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The Last (of) DJ

by Mike DePilla
Monday, December 14, 2009

A day after the Sox added JJ, they subtracted DJ.

DJ Carrasco, a man Ozzie Guillen called his "MVP" out of the bullpen mere months ago, is now out of a job, as he was non-tendered at Saturday's deadline for arbitration-eligible players. The sticking point? A couple hundred thousand dollars.

While some around the organization saw this move coming in the last week (Mark Gonzales of the Trib was all over it) and the Sox have a plethora of internal options to replace him, it is still a surprising move.

Carrasco was the most used pitcher in the AL last year- in 93.1 innings he posted a 3.76 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. If there was a stat for saving a pitching staff (vs. saving "games"), Carrasco would have led the team, and maybe the league, in it, as he took several bullets for a beleaguered relief corps and a starting staff that had trouble getting past 4 or 5 innings. Who else would mop up after the Jose Contreras 3-Inning Meltdown Special?

His versatility came in especially handy in those situations. He could start in an emergency (remember July 31, the day Sox traded Clayton Richard and needed a last-second starter against the Yankees?) and go in back to back games, which is more than you could say for Scott Linebrink and, toward the end of the season, Bobby Jenks.

How will his loss affect the team?

It's true that Carrasco pitched a bit over his head last year, and Dan Hudson, Clevelan Santeliz, Jhonny Nunez, Sergio Santos, Carlos Torres and Brandon Hynick all represent internal options that are likely to put up more or less the same production in a mop up role in '10 and beyond.

Still, it's only going to save you $400,000 or $500,000. Will those savings be meaningful in the pursuit of another hitter? And when Freddy Garcia goes down to injury in June, who will back up Hudson if he's not ready/not effective in the 6th starter role?

Kenny Williams is clearly more focused on adding a bat at this point, and is trying to scrape together as many nickels and dimes as possible to have the greatest impact. Though I wouldn't discount there being some kind of disharmony behind the scenes: Carrasco wanted to be a starter, and maybe he had a prickly personality that rubbed Williams the wrong way. To cut someone over $500,000, you either are really hard up for cash or there's more going on than meets the eye.

Nonetheless, Carrasco's departure officially makes announcer Darrin Jackson, as far as the Sox are concerned, The Last DJ.

And now that he doesn't work with the tyrannical Hawk anymore, he really can say what wants to say.

Hey, hey, hey.

Tom Petty would be proud.

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