His first “decision diamond” for 2013 has arrived and by March 16th he needs to trade his very talented, but petulant, pitcher, Alfredo Aceves. The Sox GM could be passive aggressive and just release Aceves, but a pitcher that stepped in and saved 21 games for the team in 2012 and as a “swing man,” succeeded as a starter and closer, is live trade bait.
Alfredo’s antics may revive fans’ memories of former Red Sox players like Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Jimmy Piersall, and Manny Ramirez, but Aceves says his role model is Dennis “Walk on the Wild Side” Rodman.
If you listen to Ben long enough, you realize that his favorite word is discipline.
To demonstrate that he and his manager, Farrell, are “running the team” now, he must banish his truculent pitcher; he must send a message that there’s no room on his team for passive-aggressive resisters like Beckett or undisciplined ass clowns: to show he “has a pair” Cherington must make an example of Aceves.
During the off season Cherington adroitly assembled a roster of seasoned, professional players who are annoyed by a team mate that misbehaves like a rebellious teenager. Sure, Gomes will provide some comic relief in the clubhouse, but he knows when to jam the cup down the jock and focus on baseball.
Cherington’s role model for the 2013 Red Sox is Dustin “PLAY HARD, OR GO HOME!” Pedroia. Although he loves to be playful when he is interviewed, once the National Anthem is over, Pedroia sets the tone; he plays beyond his potential every game; he is the ultimate gamer; he always “leaves it all on the field.”
Cherington’s manager, John Farrell, foreshadowed the theme of discipline discussing Aceves on the ‘The Hot Stove Show’ on WEEI last November:
“I think the one thing that we’re going to hold ourselves accountable to is the way we play the game, the way we respect one another in our uniform and that we work each night as a unit…we’re trying to put together here, not only talented players but guys who are trying to play the game the right way. …” [http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/rob-bradford/2013/02/18/look-why-alfredo-aceves-still-red-sox]
CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdams has reported that the Red Sox would owe Aceves $440,000 of his $2.65 million salary if they released him before March 16th. If the Sox were to wait till March 27th to release him then they would awe Aceves $660,000.
But, why give away a half mill to Aceves, when Ben could get something in return in a trade?
If Aceves is trying to get traded to a team that will give him a shot at a rotation slot he is succeeding; there are several teams that would be glad to give him that opportunity: Cubs, Rockies, Twins, Padres, Royals, and Indians.
Years from now it will be remembered that Cherington took charge and “got rid of an adolescent ass clown pitcher” and nobody will be able to remember who the Sox got in the trade, but that is no reason to not wildly speculate about a trade.
Assuming he would be willing to take almost any Minor league prospect, probably a pitcher [not named Carpenter]– let’s see who these six teams might be willing to offer for Aceves.
CUBS: The little voice in their head might tell Theo and Ben that they should “screw the other GM” in a trade might have sewn the unconscious seed of mistrust already and Epstein is in re-build mode in Chicago, but, just for fun, let’s pick a pitching prospect: RHP, Pierce Johnson.
Baseball America lists him as the Cubs’ #6 prospect, but he does not make any of their individual Top 50 lists. [Callis, Cooper, Lingo, Manuel]. Minor League Baseball Analyst says he has the talent to be a regular in MLB, but just a 30% chance of making it. MLB Prospects is a bit more optimistic: “Assuming he stays healthy, Johnson shouldn’t take too long to get to the big leagues, with a ceiling as a strong middle of the rotation starter…ETA 2105.”
ROCKIES: Since Colorado is nowhere near “just one starter short of contention,” it is very unlikely they would trade a pitching prospect like #5 RHP Chad Bettis, #6 RHP Eddie Butler, #7 LHP Tyler Anderson, but they might be glad to ship off failed prospect LHP Tyler Matzek; he was the #11 pick in the 2009 ML Draft and was given a franchise record $3.9 million signing bonus. Right from High School, he was not mature enough to listen to instruction. He struggled in A-ball; the good news is he led the California League in Ks with 153; the bad news is he walked 95. For Aceves, his high ceiling makes him worthy of taking a flyer on him.
TWINS: Like the Rockies the Twins are nowhere near “just one starter short of contention,” so it is very unlikely they would trade a pitching prospect like #4 RHP Alex Meyer , or #5 RHP Kyle Gibson , or even #7 RHP, J.O. Berrios , but they might be willing to deal RHP Trevor May , who came from the Phillies with Vance Worley for Ben Revere. Once projected as a #2/3 starter, he has neither control nor command yet.
PADRES: San Diego is essentially all alone in the Second Division of the NL West and adding Aceves to their unsettled and unsettling rotation could only get them a few games closer to a .500 season. There are a group of promising prospects, including former Red Sox RHP Casey Kelley , who may make the Pobres competitive in a few years: 3b Jed Gyorko , RF Rymer Liriano , C Austin Hedges , 2b Cory Spangenberg  and 2012 Draft pick LHP Max Fried .
If the Failing Fathers want Aceves, Cherington might want to ask for former Reds’ prospect and USC RHP Brad Boxberger, who has four pitches and, if he can tighten up his control, could be a solid pen man, or even become a closer.
ROYALS: With the trade of Future Star Will Myers to Tampa for starters James Shields [#1] and Wade Davis [#4], Kansas City indicated that they believe they can compete for a Playoff slot in 2013 and that would make Aceves a good fit, just in case 34 year-old Jeremy Guthrie falters in the #2 slot.
- LHP [#6] Vanderbilt’s Sam Selman  can crank it to 98, but has control problems.
- RHP [#8] Jason Adam  has MLB rotation potential says BA.
- John Lamb, LHP [#11] was their top pitching prospect until he needed TJ surgery. He had the best change-up in the organization and has excellent control, but he may not be able to return to his pre-op FB speed 95.
INDIANS: With two former Sox in the rotation [1. Masterson, .5 Dice K], Aceves might be a perfect fit for Cleveland. Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez are credible at the top, but things go over a cliff at 3. Brett Myers, 4. Zack McAllister, 5. Daisuke Matsuzaka. Office pools in Cleveland will be betting on the arrival date of uber prospect Trevor Bauer. Aceves could oust one the three M boys from the rotation.
The Indians have three RHP prospects:
- Cody Allen  is their #4 prospect. He is projected as “a late-inning reliever” by Baseball America, but they also say his ceiling is as a MLB closer who could unseat Chris Perez.
- Mitch Brown #5  could be a #3 starter, “if he can refine his secondary pitches,” says BA.
- At #6 Danny Salazar is interesting, since he is MLB ready and could be a pen star with his “electric” power fastball. [BA]
Of the teams reviewed, the Royals and Indians are “all in” as Playoff contenders and most likely to be interested in Alfredo Aceves for their starting rotations.
But, no matter who he gets in return, it is vital for GM Cherington to show the team that he–not Larry Lucchino–is The Godfather now by ridding the team of a player who will not get with the program–Ben Cherington’s “Discipline Program.”