I've got this sign that was posted near my desk by a co-worker the day after Matt Clement imploded in Game 1 of the ALDS against the White Sox last fall.
"Due to Matt Clement's abysmal performance last night against the White Sox, I will not be discussing anything associated with the Red Sox today."
Funny how topical it remains.
Disturbing doesn't begin to define Clement's recent resume of futility. Over his last four starts, the Red Sox starter is 1-2 with 14 walks, nine strikeouts, and a 9.94 ERA.
Just in case you missed that, a 9.94 ERA.
And because we simply want to bang you over the head with it in a "Karateeeee" like way: 9.94.
Perhaps the best news to come from his outing last night was that Clement is on his way back to Boston to receive an MRI on his pitching shoulder. Clement described the feeling as a dead feeling, "not a dead arm." He's scheduled to pitch Monday at Fenway against Les Nationales, a start that surely is in question.
What more can be said about the atrociousness of Matt Clement? Ever since being Charlie Brown-ed on the mound in Tampa last summer, he's had the tenacity of a doorknob. Yes, yes, we all know he has great "stuff" but Clement's head is simply not in the game, lovely for a man making $9.5 million.
Case in point as to how Clement reacts when under pressure in different situations:
Bases empty: 3.09 ERA
Runners on: 10.68 ERA
Runners in scoring position: 15.63 ERA
RISP with two outs: 31.50 ERA
Those are some damning numbers. If this were a court of law, this is what they'd call a slam-dunk case. The more the situation demands, the easier Clement crumbles.
So, where do the Sox go if Clement has to face the disabled list? Abe Alvarez remains waiting in Pawtucket, and David Pauley I suppose could have another callup, but let's bypass those thoughts for a while before we start missing Clement, OK? David Wells may never pitch again, Jonathan Papelbon isn't leaving his role, Bronson Arroyo is a time zone to the left, Jon Lester is already here to fill in, and…look, I have no idea what they are going to do.
Here are the pitchers Sox fans can depend on right now: Curt Schilling, Papelbon, Tim Wakefield, and Mike Timlin. That's it. Four guys. Is it just me, or for a team with a $130 million-plus payroll is that not pathetic?
The optimist says, so what, they've got a better record than they did last year at this time. The pessimist says, um, how'd all that work come October?
Which one do you think is the realist?
Theo Epstein has started to take some heat as of late as well, some of the shine on his golden boy image tarnished a bit. The man credited with building a World Series champ in 2004 has indeed made some questionable moves since his piece de resistance in July of that summer, dealing Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs.
Mostly on the tip of fans' minds is that fact that he didn't re-sign Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe during the same winter he tossed cash at Matt Clement and David Wells. In 2006, Martinez and Lowe are a combined 11-5 with ERAs under 3.00. Clement and Wells are 5-6 this season with 6.61 and 8.64 ERAs, respectively. Those fans are living some revisionist history of course in that Lowe pitched about as well as Clement during the 2004 regular season, and the fact that Martinez wanted a fourth year was the reason the Red Sox refused.
But I'll tell you what, no fourth year from Pedro Martinez can look any worse than what the Sox are getting from Clement in Year 2.
The Red Sox didn't want to pay Martinez's fourth year, but they'll dish out the same amount Martinez would have made that season to help fix Epstein's blunder with Edgar Renteria, owing the Braves $11 million on the shortstop's contract.
The Red Sox didn't want to give Martinez $11 million thanks to the fact that he'll be 37 in the fourth year of the deal, yet they are willing to give Julian Tavarez two years and $6.7 million.
The Red Sox didn't want to pay Martinez, but paid the Cincinnati Reds $1.5 million to take Arroyo, a guy who they desperately need right about now.
That right there is almost two years of Martinez salary wrapped up in ill-advised moves. And yet here most of us are still toeing the company line that it's too early to judge losing Martinez, that we have to wait until two years from now to see if we were right.
I'm done waiting. In hindsight it is bottom line ridiculous to not give a fourth year in that circumstance to a proven future Hall of Famer and turn around and issue one fewer year to an unproven head case like Matt Clement. Because now you have another year and a half of paying this guy for ineptness, a whole heck of a lot earlier than you would have had to pay an aging Martinez. And can anyone ever imagine Pedro being this bad in his late 30s?
Meanwhile, Clement, at $9.5 million, is the third-highest paid player on the team this year, just behind Manny Ramirez and Schilling. Ugh. Here's hoping kids like Lester can get the job done over the next few seasons because it's evident that the free agent pitching market hasn't been kind.
I'm keeping the sign up. How 'bout them Bruins?