A few months ago the Red Sox in their infinite wisdom apparently decided that their 2007 World Series closer Jonathan Papelbon was a commodity too expensive to keep despite so he took his 219 career saves, 2.33 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, to Philadelphia where he has managed already to save more games than his replacement Alfredo Aceves has managed to get batters out in two appearances.
Meanwhile Mark Melancon has managed to prove that saving 20 games for a team that managed to lose 100 games (the 2011 Astros) is certainly not a qualification for closing out games for a team that is expected to contend.
Thus do the Red Sox for the second straight season start the year by being swept, but unlike 2011 they do it on the strength or lack thereof of their bullpen.
With Melancon apparently unable to close a game when there is actual pressure to do so and Aceves suddenly unable to even get a single batter out in the 9th inning the question remains, who can the Red Sox trust to close?
There are several untested arms they can through into the mix but what would be the best solution? I suggest the best solution might be a “caretaker” closer. Somebody who can do the job on a temporary basis for a few months or perhaps a single season while a more permanent solution is found.
But the question becomes who?
You would want a player who has experience in pressure situations, preferably someone with closing experience, yet someone who would understand that this was not a long terms gig. A person who can compete but does not feel the need to prove themselves to a new manager. A veteran player but someone who can give an inning or maybe more if called upon. yet someone who is likely not going to have arm problems throwing every day. A pitcher who has stuff that can absolutely baffle hitters but wouldn’t break the bank. Somebody grounded enough to handle playing in one of Baseballs most storied parks yet could win over the fan base.
If only there was that kind of pitcher someone who might not have been in Boston’s Plans back in say February but might just be willing to step up during the current crisis?
If I’m the Red Sox, I’m on the phone with Tim Wakefield today.