Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

Boston Red Sox 2013 Offseason Tracker: David Ross

MCT

David Ross

Former team: Atlanta Braves

Position: Catcher

Contract: 2-year, $6.2 million

Projected role: Backup catcher

Boston’s signing of Davis Ross, an 11-year veteran, fills one of the team’s less-glaring holes: backup catcher. Ross played the previous four seasons in Atlanta backing up Brian McCann effectively; he accumulated 663 plate appearances and posted a .353 on-base percentage and a .463 slugging percentage. He’ll start the season sharing the catching duties with current Red Sox starter, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. If last year is indicative of anything, Ross probably won’t provide a drastic upgrade from Boston’s backup last year, Kelly Shoppach.

I’m not suggesting that Ross will replicate his 2012 season, but he’s a 35-year-old lifetime backup catcher – his ceiling has come and gone. However, Boston could do much worse than .256/.321/.449 for a backup catcher.

As I said, Ross will likely split time with the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia at catcher. Calling Saltalamacchia a switch-hitter is a bit disingenuous considering that just 13 percent of his plate appearances came from the right side last year. In 2011, 32 percent of his plate appearances were right handed, but his putrid .635 OPS from that side likely led to the precipitous drop in righty plate appearances the following season.

For whatever reason, I was under the impression that Ross, like so many other right-handed hitting backup catchers, hit left-handed pitching better than right-handed pitching. But this simply isn’t the case. Over the course of his career, his batting average and on-base percentage are slightly higher from the right side, but his slugging and OPS+ (the adjusted OPS based on the player’s ballpark and league) are higher from the left side. Ross may not hit much against righties anyway though, considering that Saltalamacchia plays exclusively against them.

A few quick thoughts on Saltalamacchia: After two full seasons with Boston, I feel the book on him is out. He’ll post solid power numbers for a catcher (41 home runs in two seasons), but he won’t provide much in terms of batting average (.222 last season) or on-base percentage (.288 in both seasons) and he had one of the worst caught stealing percentages last season by a catcher (.184).

Because Saltalamacchia doesn’t hit for a high average, reach base frequently or throw runners out often enough, I don’t the Red Sox should anoint him as their catcher of the future. In fact, I wouldn’t be totally shocked to see Ross have more plate appearances this season, if Saltalamacchia’s average and on-base percentage don’t increase and/or his power numbers fall off. I say this not because I view Ross as Boston’s catcher of the future, but mainly because I feel like they should treat this year as an evaluation year for the players that were retained in Boston’s mid-season fire sale last year. It’s possible that I’m being too harsh on Saltalamacchia, but if this is truly a rebuilding year for Boston — and I’m not sure it is — like so many are speculating, now would be the time for him to show improvement from his first two years. And if he does not improve, why include him in your plans for the future?

Getting back to Ross, overall, this isn’t an earth-shattering move. It won’t make Boston contenders, and it won’t make them cellar-dwellers either. In fact, his performance may dictate Boston’s record by no more than one win. And the decision whether to play him or Saltalamacchia regularly won’t have a drastic impact on the Red Sox’s feature either. So I guess this is my way of apologizing to all of you who just read 600-plus words on David Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Jackson Alexander can be reached at jtalexan@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @MDC_Alexander.

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