Friday, June 01, 2012

Hasn't Mark Melancon been punished long enough?

Several posts have been written in this space in the past two weeks about ex-Boston Red Sox players like Reddick and Lowrie really playing well for their new teams. What makes those trades look so bad for the Red Sox is that those players were traded to get a bullpen to replace Papelbon and Bard. And while there isn't much the Red Sox could have done to prevent Andrew Bailey going down to injury, it is a bit mystifying that Mark Melancon was banished to the minors after a few bad appearances and is rotting there.

Yes, Melancon threw some of the ugliest appearances ever in that first disastrous couple of weeks of Bobby Valentine's Red Sox career. How ugly was it? Butt-ugly. In two innings of total work, Melancon gave up ten hits and two walks and eleven of those twelve base runners scored. He gave up five homers. So it is understandable that he was sort of run out of town.

But couldn't that be considered a bit of a fluke? After all, Melancon was really good last year. He was a bit overworked by the Astros as he made 71 appearances good for a total of 74.1 innings. And he finished with a 2.78 ERA. He saved twenty games for the Astros and had decent peripherals good enough for a 3.25 FIP and a 1.45 WPA. That doesn't sound like a reliever worth giving up on completely.

And it is not like Melancon went down to the minors and sulked. He is lighting up Triple-A so much that his time down there seems wasted. Melancon has pitched 18.2 innings for the Pawsox and has an ERA of 0.96 with a strikeout rate of 12.5 per nine innings and a walk rate of only 1.4 per nine. So how long is going to be punished for a bad week?

It seems logical to this observer that before Alfredo Aceves, Scott Atchison and Vincente Padilla's arms fall off, a little help from Melancon could be helpful. They obviously believed in the guy to send a quality depth guy like Lowrie to the Astros to get him. So why keep him languishing in the minors. Perhaps there is more to the story and we have not heard it. Whatever the case may be, Melancon has been banished long enough. It is time for the Red Sox to start getting some value for him.

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