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December 29, 2011

Transaction Analysis

Bailing Out of Oakland

by R.J. Anderson and Kevin Goldstein

IN THIS ISSUE

American League

BOSTON RED SOX
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Acquired RHP Andrew Bailey and OF-L Ryan Sweeney from the Athletics for OF-L Josh Reddick, 3B-R Miles Head, and RHP Raul Alcantara. [12/28]

Sorry, Mark Melancon, but Ben Cherington just ruined your best pick-up line.

After spending four years at Wagner College (in New York), including one rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Bailey entered the Athletics’ organization as a sixth-round pick in 2006. He shot through the system, reaching the majors in just his third full season and becoming the team’s closer shortly thereafter. He finished the 2009 season by winning the Rookie of the Year award after tossing more than 80 innings with a 1.84 earned run average.

Bailey’s body has betrayed him in the two seasons since. An intercostal strain and right elbow surgery (to remove loose bodies) took him out of action in 2010, and a forearm strain sidelined him for two months in 2011. When available to pitch, Bailey still did his thing—to the tune of a 2.28 earned run average and a 3.32 strikeout-to-walk ratio—but threw just 90 2/3 innings combined after a workhorse-like debut.

The rare Athletics pitcher with a better earned run average on the road than at home, Bailey’s component measures suggest he did pitch better within Oakland’s cavernous park. In about nine more innings at home, Bailey fanned nearly 40 more batters, walked 11 fewer, and gave up three fewer home runs than he did on the road. Given the sample sizes involved, there is no reason to believe Bailey is more likely to resemble one half more than the other, although a move to Fenway Park figures to hurt his surface-level statistics.

Even after becoming arbitration-eligible this offseason, Bailey stands to earn paychecks well below the market value for proven closers. That and the allure of having two more cost-controlled seasons offsets some of the injury risk. Should Bailey stay healthy, he and Melancon could give Boston a nice one-two punch at reduced rates—perhaps giving the team financial flexibility to upgrade elsewhere, or at the very least, the ability to move Daniel Bard to the rotation.

Sweeney is the auxiliary piece in the trade, but one who could start for the Red Sox in right field. He lacks the power commonly associated with a corner position and should never see a left-handed pitcher in a non-blowout situation, but his glove is a plus and he provides some offensive value against righties. If Boston chooses instead to acquire an everyday right fielder, there are worse fourth outfielders than Sweeney floating around. 

Trading for Bailey and Sweeney makes sense given Boston’s win-now mindset and roster holes. Neither is the most glamorous solution at his position, but one can appreciate Cherington’s cost-conscious approach.—R.J. Anderson

OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Acquired OF-L Josh Reddick, 3B-R Miles Head, and RHP Raul Alcantara from the Red Sox for RHP Andrew Bailey and OF-L Ryan Sweeney. [12/28]

Reddick is not what Hollywood would call a Billy Beane acquisition. An aggressive approach has left him with walks in fewer than six percent of his 400-plus major-league plate appearances, and he offered at nearly half of the pitches thrown his way last season. Reddick does boast power potential, but that means he takes his fair share of swings and misses, too. On defense, he profiles as above-average, with a 70-grade arm giving baserunners second thoughts about taking the extra base on balls to right.

Reddick is unlikely to ascend beyond second-division status, although he should find himself in the A’s Opening Day outfield, perhaps alongside two other outfielders acquired via trade in Collin Cowgill and Michael Taylor. Given the A’s position on the win curve, they could certainly do worse, and Reddick’s inability to break into the Red Sox’ lineup should not be held against him. As one scout recently told Kevin Goldstein about Reddick (and Ryan Kalish), "They're both good enough to play every day in the big leagues… just not for the Red Sox."
R.J. Anderson

The A's got a young, everyday right fielder for Bailey, but Alcantara and Head are both very real prospects.

While Alcantara comes with the risks that apply to any 19 year-old who spent to majority of 2011 in the Gulf Coast League, he's an impressive arm with considerable polish for his age. At 6-foot-3 and a skinny 180 pounds, he has projection and already throws in the low-90s, touches 95, and displays highly advanced control, walking just six in 48 GCL innings while limiting the league to a .147 batting average. He'll flash a plus curveball which should become more consistent with experience, and he has some feel for a changeup. His 2012 full-season debut will give us a much better feel for just how good he is, but the upside is considerable.

Miles Head gets widely varying reviews from scouts. He was great in the first half at Low-A but struggled in the second half following a promotion to the Carolina League. That said, age is certainly on his side, as he doesn't turn 21 until this coming May. He combines bat speed with excellent hands and a good contact rate for a player with plus power, but there are questions about his profile, as he's short, squat and right-handed—a combination that has produced few impact first basemen in the big leagues. He could put up some big numbers in the California League next year, but Double-A will be the true test for him.—Kevin Goldstein

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here
Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

20 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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etothepiiplus43

I feel like I must have been overvaluing Bailey mentally. Seems like quite a low return although, I realize that someone does have to start in the outfield next March.

Dec 28, 2011 16:04 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

Just my take, but I think it was an awful deal for Oakland. Beane got beat again.

