Jack Curry calls it “inexplicable”

Jack Curry calls it “inexplicable” in today’s Times that Theo didn’t claim Nelson off of waivers, preventing him from going to the Yankees. I was thinking about that, because I wondered as well why he didn’t make that claim move. It seemed obvious that Armando was still a bit shaky in pressure situations and that he was a potential liability for the Yankees. Considering Nelson is battle-tested, can deal with New York, has WS experience, it does make you wonder. But, looking at the Red Sox roster with Embree and Sauerbeck as the lefties in the ‘pen, and Williamson, Timlin, Mendoza, Jones, and Kim as the righties in the ‘pen (with Jones making the ML minimum), where would Theo put Nellie? He isn’t going to ditch either Embree or Sauerbeck, and if he did he would have been taking the (admittedly small) risk that the Mariners would not pull Nelson back. Mendoza is the likliest candidate to go, but they are paying him a lot (this year AND next) and adding Nelson’s salary to that means they are paying Nelson almost 3 million bucks to finish the season in Boston with Mendoza available for the minimum on the waiver wire and the Sox on the hook for next year at something like another 3 million (picking up Nelson is therefore a $7M move, and that doesn’t include Nelson’s replacement next year since he’s a FA). If the Mariners do let him go (which was probably unlikely, honestly, and the biggest monkey wrench in this whole line of reasoning), then Theo would have been faced with dumping a lefty and the Yankees then potentially picking that person up for nothing. Now how would THAT have gone over in Boston? Poorly, I am guessing, and the Yankees press and fans would have had an even bigger field day harping on Theo’s inexperience, with good reason (the Sox give the Yankees a needed lefty reliever or experienced player in the heat of the race for nothing? That’s a PR and job-performance A-Bomb). Curry makes it seem like Nelson’s salary is nothing to the Sox (it’s not much by itself, for sure, but it’s not close to “nothing” when you factor in the potential roster-move implications – it was a potentially $8M claim, in the worst-case scenario. It’s nothing to the Yankees, clearly, since they are paying both Nelson and Benitez even though Benitez doesn’t play for them anymore). So with a bit of rumination it isn’t “inexplicable” at all. Theo must have thought through the whole risk-reward equation, if I can do it in ten minutes. He must have simply decided that the potential 8M cost of claiming Nellie wasn’t worth the possibility of having the Mariners revoke Nelson’s waivers. It is, however an admittedly questionable non-move, if you can say with reasonable certainty that the Mariners wouldn’t have let Nelson go.