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Bobby Jenks: A Colossal Letdown?

AP, Charles Krupa

With injuries plaguing the Sox so late in the year, fans can add another name to that ever growing list. Red Sox relief pitcher Bobby Jenks is out for the rest of the season. Wait, what? You’ve never heard of Bobby Jenks? But you do watch Red Sox games, right? Oh, yeah, that’s why you’ve never heard of him, because you watch the Red Sox.

Reportedly, Jenks’ season came to a halt do to a combination of lower back issues and pulmonary embolism (which is caused by having a blocked artery in the lung). This condition can be life-threatening, but Jenks is being properly medicated, so he shouldn’t have any issues that would result in a more serous situation.

Regardless, the Sox reliever is in a bad way right now and has basically done nothing for the team and may not even do anything next year. Bobby Jenks and his paroxide goatee are signed with the Red Sox through next season as part of a two-year, $12 million deal. This means the Sox will still owe a “hill of beans” to the righty, who, well, looks like he would literally work for a hill of beans.

Pap’s Replacement?

This was a highly scrutinized sighing that had many of us trying to future out what Theo’s angle could possibly have been. Jenks was coming off of an injury played season and Theo rewarded him with a multi-year, mid-seven-figure contract. It was pretty clear that Jenks was going to be the team’s “emergency button.” Jenks’ role was, presumably, going to be as an emergency closer, if Jonathan Papelbon (or Papelbalm, as my dad calls him) had the same season he had in 2010. But, Pap ended up having a terrific year and Jenks really wasn’t needed as much as the front office thought.

That’s a good thing too, because Jenks made three trips to the disabled list this season and has only made 19 relief appearances, with his last on July 7th. For those of you who love numbers, Jenks is 2-2 this season with a 6.32 ERA in 15 2/3 innings pitched.

Bad Timing By The Sox

I think the Sox just picked this guy up at the wrong time. While in Chicago, Jenks was pretty good, posting a 3.40 ERA, a 3.04 strikeout-to-walk ratio and he saved 173 games in six seasons. Even though he was coming off of an injury-plagued season, I honestly thought Jenks was going to be the Sox closer by the end of the year, but only because I sincerely thought Pap was going to be relived of his duties in that role.

But, now, it just looks like Jenks is a waste of money for the Sox. He’s not a huge waste of money since he only has a year left, so he’s not someone the Sox are trapped with long term, but he certainly wasn’t money well spent. He pitched in 19 games and was hurt the entire season. He made absolutely zero impact. I understand that it’s not his fault for being hurt, but it is managment’s fault for bringing a guy in that was already showing signs of physical deterioration. He wasn’t playing healthy and I get that, but a waste of money is also a guy who comes to a team hurt.

So, for anyone who still thinks that Theo can do no wrong, he wasted some cash on this one. He brought in Jenks as a name, just like Rich Hill, to help revamp the bullpen. Often times in sports, names help trick some fans into thinking that good is being done. In reality, some names end up being wasted dollars and cents because that’s all certain players have left, a name. As stated before, Jenks was good, really good in Chicago and many of us knew that. But he just didn’t bring that with him. I’ve said it twice in this article, I thought Jenks was a good signing and it just didn’t that out that way this season.

It’ll Be an Interesting Winter

Papelbon is going to be a free agent this winter and he may very well pack up and leave Boston. Jenks will still be on the team and yes, the front office is crazy enough to put him in as closer. But even if he isn’t given the closer role, he’ll still be on the team. A relief pitcher with major health issues that costs $6 million is not “tradable” by any stretch of the imagination. This winter, for the Red Sox own good, should be all about pitching. The bullpen will be adjusted, as will the pitching staff and Jenks will be that cloud hovering over the team’s head.

I don’t want Jenks to fail next season, I want him to do well. I know I made fun of his beard and weight and other “non-suable” things (you’re welcome Sports of Boston — Editor’s Note: Thank you Andrew!) but, all kidding aside, Jenks can be a solid pitcher, just not the guy who closed the 2005 World Series. He’ll be 31 next season and he’ll be coming off of his second injury-plagued year with something to prove. Hopefully he does, because the name Jenks could easily be used as a dirty word in these parts next summer.

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