So Long, Kelly: Kelly Shoppach heads to Red Sox

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This offseason, the Rays declined Kelly Shoppach‘s 2012 option, and now it’s official that Shoppach will not be returning to the Rays now that he has signed a 1-year contract with the organization that drafted him, the Boston Red Sox. Let’s take a quick look back at Shoppach’s time in St. Pete before we officially start rooting against him as a member of the rival Sox.

In December of 2009, the Rays acquired Shoppach from the Cleveland Indians in exchange from a player to be named later who turned out to be Mitch Talbot. He was coming off a season in which he hit just .214, but with 14 doubles, 12 homers, 40 RBI, and a .335 OBP in 89 games while playing decent defense, and just two years before, he had a breakout season, hitting .261 with 27 doubles, 21 homers, 55 RBI, a .348 OBP, and a .517 SLG. The Rays hoped they could get a solid starting catcher to replace Dioner Navarro. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

Shoppach missed from mid-April to early June with meniscus surgery in his knee, and on the season he was very disappointing, opening the door for John Jaso. He hit just .196 with 9 doubles, 5 homers, 17 RBI, and a .308 OBP in just 63 games. He threw out just 17% of attempted basestealers. Especially considering Shoppach was making 2.25 million dollars, the Rays had to be very disappointed with what they got from him.

In 2011, even though Shoppach was making 3 million dollars, the Rays entered the season with Shoppach as the backup to John Jaso. But while Jaso had a horrible season, Shoppach gave the Rays a decent season. He wasn’t very good at all offensively, hitting just .176 with 3 doubles, 11 homers, 22 RBI, and just a .268 OBP in 87 games. But defensively, he was outstanding, posting a league-leading 41% CS%. Shoppach had his moments. We’ll always remember Game 1 of the ALDS, where Shoppach helped Matt Moore toss a gem to defeat the eventual AL champion Texas Rangers. Don’t forget that Shoppach hit 2 home runs and drove in 5 as well. He hit other key home runs and of course threw out tons of attempted basestealers.

Shoppach wasn’t anything great for the Rays the past two seasons, but he was a contributor as the Rays went on their playoff run in 2011. John Jaso was a complete disaster, but Shoppach provided some stability. He called good games, he played great defense, and he hit some key home runs. The Rays hope they can get a better situation at the catcher position in 2011, but you can’t undervalue what Shoppach gave the Rays in 2011.

Kelly, good luck in Boston- just don’t help Boston win any games.

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