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On Wednesday morning, the Red Sox recalled old friend Alan Embree from AAA-Pawtucket.
The move will send pint-sized reliever Fabio Castro back down to Pawtucket, less than 24-hours after being called up for the struggling Scott Atchinson. (Sorry Dustin, you again are the shortest player on the Red Sox.)
Embree’s contract is fitted with walk-clause that expires on Friday, meaning the reliever had the option to leave the team if he had not yet made the major league roster.
So far this season with Pawtucket, Embree has appeared in eight games, amassing 7.1 innings with a ERA of 3.68. The minor leaguers are having a tough time hitting Embree with only two hits, but control has been an issue, allowing five runners to reach via the walk.
So what does the Alan Embree reclamation project mean to the Red Sox struggling bullpen?
Through 21 games, the Red Sox bullpen has performed well below expectations, ranking 17th in ERA as a group, and logging a total of 71 innings, good for fifth-most in the Majors.
Is Alan Embree going to be able to solidify the stop-gap, long-relief duty the Red Sox desperately need?
Possibly. Thus far, Scott Schoeneweis has proved himself to be somewhat serviceable as a left-handed reliever, but the combination of Ramon Ramirez, Hideki Okajima, and Scott Atchison has left much to be desired.
Embree isn’t particularly crucial to the Red Sox in a purely lefty vs. lefty situation, with Terry Francona having the aforementioned Okajima and Schoeneweis at his disposal, so Embree’s role isn’t particularly defined, yet.
My hunch would be that Francona will use Embree in a variety of spots, ranging from mop-up duties like bridging a short Dice-K start during the week, to some crunch situations versus key lefties at the end of games after all hope for the Okie-Dokie is lost.
Make no mistake, Alan Embree is a shell of his 2004 self. Since leaving the Red Sox for the Yankees in 2005, he bounced around from San Diego, to Oakland, to Colorado over the last four seasons. He enjoyed some mild success in both San Diego and Oakland, but last year got shelled in Colorado for an ERA upwards of six over just 24.2 innings.
Embree isn’t going to come in and blow guys away anymore, but what he can do is provide some veteran stability to a bullpen that worked some serious overtime last month.
For a team boasting one of the best 5-man rotations in baseball, at least on paper, it’s hard to blame the bullpens shaky numbers squarely on their shoulders. Clay Buccholz’s outing on Tuesday night was a good start, but if we want to avoid any more 2004 reunions (Call for: Mike Timlin! Scott Williamson!), the Red Sox better start getting some longer outings from the starters.