What Does Andrew Bailey’s Injury Mean For the Red Sox?


He was supposed to make fans forget about Jonathan Papelbon, that and to save out ball games for the Red Sox.  Ok, so the organization probably didn’t have the first point on their agenda when they acquired Andrew Bailey from Oakland during the off season, but he was brought in to replace number 58 and become the ninth inning specialist.

Now Andrew Bailey may be in jeopardy of missing his first Opening Day with the Red Sox, thanks to a thumb injury that was finally confirmed on Sunday.  Speculation began to grow rampant that something was wrong with the 27-year old when he didn’t see an inning of work in a major league game since March 25 and wasn’t scheduled to throw in the next two games.  His availability or timetable is still unknown but sources say that April 5th could be a stretch to see the new closer sitting in the bullpen.

So what does this mean for the Red Sox?  Many feel that Mark Melancon, who was also acquired via trade this winter, was set to replace Bailey as the long-term closer anyway and this scenario will only speed up the process.  Perhaps it will but keep in mind that Alfredo Aceves was told he will be returning to the bullpen after failing to make the rotation.  Is this tied to Bailey’s injury?  Maybe, but maybe  not.

Manager Bobby Valentine has said all spring that he is overly impressed with the multi-tool talent that Aceves brings.  Whether it’s a spot start, long and middle relief, or the idea of becoming a closer, Aceves appears poised to succeed at any role.  Being a starter should also be on the list but when a team so desperately needs him in the pen, it’s hard to ignore the truth.

Melancon does have an edge on Aceves in terms of closing out ball games, having done so in Houston last season.  A 3-year veteran, Melancon was once a member of the New York Yankees and he already feels comfortable competing in the AL East.  But remember Aceves was also a Yankee and it is only because the released him that the Red Sox were able to scoop him up and transform him into a powerhouse reliever.

Last year with the Astros, Melancon saved 20 of 25 saves while sporting a 2.78 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP an average of 2.34 and a SO/9 ratio of 8.0.

We all know Aceves did with the Red Sox in 2011; pitched in 114.0 innings, started four games, produced an ERA of 2.61, a WHIP of 1.25, an average of 2.40 and a SO/9 ratio of 6.3.

Just when Bobby V has one dilemma squared away in the rotation, he is presented with another one; who should be the closer?  Taking Bailey out of the equation for the time being, I have to say Melancon.  After all, wasn’t he brought in as insurance should the oft-injured Bailey go down again?  And with Aceves shooting for a spot in the rotation, Melancon knows his role and does it quite well.

It’s also been made public that Aceves was not happy about the decision to put him back in the bullpen.  Attitude dictates performance and let’s all hope that Alfredo deals with this like a professional and doesn’t let the disappointing turn of events affect his ability to be rock solid in the late innings.

For now, Mark should be the new Andrew who was supposed to be the new Jonathan and Alfredo should be the new Daniel in the setup role.  Confused?  Just wait until Bailey comes back and this web of relievers will continue to spin.

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