Re: A wedge appears to be forming between Bobby Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington-Power struggle may weaken Sox ri...
posted at 3/24/2012 3:44 PM EDT
Disagree - nothing was more instrumental in our September collapse than the failures of the rotation. Put out the five guys with the best chance to go seven strong.
We're both right here. Yeah, the failures of the rotation was instrumental in the September collapse, but on the other hand, had Bard not badly blown those two or three games from mid-August on (games where he came in with a multi-run lead) and had Papelbon blown just one save in September, the Sox would have been in the playoffs.
Over the course of the season, a bullpen that continually blows lead does demoralize a team. However, there's no doubt that a decent rotation is hugely important. In September last year, it seemed like in nearly every game, the Sox were down three to five runs by the third or fourth inning. That demoralizes a team just as much as bullpen blowing leads.
In fact, for all the talk about the Sox not playing very well fundamentally in September -- poor baserunning, bad hitting and fielding, mental mistakes, etc. -- and that being blamed on the "clubhouse culture," I believe that a lot of that had to do with guys pressing because of all the early big deficits.
I do agree with putting the best five guys out there, but at some point, you have to make a judgement on whether a mediocre starter is better that a lights-out reliever. Without overstating it (because the Sox couldn't find them last year), you can always find a mediocre starter. Bard ... I don't think he'll have any trouble as a starter. I think moving him back to the bullpen without giving him a fair shot at the rotation would be a mistake - it would hurt his confidence and lead to resentment.
I'm not as confident. Bard struggled as a starter in the minors, so I'm very wary of his chances of being a decent starter. But I do agree that the Sox need to give him a fair shot, not because of confidence or resentment, but because Bard does have a live arm so there is a the potential large upside.
And on Aceves, yes, a 4.18 ERA is good for a No. 5 starter, but it is a good discussion on whether or not he's more valuable there than in the versatile bullpen role he had last year. But if he is the No. 5 starter, that's what he'll be -- a starter. Except for early April, once the season gets going there really isn't a chance to skip a starter spot unless you're pushing back a starter to give him an extra-day's rest, in which case you need someone else for the spot start.
As good as Aceves has pitched this spring (EDIT: Well, until today),
I am inclined to put him in the rotation but I do really hate losing what he gave the Sox out of the pen. If Aaron Cook gets to full strength and can handle that role, then I'd breate easier.