Boston Red Sox

Free agency overview: Bullpen

Free agency overview: Bullpen

By Sean McAdam

Here is a look at the Red Sox' options in the bullpen. See links at the bottom of the story for an analysis of other positions.

Jonathan Papelbon returns as closer, with Daniel Bard as the principal setup man -- and closer-in-waiting for the inevitable free agent departure of Papelbon after the 2011 season.

Scott Atchison returns, having had his option picked up, and will be slotted into middle relief. Expect that Rich Hill, too, will return, as the Sox see some upside for him as a lefty specialist. That would seem to rule out Hideki Okajima, who is arbitration eligible. If Okajima is willing to take a significant pay cut -- from 2.75 million down to, say, 1.2 million or so -- the Sox might bring him back. Otherwise, he's an obvious non-tender candidate.

Unless the Sox want to utilize Felix Doubront out of the bullpen again, that leaves as many as four spots available in the bullpen. The Sox dearly need another trustworthy set-up option so as to not overburden Bard.

The good news: There are plenty of options available on the free-agent market, including many who were targets of the Red Sox at the July 31 deadline.

The bad news: The Sox hate the idea of giving multiyear deals to veteran relievers, believing (correctly) that they're often inconsistent and not sound investments for long-term deals.

Worse, the Sox might end up having to surrender draft picks as compensation since many of the best relievers have been classified as Type A in the Elias Ranking System. It's worth noting, however, that the Sox stand to get picks back should Martinez and Beltre sign elsewhere.

Scott DownsDowns was the most sought-after reliever at the deadline, but the Toronto Blue Jays held firm for their demand of two top prospects. He's left-handed and a power arm, which will put him in high demand.

Downs had a superb 0.995 WHIP last season, and walked just 14 in 61 13 innings, On the other hand, his strikeouts were down (just 7 per nine innings), and at 34, that's at least a little troublng.

Would the Sox be willing to go, say, two years, 12 million with an option for a third year? That's what it might take.

Grant BalfourBalfour has been a mainstay of the Tampa Bay bullpen for the last few years and, like Downs, will be in demand. He's proven to be durable, but over the last four seasons, here's the breakdown on his ERA: 7.66 in 2007, 1.54 in 2008, 4.81 in 2009 and 2.28 in 2010.

See what we mean about the unpredictability of veteran middle and set-up relievers?

Jason FrasorLike Downs, Frasor has been a big part of the Toronto bullpen in recent years. Over the last two seasons, Frasor has averaged 65 appearances and struck out a batter per innings.

There have been some questions about his toughness, but he won't be asked to close here -- or anywhere else, for that matter.
Brian Fuentes
Fuentes lost his closer's job to Fernando Rodney with the Angels prior to his trade to Minnesota -- just as he lost the closer's role in Colorado previous to that.

It's clear that he thrives more in a set-up capacity than in save situations.

He's left-handed, which adds to his value and to his attractiveness to the Red Sox, who could use some balance and a complement to the late-inning right-handed duo of Bard and Papelbon.

Fuentes doesn't throw as hard as he used to, but he's experienced and can still get hitters out.
Matt Guerrier
Guerrier has been one of the sturdiest relievers in the game in recent years, making 73 or more appearances in the last four seasons. He doesn't throw hard, relying more on a sinker-slider repertoire to induce groundballs, but he doesn't get hit a lot (114 hits allowed in his last 147 13 inning over the last two seasons).

Other names of noteJeremy Affeldt, Jesse Crain, Joaquin Benoit

OUTFIELD---> Will the Red Sox be willing to spend on the bigguns?

THIRDBASE ---> How will Theo Epstein deal with a thinmarket?

FIRSTBASE ---> Could a former Sox slugger be the answer in2011?

CATCHER---> Is there a bargain backstop to be had on thecheap?

BULLPEN---> Which relievers could be headed toBoston?

SeanMcAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Tanguay: David Price altercation worse than Red Sox 'chicken and beer' incident

Tanguay: David Price altercation worse than Red Sox 'chicken and beer' incident

Lou Merloni joins to discuss a source telling him Pedroia applauded Price for his altercation with Eckersley and Tanguay says this has been worse than the chicken and beer incident.

Tanguay: I officially hate the Red Sox

Tanguay: I officially hate the Red Sox

I hope the Red Sox lose every game the rest of season, except when Chris Sale pitches, and have no shot at the post season.

I hate them, I hate them, I hate them. What a bunch of babies!

Are they a professional sports organization or a pre-school? Right now they seem to be the latter, which makes them the highest valued pre-school, at 2.7 billion, in the history of pre-K academia.

When I read my friend Rob Bradford’s report that a source told him Dustin Pedroia was not near David Price when the crybaby lefty went after Dennis Eckersley on the team plane, I said, “ENOUGH!”

I yelled with the same tone I scream at my kids when they are fighting over something stupid.

I believe Rob Bradford, always have and always will. I also believe what Fred Toucher had to say on CSN this morning when he was told Dusty Two Sacks (Fred’s term) was one of the Price-ettes when they verbally mugged Eck. 

This is what happens with my kids. One says the other did it, then the other says the other did it. Well, you get the idea. Then I simply declare, “You’re all guilty.” I don’t care who hit whom when or took whatever from whom, just like I don’t care if Pedroia was cheering on the abuse of Eck or not. 


John Henry should be ashamed of the way his team has behaved. These grown men have all been acting like petulant children. I have seen plenty of immaturity over the years with the four local teams, but nothing like this.

One person, who is with the team on a regular basis, told me there is nothing to like about the players on this team. The inmates are running the asylum and playing the role of McMurphy is David Price. 

What a gutless, immature, little child. Is it any surprise that he wets his pants in the playoffs? Give him some Pampers for the postseason. Maybe that will help. 

Price claims to stand up for his teammates, which is bull. This guy is all about himself. His so-called sticking up for his mates has resulted in a media firestorm and finger-pointing in the clubhouse.

“Pedroia you were there.”

“No way, I wasn’t there.”

You know what Boston Red Sox? I wish you weren’t here at all.