Alfredo Aceves Needs A New Home

As the Red Sox disastrous 2011 season came to an end, Alfredo Aceves was one of the notable successes, besides of course the MVP-caliber performance turned in by Jacoby Ellsbury. Aceves made four starts and fifty-one appearances out of the bullpen with a combined 2.61 ERA in both roles. While his starts were nothing special (14 runs in 21 innings although 8 of those came in one start) his body of work for the season was beyond what the Red Sox could have hoped for. At the time, much was being made about the club “stealing” Aceves away from the Yankees who had released the swingman due to injury concerns before the season started.

By the end of 2012 the goodwill was gone. A 5.36 ERA 8 blown saves and fighting with the manager – even embattled Bobby Valentine – will do that. Aceves rushed to join a brawl in the WBC and then began 2013 with an ERA approaching 9. Aveces was optioned to AAA Pawtucket, but he may not be long for the Red Sox organization. If the Red Sox finally cut ties with the troubled right-hander, through trade or release, where might he find work?

Los Angeles

The Dodgers entered 2013 with one of the deepest starting rotations in baseball. Since Opening day however, that depth has been depleted. Aaron Harang was traded to the Seattle Mariners, Zack Greinke was injured in a brawl with Carlos Quentin, Chad Billingsly succumed to Tommy John surgery, Chris Capuano hurt his leg while running from the bullpen during the Greinke-Quentin melee and then aggravated the injury during his start, Stephen Fife was called up from AAA and lasted just 4.2 innings before going on the DL himself. It’s a good thing the Dodgers started with so much depth. Management is committed to winning, willing to spend (though Aceves is relatively inexpensive at about $2 million this season) and has a good working relationship with the Red Sox. Don’t expect another Allen Webster in return, but a transfer to warmer climates might help all parties.

Houston Has a Pitching Problem

No team entered the season with lower expectations than the Houston Astros. Through Sunday, Astros pitchers – starters and relievers – have combined for a 5.51 ERA. Aceves could help out of the ‘pen, spot start if needed, and generally be out of the spotlight.

Canada

The Blue Jays have not gotten off to the type of start that many expected. A rebuilt starting rotation has Mark Buehrle (6.35 ERA), Josh Johnson (6.86), and R.A. Dickey (4.50 ERA) joining Brandon Morrow (5.27 ERA) and not retiring as many batters as expected. J.A. Happ (3.86 ERA), brought in to compete for the fifth starter spot has been the only bright spot.

It’s only the end of April, but almost every team can use extra pitching depth. With his history of starting and relieving, Alfredo Aceves has the skills to contribute to many organizations. Including the Red Sox, if he can put himself back together.

Daniel Bard Headed Back to the Bullpen?

According to CSNNE’s Sean McAdam, the Red Sox front office is preparing for the possibility that Daniel Bard returns to the bullpen for 2012, rather than take a place in the starting rotation. Instead, Alfredo Aceves, the swingman from 2011, could complete his own transition from relief to starting.

In 12.2 innings this spring, Bard has allowed eleven hits and ten runs, good for a 7.11 ERA. The right hander, who posts  a career 2.80 K:BB walk, has not been as stingy with the base on ball this spring, handing out ten walks to just six strikeouts.

Aceves, on the other hand, has allowed only one run during his 9.0 Spring Training innings. On top of that he has struck out eight and has not issued a single walk.

Of course, Spring Training statistics are nearly meaningless: they represent a very small sample of work during a warm-up period that makes even talented veterans like Roy Halladay look foolish at times. In addition, the nature of spring games is such that pitchers are not put in and taken out of games as they are in the regular season, but to “get in work.” If a starter is pitching well, he will still be removed early in the game for the relief pitchers slated to go that day. Same with hitters. The Red Sox know this, so the question is why run the experiment if the highly flawed results will make a difference?

The Red Sox have not made an official announcement or confirmation of this report and perhaps a good outing by Bard next time will end all speculation if it appears he has settled into starting and found the comfort he normally has while relieving.

On the plus side, Aceves is a perfectly acceptable back of the rotation starter. If Daniel Bard cannot be better than that, for any reason, why mess with a good thing? In concert with Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon, a return to the bullpen by Bard would give the Red Sox a formidable trio to end ballgames.

And as a bonus, David Ortiz will probably be happy too.

Cross-posted from Sports of Boston