Michael Bowden's major league career hasn't exactly gotten off to the start he or the Red Sox would have liked, but it's too early to label him a bust just yet.
Just four months ago, the Red Sox were hesitant to include the then-22-year-old in deadline deals after another solid season in Triple-A. At that point, Bowden was viewed as the next best option to Clay Buchholz in the Red Sox' minor league system, and the right-hander's impressive climb had many teams asking for him to be included in any deal.
After being hyped up by the front office and put into the same conversation with Buchholz and Daniel Bard, Bowden failed to impress on the big stage once he was finally given a chance. And in the wake of a disappointing result in 2009 for the Red Sox, many fans and critics are calling for the club to make a blockbuster deal to answer the Yankees' spending spree from last winter. Any such deal would likely include Bowden.
But even after a rocky start to his career in the majors and the team's first-round postseason exit, all hope shouldn't be lost on the young righty.
Most people remember Bowden's short-lived stint with the Red Sox in 2009 by his performances against the Yankees, which included the good, the bad and the ugly. But no one's ability and talent should be judged on just three outings, even if they were against the world champions.
Bowden pitched two scoreless innings in relief against the Yankees in April before being sent back to the minors until August. However, the next time he saw a major league mound was against a much different Yankees team.
After his two scoreless frames in April, Bowden needed 63 pitches to get six outs against the Bombers in August. The Yankees tagged him for seven runs, eight hits and three walks, as he was left on the mound to try to mop up a mess left by Brad Penny.
Bowden put together three consecutive solid performances following the beat down from the Bombers. But then the Yankees, again, brought him back down to earth on Sept. 25, as he allowed two runs on three hits in just 2 1/3 innings.
Now 23, Bowden's sample size in the majors is still microscopic, with just 21 innings, two starts and nine total appearances under his belt. But in a city where baseball is played with a football mentality and every loss is devastating, Bowden's lack of immediate success and his frightening 8.14 ERA over those nine games has made him a sports-radio scapegoat for a big trade this offseason.
If Bowden can be packaged for a big arm or big bat, then so be it — it's usually the right play to give up what might be for what already is. But to project Bowden's future off a few sloppy performances simply isn't the right play.
With 103 minor league starts to his name, and 69 of those between Double-A and Triple-A, it's hard to overlook a career 3.15 ERA from the farm. However, that is exactly what is happening: The Bowden hype has died down, and the belief in his abilities has been lost.
There is a good chance Michael Bowden won't be on the Red Sox' opening day roster for 2010, whether it's because he was involved in a deal or because he couldn't crack the roster out of spring training. But at some point he will get a real shot in the bigs, and don't be surprised if he makes a name for himself. It just might not be in a Red Sox uniform.
NESN.com will be answering one Red Sox question every day in November.
Friday, Nov. 13: Who's the No. 3 starter in the rotation?
Sunday, Nov. 15: Who?s the Red Sox? next breakout position player prospect?