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And the Red Sox’s new closer is … Alfredo Aceves

Apr 4, 2012, 1:50 PM EST

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays Getty Images

Mark Melancon seemed like the obvious closer fill-in for the Red Sox following Andrew Bailey‘s thumb surgery, but manager Bobby Valentine announced today that Alfredo Aceves will begin the season with ninth-inning duties.

Melancon saved 20 games for the Astros last season, whereas Aceves has just four career saves, and while Aceves is certainly capable of thriving in the role a large part of his value comes from the rubber-armed ability to soak up innings as a bullpen workhorse (and potential rotation option).

He threw 114 innings last season, making four starts and 51 relief appearances, but very few modern managers have used closers as more than one-inning guys and very few closers pitch more than 60-70 innings per season.

Aceves’ workload figures to drop as his save total rises, so it’ll be interesting to see how Valentine deals with not having the right-hander to put out fires in all kinds of situations. Valentine said that Melancon will serve as the backup closer, getting save chances on Aceves’ days off.

Bailey, who was acquired from the A’s after Jonathan Papelbon signed a $50 million deal with the Phillies, is expected to miss 3-4 months.

  1. aceshigh11 - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    Hmm…okay.

    Aceves is like a Swiss Army knife, but I find his long relief capabilities to be of far more value than closing, given the possibility that the Sox starters could be melting down left and right to start the season.

    • Jack Marshall - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      What possible support do you have for that statement? Beckett, Lester and Buchholtz aren’t chopped liver. The pessimism about the Red Sox is completely irrational.

      • thinman61 - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:06 PM

        But haven’t you heard? Doubront and Bard are on innings limits for the year. Which totally means neither of them are going to get out of the 5th on a regular basis.

        /sarcasm

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:08 PM

        I wouldn’t say it’s irrational. Buchholz has 4 years under his belt in MLB, and has been healthy for what, one season? Is it more irrational to think he’s going to put in 32+ starts or get hurt again?

        Lester and Beckett should be fine, but a 4/5 rotation of Dubront (sp) and Bard with a question at three (Buchholz) and bullpen issues is a problem. The offense should be really good, but the pitching is a question.

      • lardin - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:11 PM

        Lester is the only pitcher on this staff who’s gonna pitch 200+ innings. Beckett will pitch 7-8 innings every once in a while but he usually throws 110 pitches through 6, and hes already dealing with a minor injury. Bucholz has never thrown more than 178 innings in a season and hes coming off a major back injury. Bard and Doubront have innings limits. So, how can you count on anyone on this staff not named Lester?

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:23 PM

        I didn’t write the original post, but I wanna try this anyway:

        Beckett has already seen two hand/thumb specialists this spring, Bucholz missed most of last season with back issues, Lester saw statistical decline across the board last year, Bard is unproven as a starter, and Dubront is straight-up unproven.

        I’m not saying they will all tank, but there are certainly legitimate questions about each of these guys, and not a ton of depth behind them. Keeping the Mexican Gangsta stretched out might be a good plan.

      • aceshigh11 - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:08 PM

        Yeah, but…we’re RED SOX fans.

        Pessimism is a religion to us.

        I think Beckett is a petty, vindictive headcase and is going to have a lousy year, Buchholz is fragile and unproven, and the 4th and 5th slots I don’t even want to discuss.

        Lester is the only guy I have faith in.

        So…even if Beckett, Lester and Buchholz pitch well, that still leaves two potential meltdowns a week with no replacements forthcoming.

        Does that make sense to you?

      • bigharold - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:34 PM

        “I think Beckett is a petty, vindictive headcase and is going to have a lousy year,”

        I think yout assessment of Beckett is accurate but I think he’ll have a decent year just to spite the Nation, .. assuming his thumb is no more an issue than has been reported.

        Hey remember, the RS were the pick of the litter last season so I’d wait until the thawing started before I’d be worried about melting down.

      • marshmallowsnake - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:38 PM

        I am a Sox fan…and I am fearing missing the playoffs this year. Never…ending…summer :(

    • petey1999 - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:53 PM

      Watch this space for Cook, Hill and, believe it or not, Dice-K. People will be surprised how much pitching flexibility Valentine will have.

  2. cur68 - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    So Aceves will start his closing duties from the 5th inning on? This should be fun.

  3. yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Hee hee hee. Bobby V. at work.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

      • cur68 - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:52 PM

        Hey, you know what they say: see a broad to get dat booty yak ‘em…leg ‘er down a smack ‘em yak ‘em!

  4. 24missed - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Go Aceves! He is amazing to watch and I can’t wait to see more of his quirky little mound things. Aceves is extremely valuable to the bullpen, but that is stating the obvious. Perhaps, if Bard falters in the rotation, they’ve got a good Plan B with having Aceves take over as a starter. That’s if the RS haven’t Joba’d Bard.
    Overall, Aceves is fabulous and you can’t go wrong with him. I love he actually cares about the game.

    The neat part of the game is watching how it all works out. Not just for the Sox, but for every team.

  5. psousa1 - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    Aceves was the MVP of the pitching staff last season. He’ll be fine. Can do it all. Probably better than Bailey.

    I think we are going to see a paradigm shift this season. If a pitcher is throwing well he will not be lifted in the 7th so you can bring in lefty set up man, righty set up man and then closer. They will actually let them pitch not have to show everyone how they are of superior intelligence

    (Ironic – people accuse Valentine of acting like he invented baseball when it was Theo Epstein who thought he was smarter than everyone else. He had such a contempt for the baseball establishment)

    • bozosforall - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:42 AM

      Watch this space in a few years when Valentine gets fired then gets the same weak treatment that Theo is getting now…and that Tito, Grady, Duquette, Zimmer, etc got once they were no longer with Boston. Lamest fan base on Earth.

  6. bigharold - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    “Aceves was the MVP of the pitching staff last season. He’ll be fine. Can do it all. Probably better than Bailey. ”

    I agree but no matter where the RS plug in Aceves there is an argument that he’s more valuable in others roles. The problem is there is only one of him and the real point is that the RS have holes in the pitching staff that if things go bad Aceves can only be used so much.

    • psousa1 - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      you are correct no doubt about it. He had huge value as the guy who came in the 5th, 6th and 7th – you could run him out there 3 games in a row. He has a rubber arm. I don’t know why they sent Aaron Cook to Triple A. He was pitching well and if he wasn’t going to be in the rotation he would have helped in the pen. But I think if Aceves does have a rough time of it then you might see Bard go back to the pen and close and Cook will come back and start so they probably want to keep his arm stretched out . the problem is Cook can opt out on May 1 and he will have 20 plus teams bidding for him.

      • petey1999 - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:49 PM

        No way the Red Sox FO lets Cook opt out. I think it’ll only take $100K and a spot on the 40 man roster.

  7. j0esixpack - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    I’m really warming to this idea… I thought it was a slam dunk to move Bard – the previous closer in waiting – from the 5th man of the rotation back to the closer spot – but apparently either he or the team balked

    (maybe because no one expects anything of the 5th starter but everyone expects everything of the closer?)

    Personality and attitude count for a lot in a closer – it wouln’t surprise me if this injury wound up being a blessing in disguise

  8. bozosforall - Apr 5, 2012 at 11:37 PM

    The Red Sox aren’t going anywhere this year. Except golfing in October.

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