Rotoworld said it all tonight.
After entering a tie game, Blaine Neal gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning to take the loss for the Red Sox tonight. Neal could be facing a demotion. His 9.00 ERA makes it unlikely that he’ll be claimed off waivers. If he does go, Jason Kershner would be a candidate to replace him. Another option would be to follow the Royals’ lead and call up Cla Meredith, their best relief prospect, from Double-A.
Neal has been effective, then ineffective. His consistency is not good enough, and this balloons his ERA to 9.00 making it likely he could clear waivers, so I have no problem demoting him. He can still be a quality pitcher, but just needs more time. So send him down to Triple-A, and while Jason Kershner is a pretty good candidate (27 years of age, has three years MLB experience – not a full three years – this year in Pawtucket he has 10 IP with a 2.70 ERA … 9 H 3 ER 2 BB 6 K) … I want Cla Meredith. As Brian said today,
And closer Olise (Cla) Meredith continues his assault on AA. In 14 IP over 11 appearances, he’s allowed 0 runs, 5 hits, 2 BB, and 12 Ks. He already has 8 saves.
Let us look at Cla a bit more. Cla was mentioned here courtesy of Cuzittt, who said that:
Cla Meredith: The 6th pick out of Virginia Commonwealth, the relief specialist took 13 games (and 15 1/3 innings) of scoreless relief before getting the bump to Sarasota. Cla went 1-0 with 6 saves, giving up 8 hits, 3 walks, 2 HBPs and striking out 18.) … got a bump from Augusta … and while he was not as perfect as in Augusta, he did quite well in 16 games. Cla went 0-2 with 12 saves and a 2.20 ERA. Cla struck out 16 in 16 1/3 innings, while allowing 15 hits and 3 walks.
I also mentioned him here, when I said that “in the ninth inning, Cla Meredith came on to get the final out after Kason Gabbard got into a jam. I really like Meredith’s windup, it’s like a slingshot. He’s going to be filthy.”
Thanks, Baseball America!
As we can see, Cla is unhittable. And it’s not like we haven’t brought someone up from AA before who has failed. The last person up from AA that we had was this dude who gave us a 4.87 ERA in 44.1 IP that year.
SoxProspects has this to say about Cla (seventh best Sawx ‘spect): “Meredith has great movement on his pitchers and is very tough against righties. Makes use of a low 90s fastball and a slider. He was used as VCU’s closer in 2004. Boston is grooming Meredith as a closer.”
Cla can break-in as a nice middle reliever this year (and could be sent down once Miller/Schilling/Wells returns from the DL) and then next year take on more responsibility and start being groomed by Foulke. If all progresses well, Cla could be the setup guy for Foulke in 2007, and if we don’t resign Foulke, could close in 2008 at the tender age of 23. Other great closers have followed this lineage – Mariano Rivera and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez, for instance.
Why Kershner when you can have Cla? It’s easy to send Cla back down, and he’s probably ready now, anyways. People talk about burning an option year, but honestly, you can’t put a ton of stock in option years, plus it’s not as if it won’t be burned next year or later this year. We need to win, and to win, we need the best people available, and the best reliever available in the minor leagues is Cla Meredith.