Red Sox Bolster Bullpen with Andrew Bailey: Fan Reaction

On December 28, the Boston Red Sox took a big step toward rebuilding their bullpen by acquiring closer Andrew Bailey from the Oakland Athletics. Along with Bailey, the Red Sox also received outfielder Ryan Sweeney in a trade for outfielder Josh Reddick, minor league infielder Miles Head and minor league pitcher Raul Alcantara. With Jonathan Papelbon out and Daniel Bard looking to move into the starting rotation, the Red Sox picked up their second quality reliever in as many weeks to take the high-leverage relief innings.

Bailey likely steps in as Boston's new closer with Mark Melancon serving as his primary setup man. Through three seasons in the majors, Bailey boasts a strikeout rate of exactly one per inning with a 206 ERA+ (league average is 100). His platoon split bodes well overall as he has allowed a .504 OPS to right-handed hitters and a .565 OPS to lefties in his career. Health is the primary concern for Bailey who hasn't broken the 50 inning mark since his 2009 Rookie of the Year season.

The Red Sox's latest move paints a picture of what the bullpen should look like in 2012. Bailey and Melancon look to take the closer and number one setup duties respectively. Barring a move to the rotation, Alfredo Aceves returns to his successful role as an all-purpose relief arm who can take setup duties, throw multiple innings in long relief and make spot starts.

Familiar faces should round out the rest of the bullpen. Matt Albers pitched a great first-half and a bad second-half in 2011 and he returns to Boston on a one-year contract. Bobby Jenks, who struggled to stay on the field in 2011, has one more year on his contract. Franklin Morales proved highly effective as the situational lefty following a midseason trade and that job likely remains his; Felix Doubront, who is out of minor league options, could join Morales as the second lefty. Lefty Andrew Miller will also compete for a bullpen job.

Reddick goes to Oakland looking for a stable starting job. He has nice pop and a great looking swing, but his plate discipline comes and goes and he has always been very streaky throughout his career in both the major and minor leagues. The other two Red Sox in the deal, Head and Alcantara are high-ceiling prospects, but they are both years away from having a chance at making an impact.

Without Reddick in the mix, the Red Sox now have an opening in right field. They could look for a low-cost option on the free agent market or stick with their in-house options and give Ryan Kalish a chance to earn the job as the season progresses. Sweeney, Darnell McDonald and Kalish top the depth chart at right field among currently signed personnel.

Sources:

Didier Morais, "Red Sox acquire closer Andrew Bailey, Ryan Sweeney from Oakland in exchange for Josh Reddick, prospects," December 28, 2011, NESN.com

Baseball-Reference.com

SoxProspects.com

William Menna is a native New Englander and longtime Boston sports fan.

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Updated Thursday, Dec 29, 2011