Red Sox reclamation project for 2015: Alexi Ogando


American Pickers, Antiques Roadshow, various storage wars and the inevitable copycat pawn shows have proliferated the follow the leader mentality of television. Another man’s (or woman’s) trash is another man’s treasure. Those hidden gems that are, in reality, few and far between. Baseball and the Boston Red Sox are no different. The concentration primarily focuses on pitching.

Luis Tiant was an incredible success and then failure and then back to square-one – success. In 1968 Tiant led the AL in both wins and ERA and the following season, led the league again – only in losses. Traded to the Twins and eventually landing in Boston, where he was 1-7. It appeared over.

The following season – to pull a line from Casablanca – was the start of a beautiful friendship. Three 20 win seasons, a total of 122 Boston wins and a legend in Boston who may just have won over Yoan Moncada.

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Tim Wakefield appeared finished, but came to Boston and won 186 games doing just about everything asked for by a pitcher.

Some make a short stay such as two-time Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen. Saberhagen’s arm had been thread bare, yet he had two respectable seasons before the hanging chad finally fell apart. Other’s did little. The risk to return is rather low when it is pitchers whose arms have extensive wear and tear.

Jack Billingham won 145 MLB games and just one in Boston. Juan Marichal, a Hall of Famer, did little in a career tail-end appearance. Same with fellow HOF member Tom Seaver. And, in 2009 what were the Red Sox going to do with all the starters now that Brad Penny and John Smoltz were on-board? By September it was Paul Byrd time.

All around spring training are the stories of players – and especially pitchers – attempting to hang on and return to past glories and resuscitate their careers. The Red Sox prime candidate is Alexi Ogando.

Ogando was once the real sparkle in Texas Rangers eyes. Hard throwing and a respectable starter with the proverbial high plateau. Then, the crash. Ogando has the usual storyline of injuries that have induced poor performance – at least that’s the hope of GM’s taking the risk.

In 2011 Ogando burst into the rotation for Texas and became an All-Star. Finishing up 13-8 in 29 starts with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Ogando also posted a FIP of 3.65. Despite a decline in the second half of 2011 the lanky 6′ 4″ right-hander from the Dominican appeared, at age 27, on the verge of being a force out of the bullpen or as a starter.

In 2012 Ogando worked 57 games out of the bullpen and went 2-0 with an ERA of 3.27 and a WHIP that was a very impressive 1.00. The 2013 season saw two-way duty between the rotation and the bullpen and Ogando checked in with a 3.11 ERA and WHIP of 1.23.

In 2014 Ogando worked out of the Texas bullpen and finished 2-3 with an ERA of 6.88. Ogando’s WHIP was 1.92 and he did managed to accumulate one save. A FIP of 3.81 does stand out as a positive. Texas was not interested. But Boston was.

In camp Ogando has been showing the one real plus he has in his pitching arsenal – a fastball that has both velocity (97MPH) and movement. With a staff that lacks in the pitching power department this draws attention. A nice hard tossing set-up whom can make a Koji appear a bit more confusing.

The talent has been there in the past. The numbers for 2010-2013 show that. The gamble is will that previous performance return? The Red Sox are betting it will. If that happens the Red Sox reclamation project for 2015 may join the more successful ones of the past.

*** Statistics provided by baseball-reference