Red Sox : Analyzing Matt Barnes’s pathway to a possible roster extinction

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 20: Matt Barnes #32 of the Boston Red Sox looks on before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 20, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 20: Matt Barnes #32 of the Boston Red Sox looks on before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 20, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Matt Barnes’s IL trip could be redemption or release from the Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox and Matt Barnes are both engaged in attempting to find a secret sauce to explain Barnes’s meltdown since the All-Star break of last season. By all accounts, Barnes is a diligent baseball citizen who takes pride in his craft. Indeed, extensive tinkering has taken place to try to cure a fatal disease causing an earned run average that is starting to make gas prices look cheap.

Barnes is now on the injured list for 15 days. The reasoning is a sore shoulder. What level of legitimacy is there to this? It’s always risky to claim an injury where none exists. However, this offers a backdoor opportunity for an extensive rehabilitation assignment in the minors, which offers far less dire consequences than watching a fastball down Broadway become a souvenir.

He has more than five years of service time, so the normal pathway of sending him to the minors to try to get his game back on track is not available. Based on his last year’s performance, that would be a non-issue with a less experienced player. Being a pitcher, Barnes can be on a 30-day rehab assignment. If all goes well, he’ll return to the Big Club, but if the issues persist, then the inevitable will take place.

The Red Sox are uncomfortable in the new regime with dead money, and this is not a case of Rusney Castillo, David Price, or Pablo Sandoval in which the money was substantial. I don’t think it’s a reluctance on money but on the fact that Barnes was outstanding in the first half of 2021. The team will make every effort to see if that magic returns. So far, the only magic pulled out of the hat is a dead rabbit.

The Barnes I have seen this season makes Heathcliff Slocumb – a horrid relief pitcher, look like Bruce Sutter and Mariano Rivera. You can sense it with the players knowing garbage time is here when Barnes makes an appearance or desperation times with a wilted bullpen, hoping that three outs will arrive that do not cause a statcast hard-hit meltdown. Barnes’s rather pathetic metrics are covered here by BSI’s Brendan Mizgala. Not pleasant reading.

A pitcher can often lose it quickly, and we have seen that in the past with Boston. Manny Delcarmen was quite a passable relief specialist who suddenly had everything disappear. We all saw the meltdown of Daniel Bard, and then five years later, Bard somehow discovers what he lost. Maybe Boston is hoping Barnes becomes Bard without the longtime hiatus?

Do the Red Sox have the management patience to continue with Barnes? If it depended on fan and media reaction, Barnes would have departed weeks ago. Suppose he survives reasonably untouched in this rehabilitation travels and returns more of the same we have witnessed?

In that case, it only compounds an already miserable season, and Barnes makes the perfect scapegoat just like Trevor Story did earlier in the season. For Barnes to win over the crowd and the confidence in his teammates is going to be an arduous task. You can’t afford to throw away games unless the Red Sox remained so far out, but it doesn’t make a difference.

Where the failure of one exists becomes an opportunity for others. Pitchers in the minor league system, especially relief specialists, diligently watch what goes on with the Big Club regarding performance and injuries. Bad news for one player has the potential becoming good news for another. That is the cruel reality of the baseball business model. What have you done for me lately?

The Barnes saga has a brief respite with his injury and an assignment to the minors as part of the package. Barnes could be a goner sometime shortly after his rehab or again be on the roster. Further negative results will leave no option for Boston, and Barnes will be a former Red Sox.

dark. Next. Red Sox place Matt Barnes on 15-Day IL