The Red Sox signed catcher Kelly Shoppach on Tuesday, making many wonder whether Jason Varitek's career in Boston could be coming to an end. Sure, the veteran backstop has become a backup with the team the past two seasons, but there's no denying the tremendous career he's had.
And because of his success, Varitek will always possess legendary status amongst Sox fans. But is Tek's resume good enough to put him in Cooperstown?
He was, after all, considered one of the game's best catchers for a period of time, and his game-management skills have been invaluable. The Red Sox hadn't had a captain since Jim Rice in 1989 when entering the 2005 season, but Varitek's leadership, grit, professionalism and impact on the game made him worthy of the honor — an honor with which he guided the Sox to another World Series title in 2007.
Sure, Varitek might not be as Hall-worthy as Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench or Carlton Fisk, but he does hold the edge in a few major offensive categories (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, RBIs, runs scored) against a handful of current Hall of Fame catchers.
Varitek's a career .256 hitter who's hit 193 home runs and has 757 RBIs. While those aren't eye-popping numbers, they're very respectable having come during a period when catchers were far from the biggest offensive threat in a lineup.
Tek earned three All-Star selections in his 15 seasons, and was the centerpiece of one of the most lopsided trades in Red Sox (and major league) history — he arrived with Derek Lowe in exchange for Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997.
The 39-year-old won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in 2005, and has the most postseason home runs by a catcher (11) in major-league history. He's also played in more postseason games for the Red Sox than any other player in team history — highlighted, of course, by his two World Series titles.
And when it comes to the Sox pitching staff over the years, Tek's importance is immeasurable — although the major-league record four no-hitters he's caught is certainly an impressive figure.
Is all of this enough for a Hall nod, though?