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.