Dec 28, 2011 19:25 PM
rating: 1
 
mrdannyg

They received an every-day RF and two real prospects for a relief pitcher with an injury history. Seems like a pretty solid trade for Mr Beane.

Reddick provided more WARP in half a season last year than Bailey has provided in the past 2 combined. Getting two prospects with Reddick was icing on the cake.

Don't overvalue RPs (not named Mariano!)

Dec 29, 2011 06:49 AM
rating: 10
 
mikebuetow

You're comparing apples and oranges. Reddick also posted more WARP last year than Mariano Rivera, your gold standard for RP. In fact, his WARP was the same as Jon Lester's.

I like the trade for both teams.

Dec 29, 2011 12:59 PM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess

I would counter that its VERY debatable that Josh Reddick is an everyday outfielder. I'd say he's a fourth.

Dec 29, 2011 15:41 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

The politically correct term is "second division starter"

Dec 29, 2011 15:47 PM
rating: 6
 
amazin_mess

My bad.

Dec 30, 2011 07:43 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

As one scout recently told Kevin Goldstein about Reddick (and Ryan Kalish), "They're both good enough to play every day in the big leagues… just not for the Red Sox."—Fly on the Wall

Dec 28, 2011 16:05 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I still like Reddick as a solid every day outfielder. I think it's a good trade for Oakland and a nice return for a closer with injury risks.

Dec 28, 2011 20:41 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

I just found it funny that Anderson was reporting what the scout said to you instead of the scout's quote showing up in your section.

Dec 29, 2011 07:39 AM
rating: 0
 
Ogremace

not a bad trade for the sox, as Bailey is almost sure to help them out in the pen, which was noticeably short, and it's in no way guaranteed that either prospect will return more than Bailey will, but still, it seems backwards.

The sox need starters, and maybe Oakland can't help with that, and they also don't have the stacked farm system they often have in the past. So to trade two good prospects and get back only injury-addled relief just doesn't seem right.

Dec 28, 2011 16:36 PM
rating: 0
 
FrankL

Given the extraordinary value ascribed to a player's remaining years under control, perhaps Beane has discovered the newest market inefficiency... the inability of some teams' medical staffs to assess accurately a player's medical records.

Otherwise, one would think that Josh (can't take a walk) Reddick, and two decent but very raw prospects, Miles (Bad Body, 1B/DH in the making) Head and Raul "TINSTAAPP" Alcantara ("polished" but with a 6.75 K/9 in the 2011 GCL - warning, small sample!) would be an insufficient haul given the prices of this year's closers. Even if those prices have been inflated by a few bad deals, e.g., Papelbon's with Phi.

Dec 28, 2011 19:18 PM
rating: 2
 
johnchr

I'm reading talk about Reddick being the CF in Oakland.Is his defence good enough to justify such a move? If this scenario plays out, he'd look a lot more like a building block than a place holder, which is what he looks like in a corner spot.

Dec 28, 2011 21:08 PM
rating: 1
 
SGreenwell

I think he played a couple games in center for the Sox. He does have a really good arm, but he's more of an OK runner than a speed guy, so I think his range would be lacking in center. Maybe league average out there, which would help his bat play, but not a plus defender like he would be in right.

Dec 28, 2011 23:03 PM
rating: 0
 
escapingNihilism

Beane is just loading up on the prayer of a San Jose migration later in the decade. by that time Bailey would be either a free agent or way to expensive for the A's to want. so he'll pile up the longshots and hope to strike gold. now that all the secrets are out they cannot compete in Oakland.

Dec 29, 2011 09:49 AM
rating: 0
 
escapingNihilism

*too

Dec 29, 2011 09:50 AM
rating: 0
 
APer930

"Major League" just became a real-life story. Needing to move the team? need losses to do it? Trade away every valuable player for prospects so we'll stink until we move? I'm suprised Charlie Sheen wasn't a PTBNL.

Dec 29, 2011 11:10 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

The Pirates used that philosophy, except they got it wrong since they had already moved...

Dec 29, 2011 12:48 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

The Sweeney-Reddick portion of the trade is comparable in value, except for their service time. Sweeney has been up for almost four full seasons. Reddick has been up for parts of three seasons adding up to about 1 full season. Their defense is close. What Reddick has over Sweeney in power is more than made up for in on base average. The advantage of Reddick is that he is two years younger and therefor has a greater chance of improving. So, this trade is that cash savings and slightly greater potential along with all that those two prospects bring the Athletics for Bailey. It is a calculated gamble on the health of the veterans involved and the fate of those two prospects that is appropriate for both teams.

Dec 29, 2011 12:12 PM
rating: 0
 
silviomossa

I think it was good for both teams. Some A's fans are down after the bigger hauls of late, but Bailey didn't have nearly as much value. I've also liked Reddick for awhile and think he'll have value in RF for years to come. Hopefully one of the prospects will develop, but this is more of a position-for-position trade, unlike the other prospect hauls of late, and can't be compared to them easily.

Dec 29, 2011 15:53 PM
rating: 1
 
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