After Tuesday night’s 13-0 trouncing at the hands of the Oakland A’s, the time has clearly come for the Boston Red Sox to make a decision about what to do with mercurial pitcher Alfredo Aceves.
It’s not just that he struggled in the game—that happens to everyone from time to time—but more the way he reacted afterwards that should give them pause as to whether he should be a part of the team going forward. While he blamed some of the typical things for his struggles (the weather, the size of the strike zone), more troubling was the fact that he told the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham that his teammates were to blame.
“Also [Oakland] got hacks,” he said, “Why do we not hit?”
Unfortunately for Aceves, even if the Sox had hit, it still probably wouldn’t have been enough. The man ironically nicknamed “Ace” had allowed eight runs before recording the second out in the fourth inning, balking twice and committing an error in a comically bad third inning in which he allowed six runs.
Aceves has become more of a headache than the versatile swing man he once was. It feels so long since he burst onto the scene with the 2011 Sox, going 10-2 out of the bullpen and becoming a cult hero in the process.
It’s one thing if he is producing; a team can condone having a loose cannon around if he is a reliable performer on the field. Aceves, however, has not been reliable for over a year.
It’s time for the Sox to say “enough” to the headaches associated with this eccentric right-hander and cut him loose once and for all.
Manager John Farrell has himself admitted that Aceves is unreliable at best, telling ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes that “it’s hard to figure out what you're going to get out of Alfredo on a given day.” It may not actually be as hard as Farrell thinks, although the statistics show that the output is likely not going to be good.
Since Aug. 23 of last season, a time frame spanning 17 appearances (including three starts) and 40.0 innings, Aceves is 1-4 with a 9.00 ERA and 1.93 WHIP. If you include all of 2012, his numbers are only marginally better (101.2 innings, 3-11, 5.93 ERA, 1.46 WHIP). This is not how a viable MLB pitcher performs.
It would be somewhat excusable, though, if Aceves was a good teammate who was simply going through a prolonged rough stretch. That is the kind of guy you want to keep in the organization as long as possible.
He is anything but that.
Aceves probably should have been cut after showing up former manager Bobby Valentine on the field last September, and the fact that he wasn’t is purely a testament to how little respect the organization had for their lame-duck manager. After the incident, where he was lobbing the ball in batting practice during spring training, Aceves showed that he clearly hadn’t learned anything from last season.
His beefing with teammates isn’t exactly new, either. Last year, he got into a war of words with Dustin Pedroia over a series of ridiculous pickoff throws to second and again showed how little he has learned with Tuesday night’s questioning of his teammates’ offensive output.
The Sox will have a perfect opportunity to cut ties with Aceves this weekend. With Daniel Bard being promoted to the MLB roster to shore up the bullpen and John Lackey returning Sunday, the Sox will have filled both pitching roles Aceves could have held. Even if Bard fails to perform, the imminent arrivals of Franklin Morales and/or Craig Breslow mean that there is simply no room for Aceves.
His value to the 29 other teams could not get any lower, either. While it would be preferable that he be traded, there is no market for a reliever who cannot get anyone out and cannot get along with his teammates.
Severing all ties with him now will be a good thing not just from a baseball perspective but also will remove one of the few unlikable players from the resurgent 2013 Red Sox.