The Red Sox needed a closer. Even after acquiring the talented Mark Melancon from the Houston Astros just two weeks ago, the unanimous consensus was that they still needed help in the relief department, especially the back end of the ‘pen. General Manager Ben Cherington had a few options. After passing on high-priced free agent closers like Jonathan Papelbon, Heath Bell, and Francisco Rodriguez, there were rumors that the Sox were looking at Ryan Madson and Francisco Cordero. The fact that Scott Boras represents Madson and the fact that Cordero is simply overrated (at least in this writer’s opinion) kept Cherington away. So apart from moving Daniel Bard back to the bullpen, or officially naming Melancon the closer, this left the front office with one choice: a trade.
And that’s just what they did, acquiring right-hander Andrew Bailey (along with outfielder Ryan Sweeney) from the Oakland A’s for outfielder Josh Reddick, twenty-year old Miles Head, and nineteen year old pitcher Raul Alcantara. Bailey was the American League rookie of the year back in 2009, and has been an elite closer for Oakland for the past three years (when he’s healthy that is, he’s had nagging elbow injuries the last two years). He’s never finished a year with a FIP over 2.96, and has a career K/9 of exactly 9.00. So by all means this seems to be a great acquisition for Boston. A fourth outfielder and two kids for an elite closer? Easy money. Well, not so fast. It’s easy to write Head and Alcantara off because of their age, but they certainly deserve a second look before forgetting about them in the hype around Bailey.
Miles Head plays the corner infield postions, but could also pan out as a designated hitter. His numbers over the past years certainly should raise some eyebrows: .299/.372/.515 with 22 home runs between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem. This combined stat line is a bit deceiving though as he performed much better at Low-A, batting .338 compared to .254 in Salem, and OPSing 1.022 compared to a .733 mark in Salem. Head is hefty guy, and many scouts worry that he will fill out too much. He possesses the type of body that needs careful conditioning, as allowing his weigh to spiral out of control could effect him defensively, especially if he plans to play third. Soxprospects.com compares him to a pre-2011 Adam Dunn. Essentially, he is a boom-or-bust player. He possesses solid power, but most of it comes from hitting fastballs or mistake pitches, he does not have a great eye at the plate. That being said, he is only twenty years old, and still has plenty of time to develop a better eye. With the amount of raw power he possesses, a more acute eye at the plate could make him a dangerous middle of the order bat. Of course, with the body he has, in three years he could find himself overweight and unable to take a walk: a deadly combination in itself.
Even younger than Head is nineteen year old Raul Alcantara, who could very well end up being the player whose development will make or break this deal a few years from now. Alcantara pitched 48 innings in the Gulf Coast League and 17 1/3 innings in short season Lowell last year. Combined, he posted a 2.20 ERA and 0.92 WHIP while striking out 50 and only walking 12. He throws a low 90’s fastball that tops off around 95. He also throws a slider and changeup, but has struggled controlling those pitches so far. He has a lean build now, but should be able to build muscle as the years progress, adding speed to his pitches. The most encouraging thing about Alcantara is the foundation he has at such a young age. If he can continue to build on the skills he already has, by the time he is ready for the majors, he should be able to crack the starting rotation of whatever team he is on. This comes with the assumption that he will continue to learn and grow. If he stays the lean pitcher he already is, then there is not much else he can do. To truly become a dominant pitcher, he needs to add more weight and muscle to his frame, increasing his velocity and control. If he can do that, then this is a very promising young man.
Some fans judge trades based on what team received the best player. If that’s the case, then Boston clearly won this trade. Don’t take Billy Beane for a fool though, he knew exactly what he was giving up. The A’s seem to be building towards their eventual move to San Jose a few years down the line. For a player in Bailey, one that would be gone by the time that move was made, they acquired the player they hope is in their outfield for a few years to come (Reddick), and two prospects who have the chance to be elite players by the time the gates open to the A’s park in San Jose. AnDrew Bailey is going to be a very good player for Boston (and don’t sleep on Ryan Sweeney), make no mistake. But this trade was certainly not as one-sided as many have made it out to be. Just remember the names Miles Head and Raul Alcantara, there’s a strong possibility that in three years time they’ll be making headlines with the San Jose A’s.
Categories: Boston Red Sox