When the Red Sox were once again linked to the trade rumors of trying to acquire Andrew Bailey from the Oakland A’s, you couldn’t help but wonder how many prospects the club would have to give up to lure the closer from the Bay area. After all, the Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez deals really set the tone for clubs trying to acquire pitching help. But both are starting pitchers and Bailey is a closer who will work in roughly one third of the innings compared to the aforementioned. Still, Billy Beane didn’t appear willing to let Bailey go without getting a haul of young, talented prospects in return. Which begs the question, did the Red Sox steal Andrew Bailey from the Oakland A’s?
When all the details finally emerged on the deal, a total of five players were swapped included three players leaving the Boston organization. Josh Reddick was the centerpiece in the deal for Oakland and he’ll be joined by first base prospect Miles Head and pitching prospect Raul Alcantara. If you are asking yourself who the other two prospects that were included in the deal are, you’re not alone. Ben Cherington didn’t exactly strip his list of core prospects, in fact he didn’t even have to touch them.
Miles Head was a 26th round draft pick in 2009. The now 20-year old has yet to reach double-A ball despite putting up reasonable numbers at the A-ball level. His line of .274/.351/.446 line in 861 plate appearances is decent but the question remains as to when this kid will be ready to start the progression line.
Alcantara, 19, looks promising as a pitcher, but again, he doesn’t have a lot of experience above the rookie ball level. In 125.2 innings Alcantara has a 2.272 ERA, a 1.027 WHIP to go with a strikeout ratio of 6.0/9 and a walk ratio of 1.4/9.
As mentioned, it was Josh Reddick that was key to this deal, not so much Head or Alcantara. Both of the prospects are a few years away before they’ll be close to being ready. With the good dump of prospects that Beane received from Washington, they can take their time with Head and Alcantara.
But Reddick will be ready for the A’s next season. After claiming the right-field starting job from J.D. Drew last season thanks to another one of Drew’s injuries, Reddick matured in front of our very eyes. His walk-off hit against the Yankees last season was one of a few highlights he provided at the plate and he even flashed the leather in the outfield a time or two, proving he belonged at the major league level.
He’s only 24 and with the A’s losing all three of their 2011 outfielders this off season, it’s safe to say that Reddick will get his share of playing time in the outfield.
Last season Reddick hit a pretty good .280 in 278 plate appearances. He had an OBP of .327, a SLG of .457 and an OPS of .784. He hit 7 home runs and added 28 RBI, while appearing in 128 games during his first full season with the Red Sox. He started off like he was shot out of a cannon, carrying a batting average well above the .300 mark for a couple of months. He was getting some early consideration as a potential candidate for AL rookie of the year.
But as team’s pitchers got more looks at him as the year went on, they began to figure him out a little bit, forcing him to swing at pitches outside the strike zone. He quite often looked vulnerable at the plate in August that saw him just .208 and an OBP of only .265. Reddick would rebound a little in September, hitting .271, but still only managed a .306 OBP with only 1 homer and 2 RBI. There were countless times he would come to the plate in key situations and couldn’t manage a hit. I’m not saying it was his fault the Red Sox missed the postseason by one game, I’m just saying he had opportunities,and plenty of them to turn a few ballgames around and couldn’t capitalize.
With Ryan Kalish expected to fully recover from surgery that forced him to miss almost all of last season, Reddick suddenly became expendable. And why not trade him when he has some stock value. You can’t argue that the Red Sox will miss Reddick’s production, because between Kalish, Darnell McDonald and newly acquired Ryan Sweeney, the trio is more than capable of making it up.
Sweeney replaces the left-handed bat of Reddick so the Red Sox are no further ahead in reducing the number of lefties in their batting lineup. At 26 years of age, Sweeney gives Bobby Valentine some options in right field, providing the Red Sox don’t go and add another option via Cody Ross.
Through six seasons in the majors, four as full time duty, Sweeney has a career line of .283, .342, .378, .720. He’s averaged around 40 RBI over the last four seasons despite not hitting for power as evidenced by his career home run total of just 14.
Where Sweeney really excels is on the defensive side. He has a career fielding percentage of .996 while making only 8 errors. His career UZR is 9.2 providing proof that he’s an above average fielder. Again, another nice defensive option for Bobby V in the late innings of tight ball games.
But the real prize as we all know is Andrew Bailey. For weeks we’ve anticipated Bailey to be dealt and despite Christmas coming and going with no closer under the Red Sox tree, it’s better late than never.
He’s only 27-years old, will cost around $3.5 million next season and is under the team’s control through the 2014. He’s a two-time all-star and was the 2009 AL rookie of the year. Someone slap me and call me Susan, this keeps getting better. Bailey is from New Jersey and has said he would love the chance to play for the Boston Red Sox. This is a perfect marriage is it not?
He’s been closing for three seasons, all with Oakland. Over those three seasons he’s saved 26, 25 and 24 games while only blowing a total of 9 games. Keep in mind Jonathan Papelbon blew 8 games in the 2010 season alone. Last year saw Bailey’s ERA explode a little from the previous two years. It went from an average below 2.00 to 3.24. His innings were down as well thanks to a forearm strain early in the year. His career WHIP is 0.954 and his strikeout ratio per 9 innings is 9.0. His walk ratio per 9 innings is 2.6 and last season he had a 37.1% ground ball rate. Throw in the fact that Bailey has said this is the first off season in the past several years that he’s been 100% healthy provides a comforting feeling, knowing he’ll show up to camp in February ready to rock.
So after dissecting the deal a little further, here is the summary. The Red Sox give up three players all under the age of 24. Only Reddick will be in the A’s lineup in the foreseeable future. The Red Sox acquired an extra option for right field in Sweeney who could replace part of Reddick’s production and if Andrew Bailey can do what he’s done in Oakland and carry that over to Boston then you’ve just witnessed a complete robbery.
Well done Ben Cherington, well done. You made a big move and didn’t give up a whole lot to make it happen. Maybe Theo taught you well after all and this whole patience thing while waiting for the market to come to you? Well, this deal proves it wasn’t such a bad philosophy. Just don’t get used to doing that, you’ve caused a great deal of stress on an entire Nation.