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In the offseason the Red Sox made the move to acquire a closer in an effort to fill the hole left when Jonathan Papelbon took his talents to Philadelphia. In the quest to fill that hole, the Red Sox traded young outfielder Josh Reddick, and minor league players Raul Alcantara and Miles Head to the Athletics. In exchange the Red Sox received the A’s closer Andrew Bailey as well as A’s outfielder Ryan Sweeney. As we approach the halfway mark in the season, now is as good a time as any to analyze this trade and see if it was really worth it in the end.
It is no secret that Josh Reddick has put forth some stellar numbers, primarily as the number three hitter in the A’s lineup. While his batting average and runs batted in don’t jump out at the casual fan, .258 and 41 respectively, it’s his home run total that has a lot of people in awe. So far this season Reddick has 19 home runs, one of which he hit against the Red Sox on Monday night. To put that in perspective, there is only one member of the Red Sox team with more home runs than Reddick, and that player happens to be David Ortiz.
The main piece of the trade the Red Sox received, Andrew Bailey, has yet to pitch a regular season game with the Sox due to a thumb injury that required surgery before the season started. Bailey is slated to come back before the season ends, but after missing more than half a season, what Andrew Bailey will the Red Sox see?
Ryan Sweeney has also missed time this season, managing to land on the disabled list on two separate occasions. Sweeney has played in 52 games and is hitting .292 with no homeruns and only 13 RBI’s.
It’s also worth mentioning the Red Sox outfield has been a revolving door of players this season as injuries have plagued the team all season long. Jacoby Ellsbury went down early in the season and still has yet to return. Carl Crawford, who struggled mightily in his first season in the Sox uniform, has yet to play a game this season as he has battled a wrist injury.
It’s no doubt the Red Sox would have enjoyed the stability of having Reddick play everyday in their outfield, and they certainly would have loved the offensive boost he could have provided. However, at the time of the trade no one could have accurately predicted this outcome. While Reddick put up solid numbers with the Red Sox last season, (seven homeruns, .280 average, 28 RBI’s, 18 doubles, and three triples) there was a fear that he wouldn’t have the consistency the Red Sox hoped for. Reddick tended to be a first-pitch swinger, and still has that tendency out in Oakland, which leads to high strikeout totals. He struck out 50 times last season with the Red Sox, and so far this season has struck out 77 times with the A’s.
Reddick is a very reliable young player, but I don’t think he would have fit as well in Boston this year, as he has in Oakland. Oakland gave him the chance to consistently bat third, which is something the Red Sox could not offer. That consistency can be attributed, some, to his success. For the Sox, he was batting all through the order, and mostly between the 6-8 positions. While it has been great watching Reddick find his power stroke and come into his own, I can’t picture him having that same success in Boston. This trade benefits Reddick more than anyone else.
While Ryan Sweeney was part of the trade, he was more of a throw-in and an attempt to have a left-handed bat to compliment Cody Ross. The main piece of this trade was Andrew Bailey. The Sox saw an opportunity to obtain a young closer, who isn’t all too expensive, and have the chance to have a sure thing in the late innings for years to come. This plan can still come to fruition even though Bailey has missed the entire 2012 season so far.
Due to the Bailey injury, Alfredo Aceves has stepped in to fill the void. While he has found some success with 19 saves, he also has four blown saves and has a 4.32 earned run average. Aceves has been a decent substitute, but he has been far from great.
Aceves has mentioned to manager Bobby Valentine that he would like to pitch more, which is hard to satisfy when you are the team’s closer. That is why having Andrew Bailey back and in the role as closer would be the best case scenario for this team. When Aceves is pitching every day, or the majority of days, that is when he is at his best. He loves to be on the mound throwing. Having him out of the closer role and into a middle relief/set-up role would give the Sox added depth, as well as relieve some pressure off Bailey once he returns. For those who think Bailey won’t be able to handle the job in Boston, he has a career line of 2.07 ERA, 75 saves, 174 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 0.95 all in three years in the big leagues.
While it is easy to say this trade was a bust because of the season Reddick is having, and because Bailey has yet to pitch, I believe it is far too early to rule this trade as a bad move. Bailey will be a key part of the Red Sox bullpen for years to come, and there is no rush to get him back on the team. Let the injury heal correctly and use him when he is ready.
It’s great to see Reddick have success and we are all happy for him here in Boston, but the real key will be if he can maintain that success for years to come. After all is said and done, I believe people will be more than happy with Andrew Bailey in a Red Sox uniform.