The mystery in Boston this hot-stove season: come April, who will be closing games for the Red Sox? The mystery persists. But today, a clue. Let me begin at the beginning.
So, last season the Boston Red Sox took one for the MLB team when they hired Allard Baird, the man who (un)made the Kansas City Royals, to be an advisor and scout.
Also last season, Boston’s closer, Jonastud Papelstud, had a transient subluxation of the shoulder, which caused him to miss several games at the end of the season when only fools believed the Red Sox still had a shot at anything. Team doctors thought it would be less wear-and-tear on Papelstud’s incredibly masculine and generally wicked awesome right arm to throw once every five days for 7 innings than to throw an inning almost every day. So the hurler moved back to the starting rotation, where he was supposed to be all along (until Keith Foulke’s suckage necessitated his stepping-up).
So, basically, this left Boston at the end of the season with no closer, and with intrepid baseball genius Allard Baird in the posish of finding a new one.
According to today’s Boston Globe, Baird went to Seattle to see what he could see. What he saw was disgraced former 16-game winner Joel Pineiro coming out of the bullpen:
He watched his stuff, how he conducted himself, how he approached the job. And Baird came away thinking this is a guy who could successfully work out of the bullpen.
But Baird wasn’t done. He had one more (idiotic) suggestion to make:
Baird advised the Sox to sign Runelvys Hernandez, who played for Baird when he was general manager of the Royals. Hernandez has an electric arm but was not consistent as a starter. Hernandez doesn’t fear any hitter or any situation. So Pineiro and Hernandez will get big-time looks.
Maybe Runelvys would do well to fear certain hitters or certain situations. It might help his game. Since his first season in 2002, his ERA has gone steadily up—4.36 that year, 4.62 the next, 5.52 in 2005, and a truly horrific 6.48 last year. The same is true of his other stats as well. For instance, in 2002 he had about twice as many strikeouts as walks—45 to 22. But last year, his 50 strikeouts in 109 innings were balanced by 48 walks. He’s never had a winning season (his first year is again his best, with a 4-4 record). A guy who’s erratic, worsening, has a high ERA, and throws a lot of base-on-balls isn’t exactly closer material. But hey, his arm is “electric” right?
As for Pineiro, he’s coming off of three straight losing seasons. However, he at least has tasted success, with three solid seasons from 2001 to 2003. But as with Hernandez, his stats have also been trending worse. An ERA of around 2 in 2001 rose steadily through the 3′s, until 2004 when it hit 4. Why stop there? 2005 saw it swell to the 5′s, and by last year it had reached a lofty 6.36. The one thing you can say for the kid is that he does consistently strikeout plenty of hitters. He has 658 K’s since 2000, and just 327 walks. The problem? He’s expensive. He made almost $7 million last season. At least Hernandez is under the $1 million mark.
But Pineiro tries, rather adorably, to make himself friendly with Sox fans in the Globe story:
He thinks he will feed off the adrenaline of Boston fans because, “I did it in Seattle, but this is Baseball Nation here. Hopefully, I can take that aggressiveness out there, and I know that having Jason Varitek behind the plate is going to help me out an awful lot.”
“I wanted to go somewhere where I had a chance to win every day,” Pineiro said. “I had chances to start other places. But I thought to myself that I might not have the chance to wear this jersey again.”
Dude, it’s Red Sox Nation, not Baseball Nation. But props on the shoutout to ‘Tek.
I’m glad we didn’t get into a bidding war for some expensive, aging closer who may or may not have been able to pitch the entire season. But it’s key to have that rock-solid guy in the 9th. Our starting rotation (Schilling, Matsuzaka, Beckett, Papelbon, Wakefield) makes me feel all tingly, but without someone to finish the game in the 9th, it could all be for naught. At least Theo seems to have (finally) gotten the memo: you can never have too much pitching.