Vicente Padilla is a better reliever than starter for the Red Sox


The Red Sox have finally signed Vicente Padilla to a minor league contract worth $1.5 million should he make it back to the majors according to the Boston Herald.  There were rumors late last week that Padilla had left his home in Nicaragua to fly to Boston and take a team physical, with a contract pending.  Only to hear that there wasn’t a lot of truth behind, simply that the two sides were talking.  Well it’s now official as much as our hate for the Yankees; Padilla is a member of the Red Sox.

The signing of Padilla, a former Dodger and veteran of 13 MLB seasons, joins what is becoming a very crowded group vying for the fifth and final starting pitcher spot in the rotation.  Padilla joins Aaron Cook, Carlos Silva among others who will try and secure the number five spot for the Red Sox when spring training ends.  But maybe the rotation isn’t the best place for Padilla.  Maybe the bullpen is where the veteran could best serve his new club. 

When he last pitched in the majors, it was for the LA Dodgers and his role was out of the bullpen.  He had briefly been the closer for the Dodgers before giving way to Jonathan Broxton.  When he was forced to have neck and elbow surgery, ending his season after appearing in just 9 games, it leaves much speculation if he can return to his former ways.

He was a starter for seven years before becoming a spot starter and reliever throughout his years in Philadelphia, Texas and LA. If he can stay healthy and prove he can once again compete at the elite level, then the Red Sox bullpen could use him.

Currently the number five spot in the rotation is up for grabs between Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook and Alfredo Aceves.  While Aceves in my mind is more valuable in the pen, it looks as though he’s going to be given a shot as a starter.  Silva and Cook could become the number five guy, with the other being used a spot starter, especially early in the season to help avoid fatigue on the arms of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard later in the season.

Padilla has the most recent experience out of the bullpen.  Silva was a reliever in his second year but then transformed to a starter which is where he was most effective.  Cook also spent time in the pen back in 2003, but like Silva was a better pitcher when he was starting.  So, the bullpen needs arms and putting an experienced one out there is more valuable to the club than giving him a chance to start games.

With the current stockpiling of starting pitchers that Ben Cherington is acquiring, Padilla not only has his work cut out for him but isn’t guaranteed a spot on the roster.  Technically none of the recently added arms are guaranteed a spot, but if I had put money on who will emerge as the number five guy, I’d take Cook, Silva then Padilla in that order.

Put Aceves back in the bullpen where he’s most effective and let Padilla learn from him.  Besides, deep down many Red Sox fans are hoping the club signs Roy Oswalt, a move that would end all this speculation of who’s going to fill out the rotation.

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