The U.S.S. Andrew Bailey Has Run Aground

As it turns out, Josh Beckett is not the only Red Sox pitcher to come down with an injury in the final days of spring training. In fact, Beckett isn’t even the only Red Sox pitcher to come down with a THUMB injury in the final days of spring training. And while Beckett may still end up making his scheduled start in the second game of the season, Andrew Bailey, the man who was supposed to serve as the 2012 Red Sox closer, may miss the entire first half of the year.

Bailey has missed much of spring training with this injury, but only today was it revealed that he will likely need surgery. Assuming Bailey has thumb surgery, the Sox will be scrambling to designate a new closer before the season starts on Thursday. Options are limited, but let’s take a look at some of the possibilities.

Daniel Bard. (Career Closing Statistics: 5 saves, 20 save opportunities) Bard was, at one time, presumed to be the Red Sox closer in waiting. It was largely expected that he would take over the role once Jonathan Papelbon left in free agency.  Unfortunately, Bard never developed into the dominant 9th inning force that many hoped he would be.  While he excelled as a setup man, his performance in save situations left much to be desired. Also, Bard’s desire to be a starter led to his insertion into the rotation this year. While Bard definitely has the repertoire to be an effective closer, his less than stellar track record coupled with the strain of throwing him back into the bullpen at the last minute make him a less than attractive choice.

Odds of being named closer: 3:1

Mark Melancon. (Career Closing Statistics: 20 saves, 27 save opportunities) When the Sox sent Jed Lowrie to Houston, Melancon was the piece that came back. He served as Houston’s closer in 2011, finishing the year with 20 saves. He performed well, demonstrating why the Yankees were reluctant to part with him in 2010. While Melancon has experience in the closer role, closing in Houston is far different from closing in Boston. On the other hand, Melancon was already attempting to compete for the closing role and was likely going to serve as Bailey’s setup man anyway. He seems to be the least disruptive choice, though his ceiling is probably lower than Bard’s.

Odds of being named closer: EVEN

Franklin Morales. (Career Closing Statistics: 10 saves, 14 save opportunities) Morales probably isn’t a serious contender for the role, but the fact that he has had a few opportunities to make saves (and largely made the most of them) means that he will likely be thrown into the mix here and there. It will be interesting to see what Morales’ role in the bullpen will be this year–if Melancon is shifted to closer, Morales could become more valuable as a setup man.

Odds of being named closer: 50:1

Bobby Valentine. (Career Closing Statistics: crazy, just crazy) If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Don’t tell Bobby Valentine what he can’t do. Bobby V ain’t care.

Odds of being named closer: Better than Franklin Morales

Bobby V: Troll Genius.

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