Sale?
     
"I think it's a situation where when you have a chance to win,'' explained Dombrowski, "you want to give yourself every opportunity to do so, if you can improve your club. And for us, this deal improved us.

"I'm not sure, for instance, if we didn't get (Drew) Pomeranz that we would have won our division. But any time you get there, short of just a total giveaway of your system or making moves that don't make us smart, I think you go for it.''
     
Dombrowski noted that most of his acquisitions -- Sale, Pomeranz, David Price, Craig Kimbrel -- are under the team's control for another three years.

"In baseball,'' he said, "four years down the road is an eternity in many ways. So you need to take advantage of that opportunity. Nothing's guaranteed in life; if you make these moves, it doesn't guarantee that you're going to win.
     
"But I think you just keep taking a chance. You keep going for it as much as you possibly can and hopefully, it works for you someday.''
     
The moves he's made to date, said Dombrowski, have all made the Red Sox "a little better.''
     
He further noted that with a young core of everyday players and prospects such as Rafael Devers and Sam Travis, "I think we're still strong for many, many years.''