After three very effective years in the pen as a set up man and sometimes closer, Bard was slotted this spring as a starter in the aftermath of Tommy John surgery that sidelined both Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey. He tanked, pure and simple. There’s no other way to put it. Before being sent to the minors to essentially learn how to pitch again – and one can only pray get some serious sports psychology counseling – Bard was 5-6 with a 5.24 ERA. The stats don’t tell the entire story. In the end before he was sent to Pawtucket, Bard simply couldn’t find the plate. He walked a lot of batters and beaned a bunch too, sometimes in the same inning. He was in essence the 2000′s version of Steve Blass.
Alfredo Aceves has been the Gumby of the Red Sox pitching staff, bending and stretching as Bobby Valentine has needed. He can spot start, rotation start, set up and – as it turns out – close…when he wants to. Aceves is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. He’s normally a quiet professional who steps up and does what is asked of him, usually pretty well to very well. This year has been different. Gumby appears to be at his breaking point.
First, he bitched when Bobby V gave him the nod as the closer after scheduled closer Andrew Bailey injured his thumb in the spring and was out for nearly the entire year, saying it wasn’t a good fit. Then he got in the groove as the closer in the first half of the season and became the man.
After the All-Star break he lost steam, blew saves (eight and counting) and his behavior became more erratic. Finally, 10 days ago when Bailey returned and Valentine justifiably inserted him into a closing assignment to get work at the end of a lost cause season, he’d had enough.
Aceves flipped out in the bullpen and then again in Valentine’s office, garnering him a three game suspension. In retrospect, a four-game suspension would have been better. Her returned against the Angels Tuesday night, blew a save and took a 6-5 loss. Aceves record is 2-9 with a 4.61 ERA.
Two players, two different stories. The one similarity is that the majority of their problems have been self inflicted and both appear to be head cases. Bard is young and perhaps salvageable. He’s a good guy. Fans want to see him succeed. As both pop psychologist and armchair pitching coach, it’s easy to say that Bard never should have been moved out of his setup role so I’ll say it. Bard should never had been moved out of his setup role.
Aceves is a once stalwart teammate and dirt dog now that now appears to have a severe case of Beckett-itis. Do I have to draw a picture to show where this ends? Deal him in the off season. Continue to send the message that if you want to be an underperforming malcontent, you can take your BS and your act elsewhere.
Feeling down ‘n’ dirty, feeling kinda mean
I’ve been from one to another extreme
This time I had a good time, ain’t got time to wait
I wanna stick around ’till I can’t see straight
Fill my eyes with that double vision
No disguise for that double vision
Ooh, when it gets through to me, it’s always new to me
My double vision gets the best of me
- Double Vision, Foreigner