Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Bailey’
Some Spring Training stories worth noting:
- It’s interesting that Nick Cafardo writes some MLB executives are expecting “dramatic changes” in player performance with the improved PED testing that is taking place. What Cafardo left unsaid with the expectation of lower power numbers is that baseball executives believe there is a significant level of “cheating” (by using PEDs) still in the game. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am.
- It continues to be a bumpy road for Tigers rookie closer Bruce Rondon. Like the idea of Boston targeting a starter like Rick Porcello (can never have enough quality, young arms) in a deal involving Andrew Bailey, if Detroit looks for other bullpen options.
- Keep an eye on Tyler Colvin of the Rockies – as a potential David Ortiz (short-term, hopefully) replacement with Big Papi’s injury woes continuing. Colvin is a lefty hitter best suited for a platoon situation. Also, he can play first base and outfield. The Rockies are going nowhere this season so would be looking for young talent in return. And looks like we can cross Manny Ramirez off the potential replacement list – he is headed to Taiwan to play.
- Red Sox backup catcher David Ross walked through the best pitches he has caught. There are a couple of Eric Gagne references (fastball, change-up) – showing clearly Ross was a Gagne teammate in Los Angeles and not part of Gagne’s disastrous Red Sox career.
What has caught your eye this week in Spring Training?
A quick look at some Spring Training updates.
- Keep an eye on Tigers Closer. It is still early in Spring Training but the poor start by Tigers rookie Bruce Rondon has got to have Detroit brass rethinking making him the closer. The Tigers have a big payroll and an 80+ year old owner – the time to win is now. Andrew Bailey could provide a more stable alternative to Rondon. Detroit starter Rick Porcello could be a good way for the teams to match up in a deal. You can never have enough starting pitching.
- Webster watch. Allen Webster did it again – turning in another strong pitching performance today. Even if he keeps this up, I don’t expect it will change Boston’s plans for Webster to start in the minors. But it could help Webster get on an accelerated pace to advance to Fenway sometime during the season. And fellow ex-Dodger Rubby De La Rosa looks good too. The Adrian Gonzalez et al to the Dodgers trade looks better every day.
- Big Papi getting closer. Good news from Ft. Myers that David Ortiz should be playing in games soon. Let’s hope he follows the course of Mike Napoli by easily (so far) transitioning into games.
The Red Sox strengthened the back-end of their bullpen – acquiring All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan from the Pirates, without giving up a single player that matters to them in 2013 (and beyond).
The move is a clear no confidence vote in Andrew Bailey – who will yield his closer role to Hanrahan and slide into a set-up role, unless Boston deals him.
Of course, Bailey did nothing to earn Boston’s confidence, having his annual injury early in the season and then pitching poorly late in the season. Bailey had a 7.04 ERA and six saves in nine opportunities.
Look at Hanrahan as a one-year investment. He is a free agent after the 2013 season – so Hanrahan is well-incented to turn in a big year. Hanrahan says he is looking forward to the intensity of the AL East.
Hanrahan is not without risk – but almost every closer has risk – as evidenced by the jump in his walks last season.
- Mark Melancon, who failed to deliver in his one season with the Red Sox and will play a set-up role in Pittsburgh.
- Jerry Sands, a power hitter who came to Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez trade – but unproven in the majors.
- Stomly Pimentel, a pitching prospect who has yet to put it together enough to graduate from AA Portland.
- Ivan DeJesus, an infielder that Boston removed from their 40 man roster.
And the Red Sox also acquired infielder Brock Holt, who has hit well in the minors but not considered a top prospect.
- The trade is another signal that Boston plans on contending not just rebuilding in 2013. This has not been an off-season where the Red Sox acquired big names – but the team has added a solid group of veterans with a number of them looking to rebound from down years.
- Speaking of rebounds – look for Hanrahan to improve on last year’s performance. Both Hanrahan and the Red Sox say they have identified the source of his wildness last season.
- The Red Sox have a strong group in the bullpen – depth which can come in handy in supporting a weak starting staff. And provides trade options including potentially moving Hanrahan at the mid-season trade break if the Sox are out of contention.
What do you think the Red Sox should do next in building their 2013 roster?
