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

Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

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Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal ignited a local firestorm when he made a seemingly off-hand comment a few days ago that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Red Sox fired John Farrell this year. (He quickly added he also "wouldn't be surprised" if Farrell stayed on and led the team to the A.L. East title this year, but that got scant mention.)

Today, however, Rosenthal expounded on Farrell and the Sox in a lengthy column on foxsports.com. While acknowledging the team's injuries and beyond-the-manager's-control inconsistencies (in the starting rotation and with the offense), he also ominously added, "The excuses for the Sox, though, go only so far — all teams deal with injuries, and not all of them boast $200 million payrolls. Other issues also have emerged under Farrell . . . "

Farrell, even when he won the 2013 World Series as a rookie manager, was not popular in all corners of the clubhouse. Some players, but not all, believe that he does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media when the team is struggling, sources say. Some also question Farrell’s game management, talk that exists in virtually every clubhouse, some more than others.

And then he mentioned two leadership problems:

The first occurred during the Red Sox’s prolonged dispute with the Orioles’ Manny Machado. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, after Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head, shouted across the field to Machado, 'it wasn’t me,' then told reporters that it was 'definitely a mishandled situation,' without mentioning Barnes or Farrell by name . . . 

The second incident occurred last Saturday, when Farrell engaged in a heated exchange with left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the dugout . . . [Pomeranz's] willingness to publicly challenge Farrell, in an exchange captured by television cameras, offered another indication that the manager and some of his players are not always on the same page.

Hmm.

Rosenthal's piece comes at a time when some of Farrell's harshest local critics are more or less giving him a pass, instead blaming Dave Dombrowski's flawed roster construction for the Sox' early season struggles , , , 

But there has been speculation hereabouts on whether or not Farrell has control of the clubhouse . . . 

Now that Rosenthal has weighed in, that sort of talk should increase.

In the end, Rosenthal makes no prediction on Farrell's future other than to conclude "If Dombrowski senses a change is necessary, he’ll make a change." 

But one prediction that can be made: The should-Farrell-be-fired? debate, which raged at unrealistic levels last year when the Red Sox won the division, isn't going to end anytime soon.