|Combative pitcher Alfredo Aceves had a 2012 that mirrored the club as a whole.|
Given his antics, it is a mild surprise that the club and Alfredo Aceves have agreed to a contract and avoided arbitration. The Yankees didn't non-tender Aceves because he couldn't pitch. The Yankees didn't think Aceves was worth the trouble.
Despite the fact that Aceves has spent the past two years in the pen, save the occasional spot start, Aceves still likely fancies himself a starting pitcher. After watching some of the salad tossed up by Red Sox hurlers the past two years, it's easy to understand why. Last spring it was Aceves who broke the news that Daniel Bard had made the Red Sox rotation, not the manager or general manager. Aceves had likely just been told that he lost the competition to Bard and was upset because he had had a better Spring. If it really was a competition to make the rotation, in his mind clearly he deserved to be in the rotation. Let's not forget that Aceves was kept in the bullpen, while the Red Sox rotation imploded in September 2011. Perhaps if Aceves had not broken into the Major Leagues with the Yankees he would be established as an MLB starting pitcher by now, instead of having only nine career starts in five years.
With Andrew Bailey injured late last Spring, Aceves spent most of the year as the Red Sox closer. Transitioning from a multi-inning mid relief role, to closer Aceves' stuff played up in shorter stints. His fastball which typically sat in the low 90s with sink, was up to the mid 90s. He still used his four pitch mixed that he honed as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues. Aceves is not afraid to throw any pitch in any count, and shakes off the catcher as often as any pitcher I can remember.
After a terrible April, where Aceves had a 10.29 ERA, Aceves grew into the closers role as the season went along. Bobby Valentine was not afraid to take advantage of Aceves' ability to go multiple innings, as Aceves finished the season with 84 innings. Perhaps it was that workload, Aceves' insistence on throwing every day, or some combination of the two that caused Aceves ware down badly in August and September. He lost his closing job to Andrew Bailey when Bailey finally returned from injury. After losing the role, Aceves was suspended by Bobby Valentine for "conduct detrimental to the team."
The Red Sox rotation appears set with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, John Lackey, and Felix Doubront. Rubby De La Rosa had already broken in with the Dodgers before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Allen Webster also acquired in the Megadeal could be ready to contribute by the middle of the 2013 season.
Likewise in the bullpen Joel Hanrahan has already been named the closer, while Bailey figures to the the 8th inning setup man. Returning lefty Craig Breslow and free agent signing Koji Uehara will allow John Ferrell to match up in the 7th inning, or 8th if either Hanrahan or Bailey is unavailable.
Aceves figures to return to the role where he had great success in 2011 as the long man who enters the game in the 5th or 6th inning. Few clubs have the luxury of a multi-inning, long-reliever anymore. If a team's starters pitch deep into games while the relievers at the back end are effective, the long-man can go a long time without seeing the mound. Clubs have reacted by adding another short reliever so managers can play more platoon matchups, and fans are subjected to more interminable pitching changes. When a long man is needed, clubs will burn through their entire bullpen, and after the game frequently send guys down to the minors for the sole purpose of bringing up a fresh arm. Fortunately for Aceves, the Red Sox rotation may be set, but there still figures to be plenty of work for him in the middle innings if recent history is any indication.
Follow me on Twitter @JChalifour Jason Chalifour 1/20/2013 02:02:00 PM Tweet