Brad Penny Released

The Red Sox released veteran starter Brad Penny late Wednesday night. While there may be some cheers in Red Sox Nation today, we can all collectively say good bye to that Boston rotation depth.

Another poor decision by the Red Sox front office. Let's just hope that Buchholz and Tazawa can pick up the slack.

Analysis inside...

Red Sox starting pitcher Brad Penny was released late Wednesday night, according to the Red Sox official website.
While Penny has struggled at times in the Sox rotation, he possessed good peripheral numbers (6.08 K/9, 2.87 BB/9, 4.48 FIP ERA) that suggest he was much more effective than his ERA claims him to be.
Penny was never hit as hard as many attest. His 19.2% line drive percentage and 9.4 home run per fly ball percentage reveal that he was a good pitcher who was perhaps more than a bit unlucky.
Penny fell victim to a very poor stranded runner rate of 64.4% and equally poor defense, which together contributed to his poor ERA.
This move, as well as the decision to release John Smoltz, raises questions about the decision making in the Red Sox front office.
Given the alternatives in the starting rotation, Brad Penny should never have been moved to the bullpen. He is a quality pitcher with a better track record than either Clay Buchholz and Junichi Tazawa, who are now firmly entrenched as starters number 4 and 5.
In addition, the fact that Penny requested a release did not mean the Red Sox needed to yield to his request. Smoltz, too, did not have to be released.
While it is yet to be seen whether Smoltz had requested a release or not, it is certainly plausible that he may have after losing his rotation spot.
There was no justifiable reason for Boston to release the veteran, especially since the last 2 spots in the bullpen have become a revolving door.
The Red Sox rotation depth is now caput. There are now just two backups for Tazawa, Buchholz, and injury – two poor backups in Matsuzaka and Bowden.
While the Red Sox have received a significant boost in Wakefield returning, they are in a very precarious position after losing two veteran starters – one effective (Penny), and one with promise (Smoltz).
Despite his many detractors, Penny will still be an effective starter for the rest of the season on some other team. As a league average pitcher, he is a much better fit for the fourth rotation slot than either Buchholz or Tazawa.
Consider me skeptical, at best, of the Red Sox recent moves. While this move isn’t enough to keep them out of the playoffs, it certainly doesn’t help matters with a month to go in a very tight Wild Card race.
And if the Red Sox are fortunate enough to get to the ALCS, is ANYONE comfortable with Tazawa or Buchholz in Game Four?
Like I have said in the past, I don’t agree with many of the Red Sox moves.
Chalk this one up in the NO column.

Categories: Brad Penny John Smoltz Quick Post

8 Responses to “Brad Penny Released” Subscribe

  1. Minor August 27, 2009 at 12:11 PM #

    I quite agree with this assessment. Penny has the stuff and if he can find some command he will provide a boost to a contender. I would have preferred to see him remain in the rotation at the expense of Tazawa, despite his positive early returns.

  2. Evan August 27, 2009 at 12:53 PM #

    I actually disagree. Penny has been a joke most of the year for us. Peripherals aside, he simply hasn't been contributing and I've grown sick of watching him pitch. He never goes deep in games and his fastball, while quality, is straight with his secondary stuff very poor.
    With Dice-K on the way back and Buchholz really "rightening" the ship, I had no interest watching Penny any longer.

  3. August 27, 2009 at 1:26 PM #

    I agree that Penny was unlucky, but there's no doubt he was also just streaky, and was on the wrong end of that streak currently. He had a pretty good stretch from late May through mid-July, but he also hasn't pitched more than 6.1 innings the entire year, and had only 2 out of 7 quality starts since the All Star break.
    From watching him, his fastball was noticeably straighter the past month, and his confidence in his curveball seemed to be waning.
    I think the AL just caught up to him, as pretty much every AL team he faced more than once did significantly better the next time(s) they faced him.
    At least with Tazawa opposing teams have an incomplete scouting report, which can definitely yield a lot of early success. And with Buchholz you have a bigger potential for dominance than with Penny, with the added benefit of giving Clay the extra MLB experience.

  4. SamR August 27, 2009 at 1:50 PM #

    I'd take Buch in Game 4 over Penny in a second. Penn might be more consistently average, but in the playoffs average doesn't cut it anymore. At least with Clay, you have a chance for a dominating preformance. I agree with your questions over releasing Smoltz so quickly, without giving him a chance in the BP. As for Penny, I might've kept him as a 6th man down in the minors. But if he didn't want to be there than it probably would've been pointless. Can you imagine Penny getting LESS motivated? Scary thought. It was either him or Tazawa down to the minors. I probably would've chosen the latter but this doesn't bother me much.

  5. Wooden U. Lykteneau August 27, 2009 at 2:41 PM #

    Get back to us when Smoltz beats a major-league lineup in a hitter-friendly park.

  6. marcos August 27, 2009 at 2:58 PM #

    I'd rather have no depth than to have pitcher like Penny throwing away important games. Plus let's be honest he wasn't going to make the Sox's potential playoff roster, in fact I think the Sox would not make the playoffs if they would've kept pitching him. I'd rather have hard throwing Daniel Bard pitching in the playoffs. I'm pretty sure the Sox never planned on adding Penny to their potential playoff roster. So the decision was a nobrainer. The Sox aren't going to let the less than 1 million dollars still owed to Penny, jeopardize their chances.

  7. James August 27, 2009 at 6:25 PM #

    It ever occur to you that one of Penny or Smoltz was signed to buy time for Buchholz to be ready? Penny is all fastball and might, MIGHT have better success in the NL like Smoltz so letting him go was the right move. I do believe that Smoltz could have been effective if he stuck around but it would have been early next season if at all. It is a lot to ask somebody of his age coming off injury to pitch in the AL never mind the AL East.

  8. Mike Silver August 27, 2009 at 7:53 PM #

    Despite our differing opinions, this is a great conversation to have. And, I love the enthusiasm for the young pitchers.
    I think people need to keep in mind a few things, however.
    First, the Brad Penny of 2009 is not very different from the Brad Penny of 2007, when he posted a 3.03 ERA and 3.63 FIP and people were IN LOVE with him. He throws the fastball with the same frequency and movement as 2007, and has walked fewer batters this year, and hasn't been hit hard.
    Still, I can't blame people for being tired of poor results and wanting to try someone else.
    But this discussion is about more than Penny, its about how the team's lack of other options makes this move such a bad one.
    A quick synopsis of the replacements:
    Daisuke Matsuzaka: Will be returning from a shoulder injury and was absolutely horrendous while active this season. He's never been better than Penny when healthy either, including 2008, with is astronomical walk rates. In short, he's far from a sure thing.
    Clay Buchholz: Got shelled for 7 earned against Chicago. 5.02 ERA, 5.32 FIP. Terrible walk rate, below average K rate. Doesn't belong in the majors. Not yet, anyway.
    Junichi Tazawa: Just got hit hard, again. 5.09 FIP BEFORE tonight. Not getting swings and misses, not hitting the strike zone. Also not ready for the majors, yet.
    Michael Bowden: Was decent in AAA, might be good enough to get by in the rotation, but then the Sox-Yanks blowout happened. Not dependable.
    None of these four options are dependable. So, the Sox are really rolling the dice in expecting two of them to be good enough to hold rotation spots for a playoff team.
    The fourth AND fifth rotation spots may be a revolving door the rest of the year. Penny had a bad wrap in Boston. He was better than most believed.
    If this were July, pitching would be the #1 need on this team.
    Again, I believe that Penny should never have been removed from the rotation, though I can't blame people for being tired of him. Still, he is NOT a player that should be released. We may need him again before all is said and done.