Bailey Hurt. Closer Andrew Bailey has an injury-prone track record in his career. And he is now reporting a thumb injury that will send Bailey to Boston to have it checked. It may be nothing serious – however, the Red Sox don’t need uncertainty in their closer spot. Mark Melancon can step in – but moving him from set-up man shrinks the bullpen. If Bailey’s injury lingers – or if another pops up – it will be interesting to see if the Red Sox move Alfredo Aceves to closer or consider bringing Daniel Bard back to the bullpen.
25th Man. The Red Sox are leaning towards keeping a position player instead of another bullpen arm in the last roster spot. Former manager Terry Francona kept things pretty stable in the everyday line-up – and during the game. The extra bench player is probably an indication of Bobby Valentine’s more aggressive “style” – having someone for pinch-running, bunt situations and defensive switches. Top contenders: infielders Pedro Ciriaco and Nate Spears and outfielder Jason Repko. However, with Bailey’s injury – the Red Sox may need to reconsider and add some bullpen depth by carrying a 13th pitcher.
Down on the Farm. The Red Sox have some help in nearby Pawtucket with Jose Iglesias, Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Lavarnway opening with the PawSox. Expect all three to play in Fenway sometime during this season. Here is a list where each of Boston’s top 20 prospects will be playing. Keep an eye on: Xavier Bogaerts – a potential elite shortstop, Anthony Ranaudo – does he establish himself as a top starter and Blake Swihart – a top 2011 draft pick playing in Greenville.
Ross Red-Hot. I am not a big believer in Spring Training statistics but Cody Ross’ power display this spring has been impressive. Ross is shaping up to be an excellent acquisition by GM Ben Cherington. Look for Ross to hit 20+ home runs this season – filling in for Carl Crawford in left and then getting the bulk of the playing time in right when Crawford returns from the disabled list.
Josh Beckett is the most pivotal player to Red Sox success in 2012.
Beckett is supposed to be the pitching staff leader – on and off the field.
A role he failed in last season.
And remember 2011 was going to be a bounce-back year for Beckett after he failed miserably in 2010 by delivering only six wins.
With a couple of World Series rings, Beckett shows all the signs of a player who just doesn’t have the “fire in his belly” any longer.
Boston’s starting staff has a bunch of question marks.
- Can Clay Buchholz comeback from a back injury?
- Will Daniel Bard make the transition to starter?
- And will someone nail down the fifth starter role and hold it consistently through the season? Or will the Red Sox have a revolving door?
The Red Sox don’t need Beckett adding to the question list.
Boston needs Beckett – along with Jon Lester – to answer the bell strongly in April and carry the rotation all the way through the end of the season.
AL East competitors New York and Tampa Bay have excellent starting staffs. Boston needs to match them to compete for a playoff spot.
Here’s the stat that tells the Kevin Youkilis story:
- In the last three seasons, Youkilis has played in 358 games, compared to J.D Drew who played in 357.
Youkilis will be 33 years old this season – can he bounce back from two mediocre seasons?
Or is Youkilis in an irreversible decline?
The Red Sox need the Youkilis of 2009 – when he delivered .305 AVG., .413 OBP, 27 HR, 94 RBIs.
His offensive performance is pivotal – providing a righty, power bat every day in the middle of heavily left-handed lineup.
Getting Andrew Bailey was a good, low-cost pick-up by GM Ben Cherington.
But Bailey is a question mark – in the pivotal closer role.
He has never been a closer in a pennant race – never mind under the AL East spotlight.
And Bailey has had trouble staying healthy the last two seasons.
For instance, Oakland only got 41.2 innings from Bailey last year while Boston got 64.1 innings from Jonathan Papelbon.
Sure, the Red Sox have Mark Melancon who can slide into the closer role if Bailey gets hurt. But that move shortens Boston’s bullpen.
The baseball season is a grind.
Delivering throughout the 162 game season is this year’s challenge for Beckett, Youkilis and Bailey. And we won’t know if they are up to it until October 3 when the regular season ends.
And the Red Sox fortunes may rise or fall based on these pivotal players.
