Who's going to lead the BoSox in saves?
Bailey's value won't curdle
The Red Sox received Joel Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates this winter and then named him their closer. The 31-year-old followed up a breakthrough 2011 (1.83 ERA, 40 saves) by posting a 2.72 ERA and saving 36 contests. That settles that.
Of course, if it were that easy, then why ask the question, right? The ghost of control problems past visited Hanrahan prior to the break (4.76 BB/9). Apparently the spirit spooked the right-hander, perhaps reminding him of some past misdeed, because in the second half, he issued even more walks (6.31 per nine, to be precise). The ground-ball rate of 50 percent-plus from 2011? It's off to a good start on its way to anomalous. In the NL Central, and at spacious PNC Park, he could get away with a hefty dose of fly balls a little more frequently than he probably will for Boston.
Has Hanrahan made amends with the immaterial world? Rotisserie players will find out soon enough. Waiting to pick up the pieces is fellow right-hander Andrew Bailey, last year's closer who spent nary a day on the job because he needed thumb surgery in spring training and missed three-quarters of the season. What else is new? At least this wasn't an elbow problem. The skills should still be intact. Because of his 2013 title and poor health record, Bailey shouldn't cost much in AL-only leagues and 15-team mixed formats. Obviously, he should be of interest because of the foreseeable possibility of Hanrahan's struggles.
Bailey, 29 in May, is a potential bargaining chip for the Red Sox, too. As a result, there's a chance that Koji Uehara's name appears at the top of Boston's saves leaderboard when all is said and done. And, naturally, this being the Red Sox and all, don't rule out a scenario in which Hanrahan is a bust, Bailey is on the disabled list and Uehara is either also injured or stuck in a setup role.
In that case, Farrell would almost certainly visit the idea of placing an old pupil of his in the role this hurler once seemed destined to assume. (Please - please - forget Alfredo Aceves.) Righty Daniel Bard is a full-time reliever again, and Farrell has already given glowing grades to the 27-year-old's simplified, retrofit mechanics. This is AL-only reserve material that could really pay off.
A player the organization acquired in the offseason performs miserably and, eventually, demonstrates that he's not fit to keep his job? A couple of skilled players who are underappreciated but integral to the team's success end up unavailable for one reason or another? A player the club recycled but whom most fans and roto owners have already written off, only to emerge as the hero (relatively speaking)? This is Boston. Sounds about right.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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