Boston Red Sox right-handed pitcher Alfredo Aceves recently made headlines with a puzzling lackluster performance during a practice drill. Despite concerns that such actions could negatively impact a team newly committed to a positive clubhouse, Boston shouldn’t give up on him yet.
WEEI’s Alex Speier reported that during his first live batting practice pitching of the spring, Aceves had to be prodded multiple times by the coaching staff to throw full-speed, as the drill was intended.
After the practice, the Red Sox refused to directly address the matter. According to the Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber, manager John Farrell commented, "The one thing I'll say is he didn't go through the drill as intended, and we've addressed it."
CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam tweeted that a source confirmed Aceves was testing his new manager:
In a separate article, Lauber reported that Aceves’ agent arrived at Boston’s camp and met with general manager Ben Cherington the day after the incident. He was assured by Cherington that his client is still valued by the team, but it was made clear that further insubordination would not be tolerated.
Aceves was also considered a distraction towards the end of last season, earning a three-game suspension from an argument with manager Bobby Valentine. He also tussled with teammate Dustin Pedroia in the dugout during a game.
Despite his boorish behavior, Aceves shouldn’t be given up on just yet.
Filling in at closer last year, he disappointed by going just 2-10 with a 5.36 ERA in 69 games. However, his true value may be his production from the 2011 season, when he had a 10-2 record and 2.61 ERA in 55 games.
The Red Sox placed an emphasis this past offseason on remaking their roster into a group of cohesive, team-first guys. In doing so, they also assembled one of the deepest pitching staffs in baseball and did not need to bring Aceves back. However, he was signed to a $2.65 million contract, even though he had no guaranteed spot on the team.
Aceves’ greatest value is his versatility and durability. He can pitch in any role, and do so effectively on short rest.
During his career, he has pitched in 37 games on no rest, and has gone 5-2 with a 2.55 ERA, while allowing just a .196 batting average.
WEEI’s Rob Bradford wrote that Aceves was brought back because, “the reward is simply worth the risks.”
Bradford went on to report that Aceves’ 2013 salary isn’t guaranteed (if behavior is an issue) and that Boston does have options on how to handle him.
He still has a minor league option and could be sent to Triple-A if he doesn't win a roster spot out of spring training.
He could be released or traded, although, it’s unlikely he would bring back much in return given his recent antics.
Finally, he could earn his spot on the team. His rubber arm makes him a candidate to start or come out of the bullpen, so he could either make it on his own merits or by necessity if the team suffers any injuries.
Aceves may have angered many people, including fans, with his display of disrespect, but it’s not a good enough reason to simply get rid of him at this point. The Red Sox hold all of the cards. They can either work to get him in line and take advantage of his talent, or they can determine he is too much of a liability and cut their losses.
Ultimately, it will largely be up to Aceves. Boston is clearly trying to build something after a miserable 93-loss 2012 season, so he can either decide to be part of it, or continue his poor behavior and have the decision made for him.
Statistics via BaseballReference