A hot topic surrounding the Red Sox right now is whether or not they need to acquire another lefty reliever before the season starts. There are some options, Brian Fuentes, Hideki Okajima and Dennys Reyes to name a few, but one has to wonder if we’re not placing too much emphasis on the handedness of the reliever. I prefer to emphasize overall effectiveness.
As an aside, what an offseason. Here we are on December 28th and all we can gripe about is if Boston has enough players in their bullpen that throw with a particular hand. The rest of the roster is completely set, stacked with both elite talent and plenty of depth. It’s important to remember that these are high-class problems.
It’s still a matter worth tackling, though, so let’s take a look. The list below includes what I think is likely to be the Opening Day bullpen, with one extra name.
|OPS vs. Lefties ’08-’10||OPS vs. Lefties 2010|
As another quick aside, I want to address Tim Wakefield. I’m getting a bit tired of him. He’s been incredible, one of the great Red Sox players of my lifetime, but it just feels like it’s time. I know, I know. One Josh Beckett back flare-up or Dice-K missed start and I am going to come to regret those words. But I don’t know. He doesn’t want to relieve, and is he any better as a starter than Felix Doubront or Michael Bowden? His presence has grown awkward and may stunt the development of players who could help more now anyway.
Ok, do the Red Sox need a lefty? Well Doubront is sitting there, and he dominated left-handed batters last year. Daniel Bard sure seems to handle them just fine, too. I actually expect bounce-back from Jonathan Papelbon this year, and so if those numbers look more like the 2008-2010 number than the 2010 one, he looks dependable. Bobby Jenks doesn’t have problems with lefties. There’s also Andrew Miller and Lenny DiNardo hanging around in a pinch. Basically, you just want to avoid Dan Wheeler, Matt Albers and Scott Atchison when the opposition’s good lefties are due up.
To me, it looks like they’re fine. If adding Fuentes, something Jon Heyman indicated was possible today, would eat into funds that could be used at midseason to shore up weaknesses, I’m not sure I like it. If not, if they’re separate pools of money, then sure, why not add another excellent reliever? With the righties and lefties they have already in the fold, acquiring another lefty reliever doesn’t need to be a priority. That’s because Theo et al decided to make acquiring good relievers the bigger priority.