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One year ago, Alfredo Aceves was the one thing going right with an incredibly messy pitching staff. Of the difference a season can make.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend," the saying goes. Alfredo Aceves is not the best example of this.
Baseball fans do not like it when a player performs poorly, but one surefire way to make the situation worse is to not accept responsibility for those poor performances. I don't mean that the way the media does. Too many seem to love nothing more than to drum up hate for anyone who doesn't adhere painstakingly to their postgame decorum expectations, and whether any given set of answers is accepted as responsible or derided as insufficient seems to have more to do with whether they like the player to begin with than anything else.
No, what fans see as players shirking responsibility is when entitlement does not dwindle with results. When a leadoff hitter can't bring the OBP but scoffs at being moved down in the order, for instance. It's one thing to hurt the team through ineptitude, another entirely to then insist you be allowed to continue hurting the team for the sake of your ego.
This is how Alfredo Aceves ran afoul of Red Sox fans more than anything else, to the point where even his clash with persona non grata Bobby Valentine couldn't rehabilitate his image in the slightest. Of course, that the clash was over said lack of responsibility doesn't help.
Coming into last offseason as a valuable long relief pitcher, Alfredo Aceves made known his desires to return to the starting rotation. The team gave him a shot there in spring training, but he failed to produce results, and with a track record that showed him struggling with control in the rotation, Aceves was quickly pushed out of the conversation.
It's hard to say what might have happened had that been the end of the shuffling for Alfredo Aceves. Had Andrew Bailey not been injured, and Aceves simply moved back to his old role, everything may have worked out. Instead, however, they had a potentially disgruntled Aceves on their hands, and an open closer spot, so they threw him that prestigious bone, consequences be damned.
Said consequences were felt instantly, as Aceves gave up the walkoff hit in Boston's first game, and then blew the save in their third. He was responsible for five runs without recording an out in the team's incredible meltdown against the Yankees later in the month, and held a 10.29 ERA going into May.
Frankly, Aceves would spend the next three months impressing, providing 46 innings of 2.54 ERA ball. But with his early struggles he couldn't really afford a relapse, and in seven save opportunities from July 29 to August 28, Aceves coughed up the lead four times, twice surrendering four or more runs. His ERA jumped back up towards 5.00, and with Andrew Bailey now waiting in the wings, was yanked from the closer role.
If that had been that, and Aceves had simply gone back to the old role where he is best suited, Red Sox fans probably would have been fine with it. Instead, Aceves earned himself a suspension for his reaction (behind closed doors) to being removed, and then spent the last month feuding with Bobby Valentine and pitching like garbage besides. He would allow 16 runs in his last 20 innings.
The upshot of all this is that Aceves went from the one thing going right in the pitching staff--a savior we affectionately called Ace--to a prima donna malcontent who's likely destined to be non-tendered and allowed to go to whatever team wants to risk him.
For the most part, we won't be sorry to see him go.