The first item on the agenda today during this, our periodic gathering to discuss What's Best For the 2013 Red Sox (No Actual Grasp of Reality Required), is an obvious one after the events of Monday.
Remove Alfredo Aceves from the roster.
Replace him with Pedro Jaime Martinez.
OK, even the most unabashed Pedro admirer -- hello there -- recognizes that he threw his last meaningful pitch in 2009, when he managed to go 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA for the National League champion Phillies, using his knowledge and savvy to overcome a repertoire that had regressed to the point that it resembled the stuff of a mere baseball mortal.
Man, I still miss that Pedro heyday at Fenway, when the Domincan flags would wave and electricity filled the air and every start was an event. I'm always wary of saying there will never be another like [fill-in the name of the great person], but I'm comfortable saying that the Pedro experience truly was a once-in-fan's-lifetime blessing.
I miss watching him pitch. I will always miss watching him pitch.
But damn, is it good to have him back in our baseball lives again.
There have been many words spent on Pedro's talent and charisma since he first became one of ours in the winter of 1997-98, but I've always found his intelligence equally fascinating. He commands his second language with such wit and nuance that his observations sometimes arrive cloaked in poetry.
"I'm just another fan in the parade,'' he said Monday when asked about the fans' warm reception of his official return to the organization as a special assistant to general manager Ben Cherington, "I'm happy they still feel for me.''
Another fan in the parade. It's a beautiful way to affirm his affection, renewed though it may be, for the franchise. But of course he is much more than that. Martinez's title may be vague and his role open-ended and perhaps not yet fully defined, but it took exactly one day of his presence at JetBlue Park to recognize two truths:
1) He's the biggest star the Red Sox could have brought into the fold over the winter, Josh Hamilton included. The man is beloved, as it should be, to the point that even Dennis and Callahan treated him with respect.
2) He is not Ted Williams, a gifted performer who grew frustrated during his managerial days trying to work with those who weren't blessed with his ability.
Pedro's knowledge of pitching -- and more important, his ability to communicate that knowledge -- is going to serve the Red Sox extremely well, I have no doubt.
I love that image at the top of the page, of Daniel Bard at rapt attention while Pedro seemingly elaborates on a mechanical subtlety, perhaps something that might have served as a solution to Bard's woes last year. I love that he's the voice of reason about Doubront, whose immaturity threatens to impinge upon his promise but who is a long way from a lost cause. I love that Rubby De La Rosa is a pet project who already knows the mysteries of Pedro's changeup.
I imagine my initial reaction toward Alfredo Aceves's knuckleheaded antics Sunday was similar to yours, or pretty much this: Get him gone. Ben Cherington has made a conscious effort, one I believe will reap benefits, to collect players known to be good teammates in the quest for an accountable, likable, professional ball club. Aceves's testing of his third manager in three seasons fits the profile of someone adept at insubordination. There's indifference, or perhaps something more inexcusable, to be found in that 6.47 second-half ERA of a season ago.
We now know why Brian Cashman barely shrugged when asked why the Yankees dismissed a pitcher who was 14-1 with a 3.23 ERA over parts of three seasons. At some point, his talent no longer justifies the antics. Sunday seemed to be that breaking point for the versatile and talented Aceves, so good in spurts during his two years with the Red Sox.
But now I wonder if he's a salvage case for Pedro. He always did love a challenge, and as someone who frustrated his managers from Jimy Williams to Terry Francona by flaunting certain rules (particularly involving timeliness), he might connect with Aceves on that rebellious level. I say give him one more chance.
If Pedro, who is smiling, beloved -- proof you can get away with a lot if you're brilliant enough -- can't get through to Aceves, then send him on his way. Because that's when we'd know he's truly hopeless.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.