Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Savior of the Boston Red Sox Pitching Staff, No Really

Finally, 2010 baseball begins in earnest.  News reports from Spring Training in February usually includes players doing a lot of stretching, a lot of walking around or a combination of both at the same time.  Not much happens, let's face it.  But once March hits, the games finally begin.  These games are not exactly competitive, I admit, what with players out of the game doing drills in the outfield, during play and non-athletes trying their hand at the national pastime.  In fact, I'm curious if Maria Menounos will be trying her luck on the pitcher's mound considering her successful stint as the Celtics' play-by-play person last weekend. 

A multitude of stories really begin to take shape once the games start as well.  What's going to happen to Mike Lowell?  Is Daisuke ready to return to his form of...2008 (I don't know if he has ever had a form to return to, he's always been shaky)?  Is David Ortiz finally going to admit that he's 42 years old?  When I saw a promo on NESN for the Red Sox doubleheader against the national college powerhouses Northeastern and Boston College, the most important question to my seven year old also surfaced.  "Why is that guy named, Boof?"  Good question.  I have to admit that I didn't know that much about Boof Bonser either except that the Red Sox traded a minor leaguer to the Twins for Bonser during the offseason.  Not quite the splash that John Lackey and Adrian Beltre had, but still Boof Bonser could turn out to be the most important acquisition of the Red Sox offseason.

With that said, we went to discover more about this enigmatic hurler.  Below are the four most important facts about the Red Sox new middle man, from the hand of my seven year old.

1.  "On November 14, 2003 he was traded to the Minnesota twins."

In what could have turned out to be the most lopsided trade in the history of Major League Baseball, the Twins traded pain-in-the-ass catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Bonser.  As with Bonser, Liriano had a stellar rookie season in 2006 but got injured and has not lived up to the lofty expectations since.  Joe Nathan in 6 years holds the Twins record of career saves with 246 and has appeared in 4 All Star Games.  The moral to the story is that it is always risky to trade for young pitchers (no matter how good the Red Sox tell you they are).

2.  "Bonser gothis first win on May 27, 2006"

"got his."  Bear in mind that he was writing this biography as extra credit so he could stay up later.  I think he was getting tired at thispoint.  After an outstanding debut game against the Milwaukee Brewers, where he took the loss despite striking out 8 and giving up 1 run over 6 innings, Bonser secured his first win against the Seattle Mariners in his next start, despite giving up 8 hits and 4 runs in 5 innings and needing a triple play to get out of bases loaded jam.

3.  "On Febuary 25, 2009, he had surgery and couldn't throw balls."

2009 was a tough year for Bonser. After experiencing arm trouble in 2007 and 2008, particularly at the end of 2008 when he was assigned to the Twins' bullpen, Bonser finally underwent surgery to repair damage to his Labrum and Rotator Cuff.  The surgery kept him out of the rotation for all of 2009.  Based on his performance in 2008, the time off and subsequent change of scenery can only help his career.

4.  "and he was tradded to the Boston Red sox"

That's right.  On February 25, 2009, Bonser was traded to the Red Sox for a player to be named later (Chris Province, I have no idea, either).  Bonser enters this Spring fighting with the other Ramon Ramirez, former cast off Brian Shouse and a couple of ball boys for the last spot on the Red Sox pitching staff.  If he makes the roster, he could become an integral part of the Red Sox title hopes.  With injuries constantly striking Beckett and Wakefield and inconsistency plaguing Daisuke Matsuzaka, a reliable seventh starter could become an important piece to the Red Sox success, believe it or not.  Also working in his favor is that even when he is ptching well, Daisuke usually only lasts until the fifth inning.  I don't know about you, but I can't watch Manny Delcarmen pitch against the Yankees in the 6th inning of a 5-4 game; I just can't.  The middle innings can't be relegated to mop up duty anyway, since the Red Sox offense figures to be a little weaker this year.  

*  *  *  *  *

Bonser makes his Red Sox debut tomorrow against Boston College.  He figures on pitching for a couple of innings or 40-50 pitches, whichever comes first.  Undoubtedly, this game will go a long way in determining Bonser's career path with the Red Sox, since he is out of options and can't be sent to the minors without passing through waivers.  Here's hoping he makes it, just so we have something to snicker at during a long season of pitching and defense.  That reminds me, John Paul Bonser, paying homage to his Mother who gave him the original nickname as a child, legally changed his name to "Boof" in 2001.  I'm afraid to ask what would cause a Mother to nickname his son "Boof."  All I know is that my kids won't be given any nickname that will get his butt kicked in school.   

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