Bailey fills big hole, creates options for Red Sox

Bailey fills big hole, creates options for Red Sox
December 29, 2011, 2:25 am
Share This Post

BOSTON -- The Red Sox plugged one of their major offseason holes Wednesday afternoon, acquiring Andrew Bailey in a trade with the Oakland As, with outfielder Ryan Sweeney, in exchange for outfielder Josh Reddick and two minor leaguers, first baseman Miles Head and right-hander Raul Alcantara.

Bailey, who will turn 28 in May, will take the place of closer Jonathan Papelbon. He finished 2011 with 24 saves, 11th in the American League, in 26 chances. He threw 41 23 innings in 42 appearances, with a 1.20 WHIP and 3.24 ERA. In 2009, he was named American League Rookie of the Year, with a record of 6-3, 1.84 ERA, 26 saves, a 9.8 K9 ratio, and 0.876 WHIP.

He's under club control for three more years, and eligible for arbitration now for the first time.

As one major league scout said, Its risky but a good acquisition by the Sox if Bailey stays healthy.

That has been an issue in the last few years. His saves totals have gone down in each of the last three seasons -- 26, 25, and 24 saves, respectively -- as have his appearances and innings pitched -- 68, 47, and 42 appearances, with 83 13, 49, and 41 23 innings each.

Bailey, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2006, did not begin his2011 season until May 29, starting the season on the disabled list because of a forearm strain. He also was hit in the left temple by a line drive off the bat of teammate Kurt Suzuki during batting practicein September.

Sox general manager Ben Cherington is confident Bailey is healthy.

We had a chance to look into Baileys medical history and get to know a lot about what hes gone through, Cherington said. He had Tommy John surgery I guess five years ago now and hes fully recovered from that. He had some elbow symptoms in 2010 and had a minor procedure, relatively minor procedure after the 2010 season. He then came to spring training in 2011 and perhaps ramped up too quickly and had a little bit of a setback and appeared to be some scar tissue breakup and some minor soft tissue injury.

"This past spring training he was able to recover from that, get back to pitching and perform well. His stuff and his performance were solid down the stretch and he was asymptomaticfor the rest of the season after he came back. We are very confident hell come into camp ready to go and ready to help our team in 2012.

The acquisition of Bailey allows the Sox to continue with their plan to bring Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves into camp as starters. Whether they remain in the rotation will be determined by their performances and how well they adapt to the change in spring training.

The acquisition also allows them to set up their bullpen. Mark Melancon, acquired in a trade with the Astros earlier this month, moves into a middle relief or setup role, a role more suited to his abilities than that of closer in the A.L. East. Bobby Jenks will also be in the mix for the set-up role, but he is coming off a pulmonary aneurysm and a procedure on his back earlier this month.