So Long, Kelly: Kelly Shoppach heads to Red Sox

By Robbie Knopf

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.