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When the Boston Red Sox traded for Boof Bonser over the winter, it flew under the radar a little bit.
For good reason.
A casual baseball fan may know his name, you don’t forget a name like Boof. Sad to say, most of Mr. Bonser’s notoriety comes from merely that, his name.
This will be Bonser’s fourth year in the majors, playing out his first three as a part of the Minnesota Twins rotation. Unfortunately, in February of 2009 he tore the labrum and rotator cuff in his throwing arm, causing him to miss the entire season.
A side note on Bonser: He was actually a part of that historically lopsided trade that sent Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Bonser to the Twins in exchange for the great A.J. Pierzynski. Nice trade Sabean.
Bonser burst onto the scene for the struggling Kyle Lohse in 2006 and enjoyed his only winning season of his career, posting a 7-6 record in 18 starts, with a 4.22 ERA . It wasn’t a glamorous season, but also not a bad rookie campaign, as it earned him a spot in the rotation for 2007.
In his sophomore season, Bonser seemed to hit a wall. His 27 gopherballs allowed was good for fourth in the American League that summer and his ERA ballooned to 5.10. The team on a whole struggled that year, and the rotation outside of Johan Santana was a work in progress. (Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, Matt Garza, and Francisco Liriano? Not a bad current rotation.)
In 2008, Bonser was thrown into a role similar to the one he’s projected to have with the Red Sox, with disastrous results. He made 12 starts and 35 appearances out of the bullpen and it rarely went well for Boof. His 5.93 ERA that season, plus his injury in the following offseason likely led to his availability last December.
To be honest, this isn’t a call up to be excited about. We’ve come to Boof Bonser simply by process of elimination.
The role of “Journeyman relief- kind of crappy bullpen guy” has been a revolving door this season. Atchison, Nelson and Schoeneweis have all tried to fill that void in the bullpen, but failed. Hideki Okajima seems to be doing his best to claim that job, if Bonser doesn’t beat him to the punch.
In 32 innings in Pawtucket this season, Bonser has accrued a 6.34 ERA, and he got PROmoted?!
One thing Bonser can do, is give you multiple innings in a mop up role. Since Josh Beckett went down, Tim Wakefield was removed from that role and the bullpen has since gone down the toilet. The Red Sox are in a position where the starter HAS to go at least five innings, or Terry Francona’s going to have to run through the entire ‘pen.
Francona is working with three reliable relievers as of now: Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard and Manny Delcarmen. Of all the relievers the Red Sox have used this year, those three are the only ones with ERA’s under 5.00! The lack of reliable depth has forced Francona’s hand into overusing Daniel Bard. He’s second in the American League in appearances by a reliever (31), the exact opposite of what everyone in the organization wants to see. What’s worse is that Delcarmen is only five appearances back of that (26).
The best possible scenario that I can envision does not bode well for Bonser. If he can perform serviceably in mop-up and maybe even a spot start, he’ll keep that job until Beckett’s back in the rotation. Wake would then get moved into the bullpen, and Bonser would then move back down to Triple-A serving gopherballs to Crash Davis. Bonser’s quadruple-A bound (again this is optimistic).
It didn’t start off too well for Bonser, but in his second appearance he gave up a few hits, but wriggled away unscathed.
Only time will tell where Bonser ends up, but its a bad sign if he’s still on the Red Sox come August.