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With the recent addition of Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox bullpen manager John Farrell has an important decision to make, who closes the game when the team needs a quick 3 or 4 outs. Last year time was split between Alfredo Aceves and Andrew Bailey who was injured for the majority of the season. Bailey was acquired by the Sox in the 2012 offseason from the Oakland Athletics where he has appeared in 42 games and had 24 saves. During his first season in Boston, Bailey appeared 19 times, had 6 saves and 2 blown saves. His ERA was an extremely high 7.04, outrageous for a closer.

Hanrahan was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in late December in part of a 4 player trade. He was selected to the All Star Game in both 2011 and 2012 by the National League's coaching staff. In 2012 he appeared in 63 games and pitched 59.2 innings. He converted 36 saves while only blowing 4. His ERA was a low 2.72 which has the potential to lower even more while pitching in Fenway. One of the stats that I look at most while comparing players is their WAR or wins above replacement. Out of the 3 pitchers that are now on the Red Sox roster that closed games last year Hanrahan has the highest WAR at 1.2. Aceves and Bailey have WAR's of -1.1 and -0.6. When looking at this it shows that Hanrahan would contribute to less losses for the Sox then either of the other closers on staff.

Once we pick a closer the next question is what should the manager and gm do with the other two pitchers? One could certainly become a set up man, the perfect 7th or 8th inning guy to get the ball into the closers hand but while looking at both Aceves and Bailey, going on the fact that Hanrahan is indeed our closer next year, I feel these players are not suited for the role of set up man. Instead I feel that Daniel Bard would fit better in this role, he has stepped into the role of set up man in the past and has found more success then he has when attempting to be the closer in seasons past. He has also attempted to be a starting pitcher but that turned out to be a complete failure, resulting in Bard being send down to Pawtucket to regain his form. This leaves the possibility of a trade involving Aceves and Bailey, something that I am not opposed to the idea of. Farrell has a lot of work to do with this team, the duel for the closing spot will be fierce at spring training, but in the end I think Hanrahan will be the Opening Day closer for the Red Sox, but only time will tell.

Ryan MacLeod 1/15/2013 02:21:00 PM Edit
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