The Boston Red Sox career of David Price has started off with frustration for fans, Price, and the team – just like with Lefty Grove
The sudden demise of David Price has caused rumblings for the Boston Red Sox as his signing was supposed to be rotation cement and not Jell-O. The job description is quite clear and all who follow baseball know just what a premier pitcher is supposed to do.
The Boston Red Sox pitching staff in 2015 was in total disarray with injuries, subpar performances and the utter lack of the once every five games shut down starter that has been designated “Ace” by those who know.
An ace is a breather in the rotation – the pitcher who will give seven solid innings or more and keep the opposition in a funk as they attempt to make the game less of an embarrassment than it usually is when the ace takes the hill.
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The offense knows a few runs could do the trick so a Mt. Helens type offensive explosion is not necessary. The manager can relax full well knowing complicated decisions are set aside for at least one day.
The bullpen enjoys the day except the closer who usually will be called upon to finish up and close the statistical book on the other team. The other bullpen occupants enjoy the day by exploring the stands for attractive females, engaging in practical jokes or catching a few winks.
The Red Sox ace has suddenly turned into a pitching sow’s ear and not the silk purse RSN so gleefully expected when the coffers were sprung open and 217 Million has been given to Price – who is fast becoming Matt Clement. Price will certainly sparkle as a 14 strikeout performance attests, but he is fooling no one. Where is Henry Owens when we need him?
In 1933, Tom Yawkey bought the Red Sox and his spending spree was not just the team. Fenway Park was refurbished and players purchased since this was desperate times with The Great Depression. In Philadelphia, the Athletics were barely surviving, but they did have a commodity that just may have been the greatest ace of all – Lefty Grove.
Grove did not make it to the majors until he was 25-years-old and it had nothing to do with talent. In that era minor league teams had a significant control over players and Grove was signed to pitch for Baltimore by Jack Dunn. Each year Grove won and compiled a 108-36 record before Dunn sold Grove to his old friend Connie Mack for $100,600.
Grove pitched nine seasons for the A’s with the last seven being 20 game winning seasons except for 1931 when Grove won 31 games. Grove also pitched in three World Series (4-2, 1.75) and was sent packing to Boston in a “trade” that was really a Yawkey check for $125,000. Boston had the ultimate ace – or did they?
In 1934, Grove crashed and burned finishing the season 8-8 and an ERA of 6.50. Grove had previously won the ERA title five times. This was a total and complete disaster and a significant part happened to be Grove’s arm had failed. Money expended for a failure. Or was it?
Grove returned to form in 1935 posting 20 wins with a bit less heat and a bit more stealth. In eight seasons with Boston Grove made the All-Star team five times, won four ERA titles and won 105 games with that last win being number 300. Now back to Price.
Price is a misleading 4-1 record that could be 1-4. The latest effort was 4.2 innings, allowing six runs against the Yankees. Price continued to strike batters out – four this time – but also gives up better than a hit an inning this season. Price at this point is Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz from the first half of the 2015 season. Is it time to close the book on Price?
Of course not. There is no indication that his arm is hanging by a thread. His control – although not up to prior standards – is not in the baseball toilet. Price is a veteran who has been able to articulate his nightmare and not create any alternate universe excuse for his failings.
What the Red Sox will do is simply roll Price out for his next start and the one after that since the only thing that will remove Price from the rotation is an injury or Price himself via continued failings. There is some type of strange karma when the ace has suddenly become the weak point in your rotation – but if this continues the Red Sox would have to make a serious decision and that would be embarrassing to all – especially as almost daily postings take place regarding Jon Lester.
So Price has temporarily joined Grove in the pantheon of Red Sox portside failures. But if Price completes his seven-year contract like Grove served his eight seasons with Boston then all the current angst in RSN will be just an unpleasant memory.