Paging Dick Drago.
Where have you gone Wes Gardner?
Please come home, Jim Willoughby
We miss you Stan Belinda.
Is it too soon to hit the panic button, Red Sox fans? Hell, no, not when it comes to the bullpen. When 12 runs and two save opportunities in the same aren't enough - the message is simple for the Red Sox and Manager Bobby Valentine. Here's a hint, it doesn't include "closer Mark Melancon."
When the answer is "Alfredo Aceves," the question has to be: "When can Andrew Bailey come back?" Melancon, Franklin Morales, Vincete Padilla.. Get real. More is less.
The bullpen was a problem long before Sunday or even Opening Day. And while Andrew Bailey might keep the Red Sox within 20 games of first place after returning in July, the move to make Daniel Bard the interim closer during Bailey's injury was so simple, Bobby V. had to out-think himself by contorting Aceves or Melancon into that role. Bard's presence was too self-evident. Making him a closer after he had been the closer-in-waiting all last season would have been way too Tito for Valentine.
Aceves has given up four hits and three earned runs this season on just 14 pitches. Much like Daniel Simpson Day, Aceves has no ERA because he has yet to record an out. By the way, Melancon's ERA is a svelte 36.00.
Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life and it didn't help the Red Sox much last season, either.
Of course, Carmine computed that one solid, reliable closer at $12 million a year is not worth nearly as much as 12 stiffs at $1 million a piece. Otherwise, we would have watched a giddy Jonathan Papelbon (two saves no doubt) stretch the limits of sexual innuendo with Jenny Dell after Sunday's game. A dozen runs should be sufficient when your payroll is $178 million. John Henry can always buy himself a time machine, set it for sometime around Nov. 10, 2011 and offer Papelbon 200,000 Fenway 100 Bricks to stick around for another four years.
Yeah, it's only three games. But there's nothing in the make-up of any of these would-be closers the Red Sox can audition in lieu of Bard that makes one think things will be any different after game No. 13, 53 or 103. Again, a year ago, Bard was the designated closer in waiting and Carmine could not wait to get rid of Papelbon. Today, you're subject to waterboarding by Wally if you call for Bard to be the closer and removed from the rotation. Actually, why stop there. The starting pitching isn't much better - save for John Lester. Deep-fry Josh Beckett while you're at it. The Red Sox may need to bring back Pedro, Clemens and the Rocket's bag of special supplements if they ever want to get one complete game a month. The entire Red Sox staff had two complete games in 2011, the same number that the infamous Brian Denman threw in 1982.
At least we have that cool "Relay - Fenway 100" commercial mixing the old and new Red Sox, but I don't still don't remember El Tiante ever pitching at Fenway with NESN and Jordan's furniture signage in center field, even when he was with the Yankees:
How bad is it? Fans are bemoaning the fact that Vincente Padilla didn't stick around to pitch the ninth after going four innings or that Franklin Morales wasn't allowed to pitch the 11th after throwing 29 pitches over two innings. @TimBritton of the Providence Journal notes that before Sunday the Red Sox had won 276 straight games when they scored at least 12 runs.
When does training camp start, anyway? The Stanley Cup banner ceremony came just eight days after the Red Sox completed their September collapse. The perfect painkiller. And the Bruins should help us shake this off as well once they begin their playoff run Thursday. But if the Red Sox don't snap out of this soon, they'll need to install a springboard on the upper deck of the Tobin Bridge to accommodate the Sox fans standing three-deep. "Now pitching, Melancon, Mark Melancon." Time for a triple-half-gainer with a twist. The ensuing violence could make "The Departed" look like "Mary Poppins." For the sake of the Mystic River ecosystem, the Red Sox need to put Bard back at the back end of the bullpen until Bailey returns.
The Red Sox are 7-23 since September 1 and haven't won a playoff game since Jason Varitek homered to beat the Rays in Game 6 of the 2008 ALCS. That's the baseline we're working with. These are not short-term issues. The Red Sox have not been this bad out of the gate since . . . last year. The Old Towne Team hasn't endured back-to-back 0-3 starts since 1933, which was a year before the "The Three Stooges" made their first Columbia short ("Woman Haters.") The new "Three Stooges" movie doinks us in the eyes this Friday, the 13th, the same day as the Fenway home opener. How fitting is that? Maybe those knuckleheads Ben, Larry and Bobby (We'll make "Shemp" Aceves the fourth Stooge) will have a 2012 victory by then.
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