Fear and loathing of the Red Sox bullpen

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Jun 24, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Members of the Boston Red Sox bullpen dispute a fly out caught by Seattle Mariners left fielder Dustin Ackley (13, foreground) during the third inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Japanese for the Puffer fish is Fugu, which is a rare ocean delicacy that if prepared incorrectly can kill the diner. A sure risk when you order it and that is very similar to the Red Sox bullpen. The presentation may be delectable and tasty or it could be poison. With the Red Sox bullpen it is poison. The bullpen is considered the last stop of that train to disappointment on Fangraphs. A solid “We’re number 15 in AL!” But it is even a more depressing situation as the Red Sox bullpen is last among all MLB teams with a -1.4 WAR.

Some current occupants of the bullpen are keepers since there is a level of proven value. Others are barely keepers, but do have some possible value, some have a level of reliability that is worth an extended look and the remainder are best jettisoned for better options. The free agent market provides the usually collection of former talents on the decline, potential nuggets – gold and not the kind rabbits leave behind – and some solid bullpen citizens that would be worthy replacements.

The philosophy of pitching has changed considerably with the focus being placed on bullpen depth, competence and versatility. Seven of the top ten bullpens made it into the playoffs, so that emphasis is front and center. The ongoing issue is the need for an ace, yet Red Sox starters were twelfth in MLB and sixth in the AL with a WAR of 12.1.