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David Brown

What can Francona do to fix the Red Sox's catching situation?

Big League Stew

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Whether out of loyalty or prudence or both, Red Sox manager Terry Francona has supported Jason Varitek all season, despite a noticeable decline in production.

That's a kind way of saying Varitek, who's wearing the "C" more like Hester Prynne than Cam Neely lately, has been terrible as a hitter. His .672 OPS was in John Buck territory, and not much better than Red Sox backup Kevin Cash.

With the Fenway boos getting louder and, more importantly, the Red Sox possibly facing a 3-1 deficit in the ALCS, it might be time for a desperate measure by Francona. Because we at the Stew like to help in times of need, here are the top 10 suggestions we'd give Francona for replacing Varitek behind the plate.

Top 10 quick-fix alternatives for Jason Varitek

10. Carlton Fisk is a young 60.

9. A unique prize for the 50-50 raffle winner.

8. Varitek's expandable catcher's mitt can be expanded to roughly size of 6-foot male in a squat, but the ump will have to throw the ball back to the mound. (No, that's the way it has to be. Sorry.)

7. Take up Dioner Navarro on his good-faith offer to catch for both teams.

6. Assistance organization Baseball Teams Without (Pat) Borders can always help.

5. Hope Big Papi hits three homers and that no one notices the open wound behind home plate.

4. Backstop can be fashioned from unread copies of Stephen King's account of the '04 season. Would serve much better as a catcher than a book.

3. Isn't it about time Schilling made himself useful again?

2. Five words: Rich Gedman is still alive!

1. Won't need a catcher; Tim Wakefield can outhustle knuckleball to plate and catch himself.

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