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.