Alfredo Aceves is a complete psychopath, so why is he still on the Boston Red Sox? The answer is simple; he is exactly what the Red Sox are in need of.
Aceves has a long track record of destructive behavior. Last year he had several run-ins with manager Bobby Valentine. He became a malcontent when Valentine announced that Daniel Bard would start instead of him. When Valentine came out to remove him from a game, he handed the ball instead to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and purposely walked around Valentine.
Later in the year when Valentine called on Andrew Bailey in a closing situation, Aceves threw a nutty–taking his jersey off and whipping it against the bullpen wall.
None of his antics last year proves anything though. When Bobby Valentine is the manager it brings out the crazy in everyone. Management decided to give him another chance this year, but will they regret it?
It didn’t take Aceves long to test new skipper John Farrell. On the first day of spring training Aceves was scheduled to pitch live batting practice at 10:45 but was pushed back when John Lackey was instead given that time slot. Aceves handled it like a 12-year old by simply lobbing the ball when it was his turn to pitch.
Pitching coach Rich Sauveur told him to throw harder, which Aceves ignored. Farrell pulled him aside later and the two reached an apparent understanding in their first interaction together. The fact that Aceves even spoke with Farrell is a sign of progress though. Baby steps, Red Sox fans. Baby steps.
Since the incident in live batting practice Aceves has continued to make headlines for the wrong reasons. While participating in the World Baseball Classic for Team Mexico, Aceves was of course right in the middle of the bench-clearing brawl that occurred with Team Canada. In his defense he was actually the victim, getting tossed to the ground by Philadelphia Phillies Minor Leaguer Tyson Gillies.
Most recently he got in a shouting match with Tampa Bay Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez, after hitting him in what he claimed was a pitch that got away from him.
So why should the Red Sox want this disgruntled sideshow? Yes, he’s completely insane, which is why he wears Dennis Rodman’s #91. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s an extremely versatile pitcher who was arguably the Red Sox MVP in 2011. He wasn’t meant to be a full-time closer and it showed last year as he sported an ERA over 5.00. He can eat up a lot of innings as a middle reliever and can also close if the team needs him or give them a spot start.
The “crazy” factor doesn’t mean a player can’t produce. Pedro Martinez was a huge nut-job and it brought out the best in him. Aceves just needs a coach (preferably Latino) that can keep him on a short leash. Luckily for the Red Sox Pedro is back as a coach this year. Expect him to get the best out of Aceves and watch him return to 2011 form.
Aidan Kearney also writes for his own blog aidanfromworcester.com. Follow him on Twitter @aidanfromworc