Last night, Alfredo Aceves’ third inning was just… incredible. Here’s what happened:
Walk, single, walk, walk, K, single, Balk, Sac Fly, infield Single, Error, Balk, error, groundout.
He failed to cover 1st base, threw a ball to home plate that was nearly 20 feet off the mark and even tossed a high, looping lollypop throw that almost didn’t get to Mike Napoli at 1B to finally end the inning and the suffering that came with it. The performance on it’s own was just the finale to a gradually emerging narrative that involves Aceves blowing leads, getting hit hard and making life far more difficult for his team than it has to be.
It was so bad, in fact – that many were left wondering if last night may be the final straw that breaks the camels back – and results in Aceves losing his spot on the roster.
In the past, Aceves proved to be a valuable asset. Not only was he virtually interchangeable in a variety of different roles within the bullpen, but his outstanding durability and ability to spot start made him one of the most versatile pitchers the Red Sox have had in the past decade. While it’s questionable as to whether his skill was ever average – the results, for the most part – were.
But in his 17.2 IP this year, there’s a lot of room for concern – not just on the diamond, but off of it as well. So far, all but one of Aceves’ 19 runs allowed this year have been earned. Many of those have come on the 6 HR’s he coughed up, which is halfway to his season total of 11 from last year and we’re not even out of April yet. Sprinkle in his BB/9 spike with a little velocity decline drizzled on top and it paints the picture of a player who’s on the precipice of a total collapse – if he’s not already there.
One could assume there’s a measure of luck in these numbers, but considering that Aceves’ historically low BABIP marks spiked last year and have yet to return to earth, it appears what limited skills Aceves had in the first place, are beginning to fail him.
And that’s just what’s happening on the field.
It’s one thing to put up with kooky behavior when someone is producing results; but when they’re not, it makes it almost impossible to justify the headaches. Headaches of course – that have become more and more frequent since last August.
In fact, here’s the run-down of Aceves’ antics since then:
• His three game suspension for ‘conduct detrimental to the team’ after storming into then-manager Bobby Valentine’s office demanding meetings with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington.
• His in-the-dugout ‘conversation’ with Dustin Pedroia in September of last season.
• Refusing to properly execute pitching drills during Spring Training that led to a mini-summit with Aceves’ agent Tim O’Connell and the Red Sox front office.
• His involvement in the Canada-Mexico brawl at the World Baseball Classic where Larry Walker accused him of ‘having the eyes of Satan’ amidst wide-spread calls to have him suspended.
And that’s just the stuff that’s been reported. As if that wasn’t enough, he got testy with beat writers last night when they pressed him on his poor performance. He blamed the wind, the rain, the air (even though he wore a short sleeved shirt), and even accused Bartolo Colon of digging a hole in the pitcher’s mound for him to fall into.
He even used umpire Hunter Wendelstedt’s small strike zone as an excuse. While Aceves was right about the tight strike zone, the umpire squeezed everyone last night and dare I say – even favored the Red Sox pitchers insofar as the pitch f/x charts are concerned. So there was that.
But then there was this:
Aceves, who had brutal night on mound, didn’t help self post. Blamed night on conditions, strikezone, asked of mates: “Why didnt they hit?”
— Sean McAdam(@Sean_McAdam) April 24, 2013
Some teammate, right? After an offseason where rebuilding a broken clubhouse culture was a priority, you’ve got to wonder how much longer he can get away with saying things like that. Even John Farrell was less than enthusiastic about defending Aceves last night, lamenting the pitcher’s ‘lack of focus’ and how hard it was ‘to figure out what you’re going to get out of Alfredo on a given day. “
At one point in time, Alfredo Aceves was an immensely important part of the Red Sox bullpen and was one of the better under-the-radar moves then-GM Theo Epstein managed to pull off. But now, the results aren’t nearly enough to justify the full-blown distraction that Aceves has become. When you take into account the fact that Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa and hopefully a healthy Franklin Morales are all available, probably better and have higher upside – it makes Aceves completely and totally expendable at this point.
Waive him, trade him, DFA him, whatever. Simply put, he’s probably not long for the roster right now and considering the way he’s pitching, the day he’s gone may come sooner than we think.