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Red Sox Bullpen Shaping Up

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Good move by Ben Cherington picking up Andrew Bailey (and Ryan Sweeney) from Oakland for Josh Reddick and a pair of prospects.

Oakland is shedding salary – with Bailey in line to go to arbitration for the first time and get a contract in the $3.5-$4 million range – in an overt move to the bottom so there will be less uproar in Oakland when the team heads off to San Jose.

While Bailey and Mark Melancon add some quality to the relief corps – no way this combination is equal to the 2011 bullpen back-end of Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard.

And Bailey has had difficulty staying healthy in past seasons – but says this has been his “first healthy offseason” since he has been in the big leagues.

Boston is committed to giving Bard – and Alfredo Acevesa shot at the rotation in Spring Training.

Figure at least one pitcher between Bard and Aceves will be back in the pen – giving the Red Sox a good trio for next season.

But will that be enough?

Before the Bailey trade, ESPN’s Buster Olney ranked baseball’s top bullpens (subscription required) and the Red Sox were not in the top ten list.

Playoff competitors Yankees (#2) and Rangers (tie for #10) made the list – along with the Indians (#4).

But no Rays, Blue Jays, Tigers or Angels – all teams in the AL East and/or AL playoff competition.

Look for all these teams – plus the Red Sox – to continue to tinker with their bullpens this offseason.

Name to watch: Grant Balfour – another potential salary dump by Oakland.

Quick Thoughts on Sweeney

Sweeney is a nice throw-in to the deal. Terrific defensive outfielder with a strong arm – and can play all three outfield positions.

His hitting pegs him as a lefty hitting platoon player – with not a lot of pop in his bat.

Who will be Sweeney’s platoon partner? Right now, it’s shaping up as either Darnell McDonald or Mike Aviles.

A Sweeney – McDonald/Aviles combination won’t strike fear in opposing pitchers but Boston has plenty of offense. And has pitching needs that are greater than adding another outfielder.

If the Red Sox make a move, a name to watch is free agent Cody Ross.

I don’t see Cuban prospect Yoenis Cespedes coming to Boston – given the cheapskate approach by the Red Sox this offseason.

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