In a small Nor’easter of moves today, the Boston Red Sox designated Daniel Nava for assignment. Nava was once an important piece of the 2013 championship team, which feels like 1993 after being rusted and cracked by the suffering of the last season and a half. Back in 2007, the Sox purchased the rights to Nava’s contract from the Chico Outlaws of the Independent Golden Baseball League for a mere dollar. Most Sox fans who haven’t drunk away their hippocampus’s functionality in the last 16 months will fondly remember his first major league at bat.
Nava, who will most likely become a free agent after the season, was moved to make room for extra bullpen arms, since the Sox starters are seemingly only under contract to go three or four innings per start.
Jean Machi – a waiver claim from the San Francisco Giants – and Jonathan Aro are the new ‘pen arms tasked with applying gauze to open wounds and scrambling for the QuikClot. In 35 innings this year, Machi sports a 5.14 ERA, 1.486 WHIP, and an ever-so-slightly encouraging FIP of 4.22, according to Baseball Reference. Aro, having only appeared in three games (4.2 IP) for the Sox, has an ERA of 11.57 (4.57 FIP) and a 2.571 WHIP, which seems to translate into acquiescing to pushing cannon fodder out there for the rest of the season. Granted, that is the tiniest of sample sizes (as far as Aro goes), but it isn’t like they’re gonna be trotting out even a Mike Timlin or Keith Foulke to save the day. Maybe I’m a slave to the past after the 2014 train wreck and this year. Can you blame me, or any other Sox fans who might feel the same way? No.
On the other hand, Nava has clearly regressed, so it isn’t as if we’ll be cutting ourselves in the bathroom while drinking mouthwash, because we miss his bat so dearly. Nava’s exsanguinated slash line of .152/.260/.182 for the season is due in part to inconsistent playing time (a glut of outfielders) and a decline in skillset. According to Brooks Baseball PITCHf/x tabular data, since the beginning of the 2014 season, Nava is hitting .210 against opposing pitchers’ four seam fastballs with an ISO of .126. At 32, it seems unlikely that his bat would begin to catch up to fastballs at more successful rates, so this is actually a decent decision by the Sox. That is speaking logically and, of course, there will always be the sentimental attachment that fans have to a guy who was a real boot straps kind of success story.
So, let’s raise a glass to Daniel James Nava as he packs his bags and signs his name inside the Green Monster. It is doubtful we’ll see you back at the Fens. Go gently into that Pawtucket night.