Prior to Tuesday night’s Yankees’ 3-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, the story was not about the Yankees winning 15 of their last 16 games or being a game out of first place in the AL East or whether or not the longstanding rivalry is back.
It was the news that took place prior to the game that certainly has Red Sox Nation and New England talking.
The Red Sox announced David Price will not start Wednesday night’s game against the Yankees after experiencing numbness in his pitching hand. It will be Rick Porcello on the mound instead.
It’s interesting this news came out on the day of the series. With the Yankees hitting well and winning games these days and Price once again struggling to live up to his seven-year, $217 million contract, it was too much for the Red Sox to take. Hard to sell that this is a coincidence. Not when the Red Sox southpaw was coming off an awful start in which he gave up seven earned runs in 3 ⅔ innings against the Texas Rangers. Not when he is 1-4 with an 8.22 ERA in his last five starts. Not when he was removed after one inning due to numbness in his start against the Yankees on April 11.
Price has been known to be one of the most durable starters in baseball, so are we now led to believe that he is all of a sudden hurt? MLB teams tend to put starters on the mythical disabled list if they are not performing as a way of covering for them. We would not be hearing this if the one-time ace was pitching lights out.
If the Red Sox can’t trust Price against the Yankees, what makes anyone think he can be trusted to pitch against elite teams like the Houston Astros or Cleveland Indians, especially in the postseason? They are not sending him the right message that they believe in him by having him skip his start, and he knows it as much as anyone. It’s hard to believe he wants to skip this start. He would be happy to pitch hurt if he had to. Remember this is a guy who pitched in a 38 degree weather in Detroit that felt like 20 degrees against the Yankees in April 2015 as a member of the Detroit Tigers, even though he allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 2 ⅓ innings in that start.
This has not been a good run for Price in Boston. Not only has he stunk, but he has had incidents with the Boston media and he even got into it with NESN analyst and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on a Red Sox plane last year as the Red Sox were heading to Toronto to play a series with the Toronto Blue Jays. Skipping him against the Yankees is not helping his cause with the Red Sox fans, even though the Red Sox are claiming they are protecting him.
If the Red Sox can release Price, they can, but they will not pay him to go away or reach a buyout when he still has four years to go in his contract after this season. Trading him is out of the question since no team would want him at his price. Let this be a lesson to MLB teams for the umpteenth time. Don’t sign a pitcher in his 30s to a long-term deal. It never ends well. One would think teams would learn after Kevin Brown turned out to be a bust for the Los Angeles Dodgers when they signed him to a once-record seven-year, $105-million contract in 1998.
They are stuck with him whether they like it or not, and vice versa.
The Red Sox did not think Price would be this bad in his first few years. He certainly has no answers to his struggles. Yes, he was going to lose his effectiveness as he was in his 30s, but he did not think he was going to lose it altogether. The Red Sox have been trying everything to jumpstart him, and it has not worked. They will continue to do so since they have to get something out of him during the duration of his contract.
The Red Sox fans have no sympathy towards the beleaguered pitcher that is making $31 million a year, and they shouldn’t. They want him to produce. A sterling performance against the Yankees would have been a start, but the Red Sox are not even giving him that opportunity when they are skipping his start. The blame will go to Price fair or not because he is not qualified enough to make a start against the Yankees.
This just looks like a point of no return for Price and the Red Sox. Once the team loses a player, it can never get him back. There’s no way he could be happy that the team is skipping his start since they don’t believe in him.
From the outside looking in, the Red Sox are helping themselves and Price. But long-term ramifications will have an effect. Both clearly don’t trust each other, and the Red Sox have made him look like a wimp.
The Red Sox are worrying about today rather than tomorrow. They will address it when they have to. Their main concern is fending off the surging Yankees, and Porcello gives them the best chance to do it than Price.
This isn’t what Price and the Sox signed up for when both agreed on a marriage couple of years ago.
This baseball marriage makes an arranged marriage look pleasant.