Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Busts Pt. 6: Steve Avery

Sometimes, offseason acquisitions work out. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they are spectacular failures.

After Roger Clemens left as a free agent to Toronto, Red Sox GM Dan Duquette scrambled to find some pitching to make up for the loss. He signed Bret Saberhagen to a bargain-basement deal even though he was to miss most of the season while recovering from surgery. He signed Robinson Checo out of Japan, even though he was not ready for the Major Leagues. And he signed a former 18 game winner with the vaunted Atlanta Braves pitching rotation in the early 1990's.

The only problem was that Steve Avery had been on the decline every year since that time, possibly a product of too many innings at too young of an age.

Steve Avery is one of the major reasons the Red Sox were terrible in 1997. He was expected to be a replacement for Clemens, who was supposed to have been on the decline himself. Avery was a washout. In 1997, Avery went 6-7 with a 6.42 ERA and 51 strikeouts. He was injured often. Yet, for some reason manager Jimy Williams decided to pitch him often enough for his option to vest.

Avery was a little better in 1998. The pressure was off as Tim Wakefield had a good year and Pedro Martinez stepped into the ace role. Even Bret Saberhagen was making a successful comeback. Avery only had to be the fourth starter. He went 10-7 with a 5.02 ERA and 57 strikeouts. Adequate numbers for a number four. But he was not the pitcher he was expected to be.

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