He was the golden boy from down the block and once an important piece in a brilliant bullpen worthy of a world championship. But at just 28 years of age, the shine had come off Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen, and his trade Tuesday to Colorado comes as little surprise.
Delcarmen has progressively become more and more unreliable in the past two seasons amid shoulder issues, decreased velocity and a troubling increase in bases on balls. After a solid start to the 2010 campaign, he was hit hard in late June before going on the disabled list with a forearm injury. Since returning, he had the same number of walks as strikeouts and recently gave up a run in three straight outings, making him an even more expendable chip for an organization that wanted to get value for him when it could.
A native of the Hyde Park neighborhood in Boston, Delcarmen made just under $1 million this year and had two more arbitration years before becoming a free agent. He may not have been guaranteed a contract this coming offseason anyway. The deadline for such maneuvers comes in December. There is a chance the Sox would have let him become a free agent at that time rather than re-up him for a seven-figure salary.
With rosters being expanded to 40 players on Wednesday, the Red Sox will have other options to fill Delcarmen’s innings, which were becoming less and less significant as his struggles continued. Consider that in Delcarmen’s most active season with the club, 2008, he pitched in 48 games when his team held a lead and just 22 when they were behind, almost exclusively being relied upon to hold advantages.
In the two years since, he has worked in 43 games with Boston ahead and 52 while the team trailed. In August, the Sox were 1-9 when Delcarmen pitched, increasingly using him in mop-up roles.
While his final two seasons in Boston were erratic, Delcarmen will be remembered for some nice moments, a hometown boy done good. He really blossomed in the championship 2007 season, posting a 2.05 ERA in 44 appearances while showcasing a plus fastball and curveball as well as a changeup that made him tough on lefties. Between that year and 2008, Delcarmen had 113 strikeouts in 118 1/3 innings while walking 45 and posting a 1.082 WHIP.
Between 2009 and 2010, however, his ERA skyrocketed to 4.60 and his WHIP was 1.534. He had 76 strikeouts and 62 walks in 103 2/3 innings.
A change of scenery may do Delcarmen some good and the Rockies are in need of some bullpen help as they make their customary late-season charge for the wild card. He remains young and still shows flashes of the form that once made him an important piece of the bridge to Jonathan Papelbon.
However, Boston was not willing to wait for that form to come back, if it ever does. The hometown boy will get a chance to find himself elsewhere.