Every morning, well most mornings and sometimes in the afternoon, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Red Sox do not necessarily need to obtain a closer via trade or free agency. Replacing Jonathan Papelbon could be as easy as giving the job to Daniel Bard.
But the wide selection of closers available gives general manager Ben Cherington an opportunity to be creative. Picking one up would allow Bard to be tried as a starter or remain in his role as a versatile set-up man.
Free agents Francisco Cordero, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, and Francisco Rodriguez remain on the market. With only a limited number of teams - the Reds and perhaps one or two others - seeking a closer, the Red Sox could get an experienced closer at a bargain later this month.
“We’ve certainly made progress as far as understanding more what it’s going to take to acquire pitching of all sorts of flavors,’’ Cherington said yesterday. “We felt like that’s what this was really going to be about for us. It would be more information gathered than execution most likely, these days in Dallas.’’
The trade market could prove a better route. The Red Sox are engaged in discussions with Oakland regarding closer Andrew Bailey. The righthander is coming off the worst season of his career (3.24 ERA, 1.10 WHIP), but is only 27 and is healthy after starting last season on the disabled list.
Well before I can even berate this list, it's been reported that K-Rod is accepting salary arbitration from the Brewers and set up for John Axford. Apparently closing isn't high on the list for K-Rod anymore.
With that out of the way, let's see what's left to pick from. Cordero had a quality year: 37 saves, 2.45 ERA. Hitters only managed to hit .198 against him last year. But the 36 year old wasn't able to dominate like he used to as he had a career low in strikeouts per 9 innings (5.4). His stats scream out CONTRACT YEAR but for a one year stop gap... he could be the guy.
Lidge was relegated to setting up Madson after a shoulder injury landed him on the DL. He only pitched 19 2/3 innings but he didn't meltdown like he did in 2009. It's probably the best for him to re-sign with Philly and set up Papelbon then try and close, especially in Boston. As for Madson, he did really well replacing Lidge (32 saves out of 34 opportunities) but at 32, is he really worth the 4 year deal that Scott Boras is looking for him? Hell no.
That leaves us with Oakland's Andrew Bailey who is 27 and has potential to be a really good closer. As Peter Abraham said above, he's had his worst year but he had a 3.24 ERA & a WHIP of 1.104. This would mean that a deal would have to be centered around Josh Reddick, which sucks because it would be great to see him play a full year in right field, but Bailey would be worth it. If the Sox can pull off this trade without giving up Reddick or future third basemen Will Middlebrooks, then Cherington suddenly looks like a genius.
Of course, if he had showed any interest in the best closer in the market, Jonathan Papelbon, the Sox wouldn't be in this position.
Rest of the Links: Globe:Ortiz accepts arbitration|Team in need of toughness|Many options for Red Sox when it comes to a closer|Herald:Valentine stokes Yankees-Red Sox rivalry fire|Ortiz chooses to accept arbitration|Red Sox play waiting game|CSNNE:Converting Bard to starter will be no easy task|Addressing the OF not a priority| Ortiz takes Sox up on arbitration offer|WEEI:The waiting game|Madson in musical chairs game|