Alfredo Aceves played a big role in the Yankees winning the World Series in 2009. He appeared in 43 games and posted a 3.54 ERA. Aceves had 25 outings that lasted at least two innings.
The Yankees gave up on Aceves after the 2010 season, however. Aceves was released after breaking his collarbone in what he said was a bicycle accident. The righthander appeared in only 10 games that season and the feeling in New York was that he grew too comfortable with life on the disabled list.
The Red Sox picked up Aceves at a low cost just before the 2011 season and he was terrific for them, appearing in 55 games with a 2.61 ERA. He started four games and saved two others. On 21 occasions out of the bullpen, he went at least two innings.
Aceves started last season as a closer and lost the job in August. He is 1-5 with an 8.51 earned run average and three blown saves in 25 games since last August 1. Aceves acted unprofessionally on several occasions last season, to the point where he was suspended for three games in late August.
On Tuesday, after getting rocked by Oakland, Aceves blamed the umpire for a tight strike zone and wondered aloud why his teammates didn’t hit as well as the Athletics.
Now he’s at another career crossroads. The Red Sox optioned Aceves to Pawtucket on Wednesday and are trying to trade him.
His value is scant, but there is probably a team or two out there willing to give him a shot. Aceves is only 30 and undeniably talented. He can throw 97 m.p.h. or dazzle hitters with breaking pitches. He also wants the ball every day. There are tools there for a team willing to put up with the eccentric behavior.
But as he did with the Yankees, Aceves wore out his welcome with the Red Sox.
Aceves isn’t selfish. He’s actually so committed to the idea of winning that he stays in the dugout after coming out of games to cheer on his teammates, something few pitchers do. Aceves loves baseball to a point where he carries around a bat and occasionally takes grounders at shortstop.
Aceves said in spring training that he spent part of the winter playing for a local semi-pro team in Mexico, the Banditos. He picked up Banditos t-shirts for several pitchers on the Red Sox and they wear them around the clubhouse. The pitchers generally like him. The position players not too much.
Frankly, he can be fun to have around at times. Aceves wore a ski mask in the dugout during a game played in warm weather in Cleveland last week. In spring training he made a bed of bath towels in front of his locker and took a nap. He does yoga at his locker once in a while. Being a little kooky isn’t a crime.
Pitching poorly is 80 percent of the reason he’s gone. But disrespecting authority, annoying teammates and saying nonsensical stuff to the media was surely factored in. The Red Sox can’t say they’re serious about changing the atmosphere around the team and allow a player to act that way.
Aceves will be branded a bad guy by some fans and probably some in the media, too. He’s probably more misunderstood.
But what he is sure is gone and probably gone for good soon enough. Play well and you can be quirky all day. But play poorly and that helps get you a one-way ticket somewhere else.