Andrew Bailey’s arrival has started a positive domino effect on the rest of the pitching staff.
Newly acquired reliever Mark Melancon doesn’t have to deal with the pressure of closing in Boston and instead can become an eighth-inning arm.
In turn, Daniel Bard can more easily shift into the rotation rather than be held in reserve as a possible closer. And Alfredo Aceves can remain a swing man, slip into the rotation or maybe even assume a late-innings relief role.
Bailey makes those options much more palatable. But even with the back of the bullpen and the top of the rotation more clearly defined, the Red Sox still will be in the market for another starter this winter, particularly if they want to keep Aceves in the bullpen, where he was so valuable last season.
Herald - Deal puts staff ahead in count
Melancon + Bailey ≠ Bard + Papelbon
Let's get that out of the way now and temper our expectations. Bailey is a good, young closer, but he's not elite. He went from being dominant in 2009 and 2010 to being just plain good in 2011. In fact, he gave up 34 hits in 41 innings last year (34 in 49 the year prior, and 49 in 83 in '09), compared to 50 surrendered by Papelbon through 64 innings. Taking it a step further, Bailey's WHIP last season was 1.10 and Papelbon's was 0.93. So if you were one of those people that were ripping their hair out because Papelbon always seemed to have a runner or two on base, well, you may want to prepare yourself for more of the same.
But bringing in Bailey for what seems like a pretty low price is a monumental stepping stone for the pitching staff as a whole. Bard can now move to the rotation without having to worry about being plugged into the closer role. Melancon's role is now clearly defined. The last pieces are Aceves and the 5th spot in the rotation.
Aceves can prepare to start and Cherington can look for another starter or two. You know, that whole depth thing we keep hearing about. And if they do bring in another starter (or two), Aceves is going to be the long man in the bullpen anyway, so getting his arm strength up and preparing to go 5-6-7 innings is in everybody's best interest.
Roy Oswalt makes too much sense not to bring aboard. He's the Sox dream free agent: veteran with somethign to prove, willing to sign a one-year deal to prove it. I could be very happy with a rotation of Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, Oswalt and Bard.
Rest of the links:
Herald - Ryan Kalish suffers setback | Globe - Kalish won’t be ready to start | PawSox select new broadcaster | Valentine set to meet with more players | WEEI - Still the strength: Taking stock of Red Sox 2012 lineup | ESPN - Valentine: Melancon, Bailey fill a big void