Last spring, baseball fantasy team managers were a lot like Bobby Valentine, the real manager of the Boston Red Sox. The assumption was that the Red Sox would give the ball to Andrew Bailey in the ninth inning, and watch the saves pile up.
Bailey was acquired by the Red Sox in the offseason after longtime closer Jonathan Papelbon departed for a huge free agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Bailey came to Boston with outfielder Ryan Sweeney in a trade for outfielder Josh Reddick.
But before the season even began, the Red Sox discovered that Bailey had a thumb injury. Later, it was determined that he would need thumb surgery. On August 14, the Red Sox activated Bailey for the first time all season.
Bailey is saying the right things as he returns, maintaining that he just wants to pitvch and does not care what his role is, as long as he can play.
"I don't really care, I just want to pitch," Bailey says. "At this point, I've missed enough time to know that 'Hey, he's done a hell of a job this year and the bullpen has been great all year,' so for me, I just want to find my role -- whatever that is -- and finish the year and get to the playoffs."
But fantasy owners who have the Red Sox current closer, Alfredo Aceves, on their active roster know that his job is not that secure. Yes, Aceves has converted 23 save opportunities, but he has blown six saves as well, and has been dreadful in allowing inherited runners to score.
Fantasy owners looking for a way to pick up saves in the final six weeks of the season should be looking to take a flyer on Bailey. He saved 26, 25 and 24 games for an A's team without all that many wins in the last three seasons, and has a career ERA of just 2.07. That is, coincidentally, exactly half the 4.14 ERA that Aceves has compiled while closing for the Red Sox this season. It doesn't take a professional fantasy expert to see which way the wind is going to blow at Fenway Park.
"I'm just going to be ready when the phone rings, so I have no expectations whatsoever," Bailey maintains. "We're at a point in time where we've got to start winning ballgames -- everyone knows that."
Rick Blaine, an award-winning broadcaster and columnist, is a lifelong Red Sox fan. Follow him on Twitter @RickBlaineCT.
- Sports & Recreation
- Boston Red Sox
- Andrew Bailey
- Alfredo Aceves