"Manny Moments" became regular occurrences for Red Sox fans during Manny Ramirez's tenure in Boston. The instances stopped once the Sox dealt Ramirez to the Dodgers at the 2008 trade deadline, but expect "Manny Being Manny" to make its triumphant return this season.
Boston relief pitcher Manny Delcarmen won't enter the Green Monster between innings for a bathroom break or hold up a sign suggesting a straight-up trade for Brett Favre, but he can give new meaning to the phrase "Manny Being Manny" by bouncing back from a rough 2009.
Delcarmen's 2009 was the tale of two seasons. It was the best of times for the Red Sox reliever before the All-Star break as Delcarmen posted a 2.41 ERA in 35 games, but the second half of the season became the worst of times as the right-hander posted a 7.47 ERA after the break.
Delcarmen must provide consistent innings from April to November for the Red Sox to win the World Series this season. Thankfully, Delcarmen has shown he has the talent to become a reliable bullpen option.
Delcarmen has shown he can be a dominant major league reliever. The former second-round draft pick has a powerful repertoire of pitches he can use to strike out batters, including a mid-to-high 90s fastball, a 12-to-6 curve and an improving changeup.
In addition, the right-hander showed he can be a strong presence in the Red Sox bullpen for an extended period of time. Delcarmen posted a 3.27 ERA in 73 appearances in 2008 and a 2.05 in 44 games in 2007.
The right-hander has shown he can dominate left-handed hitters as well. Lefties hit .221 versus Delcarmen last year, a stat that's both puzzling and impressive.
Despite his success, Terry Francona has shied away from using Delcarmen in big situations. In fact, the team has made trades to limit the relief pitcher’s role in previous seasons.
The Red Sox acquired Eric Gagne in 2007 from the Texas Rangers to provide Boston with a power pitcher for the eighth inning. Although Gagne did not pitch well for the Sox, the trade pushed Delcarmen out of an eighth- inning set-up role to Jonathan Papelbon and into the sixth and seventh innings.
A similar situation occurred last year when the Red Sox acquired Billy Wagner trom the New York Mets. Wagner became a successful eighth-inning reliever for Boston while Delcarmen pitched earlier in games.
Delcarmen will play an important role in Boston's bullpen this season. Wagner and Takashi Saito have joined the Atlanta Braves, and the Red Sox need Delcarmen to live up to his potential and provide consistent relief out of the bullpen.
Control is the key to Delcarmen's 2010 season. Delcarmen's lack of control of his pitches have frustrated Red Sox fans and management, but if he can control his pitches, he will be a dominant relief option in the bullpen, one who can help the Red Sox win the World Series.
Several factors may have contributed to Delcarmen's control issues last season. He can't blame his performance on the rain, but the Red Sox' acquisition of Victor Martinez could have impacted Delcarmen's ERA. Delcarmen posted a 5.25 ERA last August followed by a 14.14 ERA in September while Martinez was learning the Red Sox’ pitching staff. A full season of Martinez behind the plate should help Delcarmen along with the rest of the Red Sox' pitching staff.
Stamina may have been a contributor to Delcarmen's high ERA in August and September as well. The reliever must use spring training to build up strength to endure a 162-game regular season.
A strong start and a strong finish are critical to Delcarmen's success because the right-hander has an ERA below four in every month except April and September. If Delcarmen starts the season well, he should prove his worth as a reliever in the bullpen. If he finishes the regular season well, he'll prove his worth for the postseason.
If Delcarmen does his part, the Red Sox can look forward to the second coming of "Manny Being Manny" this season.
From now until Opening Day, NESN.com will run down 25 things that need to happen for the Red Sox to win the World Series.
March 22: Free-agent signings must perform.