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Red Sox Acquire Boof Bonser

Boof Bonser Readies His Next Pitch (Photo by AP (File))

On the last day of the 2009 Winter Meetings, the Boston Red Sox acquired Boof Bonser from the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later or cash. With a career 5.12 ERA and 1.45 WHIP over his 391.2 major league innings, it is clear why Bonser was deemed expendable in the Twins’ efforts to retain Carl Pavano, who accepted arbitration. Bonser may end up as little more than minor league filler, but the big righty will have to overcome more than labrum and rotator cuff surgery to prove himself useful in Boston.

The Boof is in the Pudding

Born John Paul Bonser in 1981, he legally had his name changed to childhood nickname “Boof” in 2001. Acquired by the Minnesota Twins in the deal that sent A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants in exchange for Bonser, Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano, Boof put up solid numbers in the minor leagues compiling a 3.72 ERA with a 1.32 WHIP and 2.29 strikeout to walk ratio in 799 innings through 2005. After a solid start to the 2006 season Bonser was called up to the majors on May 21, 2006 and put together a good rookie year (4.42 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 3.5 K:BB) earning himself the start in ALDS Game 2 against the Oakland As.

2007 – 2009

While Boof had a good major league debut, he has not followed up on that promise, struggling in 2007 and 2008 and missing all of 2009 after undergoing surgery for his labrum and rotator cuff. Shifting to the bullpen in 2008 did not help his struggles. Batters hit .319/.366/.513/.879 against Bonser as a reliever; however, in this small sample, his strikeouts per nine and strikeout to walk ratio both increased, providing some signs of potential. As a word of caution, lefties have hit Bonser very hard, to the tune of .316/.375/.516/.891 versus righties hitting just .247/.296/.404/.699.

Future with the Red Sox

When Baseball America ranked Bonser the Twins’ 25th best prospect it was still respecting “a ceiling as a back-of-the-rotation starter” who could reach into the low 90s and succeed by changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance. If healthy, Bonser could be an option out of the pen to face right-handers, or as a spot starter should the need arise.

Overall, for the price, the Red Sox have a guy with a few years of experience, a major flaw (lefties), and some recent injury trouble, who could fill out the rotation in Pawtucket or lend a hand in Boston with some chance of upside. For what it’s worth, Bronson Arroyo’s 2005 included a 4.51 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP, 1.85 K:BB ratio and 100 strikeouts in just over 200 innings. Could Bonser put up similar numbers given the chance? Possibly. As we saw last year with John Smoltz and Brad Penny, don’t ever underestimate the importance of solid back of the rotation guys, which Bonser still has a chance to be.

About Mike Carlucci

Mike Carlucci writes about the Red Sox for Sports of Boston and can be found blogging about baseball and technology. He has a J.D and enjoys palindromes and espresso. You can follow him on Twitter @mikecarlucci or on Google+.

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3 comments for “Red Sox Acquire Boof Bonser”

  1. I think the Boof can be helpful. I totally agree with your final point…because as long as he’s healthy, he could be serviceable as a fifth or spot starter

    Posted by KC | December 11, 2009, 3:40 am
  2. Exactly. I think you had to expect more from Smoltz and Penny because of their careers, but Boof is definitely capable of making a contribution that at least keeps the team in a game.

    Posted by Mike Carlucci | December 11, 2009, 8:52 am
  3. […] fortified the infield with the acquisition of Tug Hulett, and the starting pitching staff with the signing of Boof Bosner, have now completed their transformation into prohibitive preseason favorites with the addition of […]

    Posted by Red Sox Sign Brian Shouse, Basically Clinch Pennant | Sports of Boston | January 15, 2010, 12:57 am

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