The Red Sox don't need $75 books about their ballpark, "Christmas at Fenway" or celebrity managers to engage their fanbase - just keep making deals like this Andrew Bailey trade and the Nation might have some hope for 2012.
Check out this video of then Rookie of the Year and now Red Sox closer Bailey going up against Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers in an ad for MLB 2K10:
Although Bailey never won the AL West or an AL pennant with the A's - like Cruz did with the Rangers - he might have gotten a feeling of Schadenfreude following's Cruz's epic defensive fail in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.
Then there was @AndrewBailey40's welcome to Boston Tweet Wednesday: "It's Official! I want to say Thank You to the A's and their fans for everything over the last 6 yrs. I'm looking forward to being a Red Sox."
Bailey's attitude in the above video - and on the mound - reminds viewers of a certain Riverdancing closer who set up shop in Philadelphia last month. This deal - which also brought RF Ryan Sweeney to Boston and sent Josh Reddick (along with Class A first baseman Miles Head and Class A RHP Raul Alcantara) - is the single best moment of Red Soxdom since Dustin Pedroia's home run that put the Sox up 3-2 in the fifth inning before the rain of Sept. 28 and word that John Lackey will miss all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery. Speaking of which, Bailey underwent the same procedure in 2005 and opened 2011 on the DL with a forearm strain after having an elbow procedure the year earlier. So that's a potential downside.
It's hard to imagine the Red Sox losing anything numerically with the presence of Bailey as a closer over Papelbon. Bailey, pitching for a team that's averaged only 77 wins, has a 1.47 earned run average, an 0.95 WHIP and 75 saves over three seasons. Papelbon has 106 saves over the same span, but his ERA is 2.98 and the Red Sox have won 44 more games Cinco Ocho's best attribute was his killer attitude and ability to handle Boston's pressure and expectations - at least until the last night of the season. Papelbon was on the mound when the Red Sox won the 2007 World Series, got their last playoff win in 2008 and when the Sox were eliminated in 2009 and 2011. He definitely knows Big Games.
Bailey hasn't been there yet but he has the makeup to at least get the Red Sox into the postseason. Just watching that MLB 2K10 ad shows that he's no Daniel Schiraldi Bard. As far as the pressure of closing in Beantown goes, Bailey is not short on confidence: "Iím going to welcome that with open arms. Itís not going to change the style I attack the hitters. Iím aggressive, like to right at these guys. As long as I stick to my guns and trust my stuff, Iíll be fine Iím sure," Bailey said Wednesday.
If Larry Lucchino indeed runs the Red Sox, he made his job a lot easier with this deal. Carmine, Ben and (for whatever role he may have played in this) Bobby V all deserve major props. The Red Sox filled their biggest need with the best player available at that position - plain and simple. I was never a major Ryan Madson fan and question any pitcher (especially a closer) making the leap from the National League. (C.C. Sabathia's brief fling in Milwaukee not withstanding.) That attitude is subject to change if the Red Sox manage to land starter Roy Oswalt, who pitches with as much grit for real as Josh Beckett (he from the NL's Marlins) has ever pretended to have.
"Andrewís a proven, top-quality closer in the American League. Heís done for three years and had a lot of success," Cherington said Wednesday. No reason to expect anything less in Boston.
Here's another Bailey video worth watching - this one he did for MLB.com in 2010 as part of its "Now You Know" series. Among other things, you'll learn his first car was a 1984 Jeep Cherokee "box model" with no floorboards (at the 53-second mark):
Maybe Scott Boras can work a two-for-one package deal for one-year at $10 million featuring Madson and Jason Varitek. Getting to see a Boras client have to eat about $35 million of contract value at the same time the Red Sox pick up a better player at the same position is pretty sweet. Did someone say "Schadenfreude?"
Sweeney is an added bonus to this deal, whether he platoons in right or is shipped off as part of a later deal. His defense is on par with that of J.D. Drew and he won't miss 47 games a year with a pulled hangnail. Dwight Evans would have given the Red Sox more production out of the right field position than they got last season with Drew and Reddick. The Sox still need an everyday right fielder, but at least they have a closer.
After months of fried chicken, beer and ballroom-dancing managers - the Red Sox got it right big-time on this one. Well done. Pitchers and catchers report in 52 days. In the words of Bart Scott: "Can't wait!"
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