Cherington Primed. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington says his focus in player acquisition has been getting players in their primes (examples: Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon). Cherington notes players in their prime ages are typically at their healthiest and strongest, writes John Tomase. Player to watch: Kevin Youkilis. In the last three years, Youkilis has played in 358 games, compared to J.D Drew who played in 357. Youk will be 33 years old this coming season. With top 3B prospect Will Middlebrooks at AAA Pawtucket and in the last year of his contract (with a team option); Youkilis needs to demonstrate he can still produce.
Papelbon Pumped. Old friend Jonathan Papelbon arrived at Phillies Spring Training and opened with a press conference – declaring he was ready to start a new chapter. When discussing Boston, Papelbon gave thumbs to new Red Sox closer Bailey – saying Bailey has what it takes to thrive in Boston. The pressure will be on Pap (nothing new there) – with Philadelphia called out by pundits for overpaying Papelbon. The Phillies are a veteran – borderline old – team and win now is the mantra. Papelbon will be counted on to deliver. That’s what he is getting the big bucks to do.
Red Sox in Five Years. ESPN ran an interesting feature projecting where each MLB team will stand in a power ranking five years from now (subscription required). It’s not going to get any easier for the Red Sox. Boston scored well, landing in the #5 spot – but looking up at AL East foes Yankees #2 and Rays #3. And the Blue Jays came in at #6. Expect continued heavy competition for playoff spots – even with an expanded playoff picture – in coming years. Texas was #1.
Brentz Ready to Bop. Red Sox OF prospect Bryce Brentz talks to MiLB.com about getting ready for the coming season. Brentz had a breakout year in 2011. Figure him to start the season playing again for high-A Salem with the opportunity to move to AA Portland if he shows he is ready for a promotion during the year. MiLB.com also spoke with former Boston prospect Casey Kelly as he prepared for Spring Training – who has a shot at the Padres rotation.
Here’s a quick tour of comments on some recent baseball news and analysis:
Yankees fail on Nakajima. The Yankees failure to sign Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima could provide an opportunity for the Red Sox in 2013. Marco Scutaro’s contract will be up at the end of 2012 and SS prospect Jose Iglesias may or may not be ready. Manager Bobby Valentine’s connections and experience in Japan should pave the way for the Red Sox to be in a good position to get Nakajima, if they want to go in that direction. Look at Seattle’s recent signing of Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma as providing the model. Iwakuma was posted last season – with Oakland grabbing his rights, only to not sign him. That made Iwakuma free to join any U.S. team without any posting fees this off-season. Nakajima will be in the same position next year. So the team signing Nakajima only expends salary – which makes him more attractive and potentially in position to get a more lucrative contract.
Ryan Sweeney. Al Melchior has an interesting post on notable trends in changing skills (for better and worse) of players in 2011. He calls out Sweeney for an improved batting eye, noting “In each of the previous two seasons, Sweeney had been gradually increasing his pitches per plate appearance, and in 299 plate appearances in 2011, his rate shot through the roof, increasing from 3.96 to 4.34. As a result, he registered the first double-digit walk rate (11 percent) of his major league career, as well as his highest walk-to-strikeout ratio as an Athletic.” Melchior sees the line-drive hitting Sweeney as potentially thriving in baseball’s best doubles-hitting park.
Bailey in Bullpen. Alex Speier talks Andrew Bailey’s college coach and the A’s scout who pushed for Oakland to draft him. With Wagner coach Joe Litterio expecting Bailey to respond well to the Fenway pressures saying, “This is his dream. I know that he’s going to take full advantage of this and do whatever it takes to stay healthy.” Ben Cherington has done well bringing in Bailey and Mark Melancon but in no way do they match the Jonathan Papelbon-Daniel Bard combo of last season. The back-end of the bullpen starts as a question mark in 2102. Although Brian McPherson sees Bailey-Melancon as a good fit.
Garza Price-Tag. Didier Morais reports the Cubs asking price for starter Matt Garza remains high with the Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox in the hunt (looks like Theo Epstein is trying to stoke a bidding war among his former brethren in the AL East). As noted in a previous post, I see Garza as Boston’s best option for a starter addition – given his AL East experience. Jed Hoyer’s knowledge of the Red Sox farm system paid off in making the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Perhaps, what Theo and Hoyer know about the system will help make a Garza deal.
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 Aceves – a 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.