The Red Sox were attempting to get Dan Haren from the Los Angeles Angels before time ran out and Haren became a free agent last Friday. According to Nick Cafardo, the speculated return for Haren was going to be pitcher Alfredo Aceves -- normally, that wouldn't seem like very much to get Haren, but the Angels seemed satisfied with reliever Carlos Marmol from the Cubs before Chicago pulled out of that deal. Given that, it's believable Aceves should have been a discussion starter, but Haren isn't a Red Sox, so apparently, it wasn't enough.
Cafardo goes on to explain why Boston looked to move Aceves:
The Red Sox love Aceves's arm and stuff, but don't like the high maintenance. They won't give him away for nothing, but he is very much available. Teams love his rubber arm and the fact he can fill different roles. Aceves still prefers to start.
Reportedly, former manager Terry Francona did a good job of keeping everyone outside the organization from knowing that Aceves was high-maintenance. Last season's manager, Bobby Valentine, was able to mostly keep it under wraps, at least until Aceves decided that going crazy in the middle of games in view of everyone was one way for everyone to see that he has a bit of loose cannon in him. It's no wonder that Boston would be looking to move him before he fails to secure a rotation spot once more and spends the season in a funk because he isn't in a role he prefers.
Aceves had a rough 2012. He had successful stretches as a closer, but his command was out of whack thanks to the increased velocity of his stuff. It also might have tired him out sooner, causing even more command issues. This made Aceves far more susceptible to homers and hard-hit balls than he had been in the past, when his game was more about painting the corners and throwing quality strikes than it was about blowing it by the opposition.
Aceves works best when he works all the time -- he looks sharper, and his arm can handle the workload of constant use. So long as he isn't trying to gas it by everyone, anyway. That makes his arm seem valuable in one very specific role -- and it isn't starting -- but if other teams are willing to try him out as a starter, or think he can close for them, then Boston should (and likely will) be having those conversations this off-season.
Cafardo reports another bit of Red Sox-related news that also involves the Angels, that essentially confirms something we were all hoping last week when Vernon Wells trade rumors popped up:
He [Vernon Wells] is being shopped to anyone and everyone, with the Angels willing to eat a lot of the $42 million he is owed. Wells, who will turn 34 in December, never panned out in LA. Worse, he has shown very little passion for baseball. The Red Sox are one team the Angels have tried to start talks with; the Angels would love to get John Lackey back, but the Sox are intrigued by what Lackey might look like after Tommy John surgery.
Vernon Wells is pretty terrible at baseball, even aside from his albatross of a contract. If Vernon Wells cost the league minimum for Boston, it wouldn't change the fact that over the last two seasons, he's hit a combined .222/.258/.409. That wouldn't be acceptable at shortstop, never mind left field. Inexpensive awfulness is still awfulness, and Boston shouldn't be looking at Wells. But as Cafardo said, this is the Angels who want to move Wells, and were hoping to do so for John Lackey. Of course the Angels want to move Wells. Current general manager Jerry Dipoto has his job in Los Angeles in part because Vernon Wells exists as an Angel. The current plan if they can't move him and his contract is to stick him on the bench where he can watch baseball instead of play it.
Thinking Lackey's situation is anywhere close to Wells is laughable. Lackey has less money left on his deal, and if his 2015 option is picked up, his average annual value drops precipitously. Lackey was terrible in 2011 because his elbow was in the final stages of being torn apart that come before Tommy John surgery. Wells' excuse for a poor season (well, two seasons) was that he's Vernon Wells. They have surgery to fix the former condition, but as of yet, there's no cure for being Vernon Wells out there.
There's a very good chance John Lackey, well over a year removed from Tommy John surgery, gives Boston between 180-to-200 average innings in 2013. It's not sexy, but it's valuable, and something the Boston rotation could very much use. There's an even better chance that Vernon Wells is replacement level again, and for $21 million. The risk of Lackey not bouncing back to something resembling his 2010 form is far less problematic than Wells at all at this stage of his career. Even if you're desperate to be rid of Lackey, that much is obvious.