Bailey fills big hole, creates options for Red Sox


Bailey fills big hole, creates options for Red Sox

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.

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.