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Bailey and Sweeney Sent to Boston

December 28, 2011



Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney will be shipping up to Boston as the Red Sox and Athletics made a much anticipated trade today in Boston’s quest to acquire a closer and Oakland’s latest rebuild move. The A’s in return acquire outfielder Josh Reddick, right-handed pitching prospect Raul Alcantara and first base prospect Miles Head. Reddick entered 2011 as Boston’s fourth ranked prospect by Baseball America and split his time between Pawtucket and Boston putting up a .280/.327/.457 line with the Red Sox to go along with 1.9 WAR aided by being a plus defender and baserunner. In his 278 at bats in the show he also managed seven home runs and he instantly slots into a starting outfield position with the A’s as his .335 wOBA and 105 wRC+ while not stellar are exemplary for the current outfield crew in Oakland.

Reddick has played near one season’s worth of baseball in Boston since he started travelling up and down I-95 for the Red Sox organization in 2009, and in 143 games has had 403 plate appearances posting 1.8 WAR, with an uninspiring .248/.290/.416 slash line and .304 wOBA with an 82 wRC+. In 2003 plate appearances of MiLB ball, Reddick has a .278/.332/.500 slash line with most of those numbers being boosted up at the lower levels. Ironically the complaints about Reddick in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook are similar to complaints many A’s fans have of Ryan Sweeney saying that,

“though he has good bat speed and repeatedly barrels balls, he too often gets himself out by putting pitches in play that he should let go by.”

Furthermore they note he has a stellar arm and call him an “assists machine” (something that one could easily label Sweeney as) while saying defensively he can man not only right but center field as well – no small feat at Fenway Park.

The other two prospects the A’s received are lesser sought after players. In ranking the Red Sox prospects ahead of the 2012 season, John Sickels of Minor League Ball puts Alcantara 23rd. He does say he has a high ceiling which is of course good for us A’s fans. The just recently turned 20-year-old split 2011 between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and Lowell Spinners where in a combined 13 starts he posted a 2.20 ERA with 6.9 K/9 to only 1.7 BB/9, not allowing a home run in 65 1/3 innings (in his 125 2/3 total MiLB innings he only has allowed a lone home run for a career 0.07 HR/9). He does not take up a 40-man roster spot for the A’s, which is perhaps part of his benefit at this point.

Head meanwhile, a first base prospect and 21st on Sickels’ list, was a 26th round pick out of the 2009 amateur draft and will be of legal drinking age in May. He split 2011 between the Greenville Drive and Salem Red Sox posting a combined .299/.372/.515 slash line with 22 home runs in 557 plate appearances with a 9.0 BB% and 19.6 K%. Sickels’ review of Head was mixed saying,

“Ineffective in the New York-Penn League in ’10, but something clicked last year, hit for power and average in Low-A. Power carried forward to High-A but he’s got contact issues to work out, and right-handed hitting first baseman have an uphill battle. Could rank much higher next year.”

What the A’s gave up for this package of course was their closer the past three seasons in Bailey. Bailey, the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year, pitched 174 innings for Oakland sporting a nifty 2.07 ERA despite a somewhat higher 2.74 FIP. Overall he was worth 4.4 WAR in his three seasons earning 75 saves, but by a measure I like more shutdowns, he had 69 with 18 meltdowns. During his time with the A’s he posted 9.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and just 0.6 HR/9 featuring a very low .237 BABIP, and impressive 81.7% strand rate. His xFIP at 3.40 was significantly higher given his very low 5.4% HR/FB. Only nine relievers (out of 843) had more than his 4.4 WAR over the past three seasons, an elite backend of the bullpen Boston has just acquired.

The other player that the A’s gave up is Sweeney and in him the Red Sox get a frustrating player. Sweeney, a player who perhaps “looks like a ballplayer” more than any other player in baseball, looks like a slugger but has been baffling to scouts featuring an abysmal .096 ISO since breaking into the Majors in 2006 with the Chicago White Sox (he came to Oakland in the deal that sent Nick Swisher to the South Side and brought back him, Gio Gonzalez and Fautino De Los Santos). In 1,681 plate appearances the 6’4/223# Cedar Rapids native has slugged a grand total of 14 home runs with his high water mark being the six round-trippers he collected in 2009, while the past two seasons have featured a lone home run each year. Sweeney has hit for average, his career mark being .283/.342/.378 but his severe power outage has led to him being a below average offensive player, with a .318 wOBA and 95 wRC+. His excellent fielding (particularly in 2009 when he was a +20.6 fielder) is largely responsible for him being a career 6.9 WAR player as in seasons with mere average fielding his WAR topped out in the 1-2 range, not his fluky 4.2 that he got in 2009 accounting for nearly 2/3 of his worth.

I got to say I am not crazy about this trade. I would’ve been more happy with a straight up sort of trade Bailey for a Ryan Lavarnway or even a lesser talent like a Will Middlebrooks. If the deal were just Bailey for Reddick, Alcantara and Head perhaps I’d be a little more thrilled with it though Alcantara and Head do seem to possess some intrigue. However the inclusion of Sweeney whom I am an unabashed fan of despite his underachievement to me was somewhat unnecessary. The A’s now still face a severe outfield shortage with just four outfielders on the 40-man roster – perhaps making it more likely that Brandon Allen does have a future with the club in left field. Alcantara seems very raw and very young and Head thus far has been inconsistent but clearly as a 26th-rounder did not have surefire pedigree to Theo Epstein and his crew. Sweeney’s inclusion just sort of kicks the can down the road on making another move to acquire an outfielder as there seem to be few options within the organization (lest still unclaimed Jai Miller return – not a move I’d ever advocate) and whether or not you believe that Sweeney has the stuff to be a starting right or center fielder in Major League Baseball there should be no argument that he’d serve as a capable and versatile fourth outfielder. The inclusion of Sweeney especially seems as if it should account for more talent coming back given his ability to be a fine fourth outfielder (the position I assume he would take in Boston) yet instead we get one Major League talent in Josh Reddick who thus far at least merely looks like a Ryan Sweeney of 2008/2009 with a little more pop, who walks a whole lot less (Reddick’s career BB% is 5.5% while Sweeney is at 8.3%). Overall one can argue that Sweeney is capable of being a 1.0-2.0 WAR player with Reddick maybe being a 1.5-2.5 WAR player with 3.5 upside. If this trade were Sweeney for Reddick it seems the A’s would need to sweeten the pot a bit. Sweetening it with one of the baseball’s best relief pitchers who is very affordable seems like it is over-sweetened and the inclusion of two very far from ready MiLB prospects doesn’t seem to make up the difference. This trade will not be well understood for a long time, but as of right now it seems that Billy Beane missed the most opportune moment to trade Bailey. While Kenny Williams of all people was able to deal Sergio Santos with one year of closing experience under his belt and far poorer numbers for more highly thought of talent like Nestor Molina, we trade someone who is clearly Santos’ superior and don’t really get anything in return that looks quite as good as Molina.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. December 28, 2011 11:44 pm

    You’re going to be thrilled with Reddick- and we’re going to miss him. He’s super fun to watch- and he’s going to grow into a badass.

    • December 29, 2011 12:13 am

      Thanks for chiming in! I sure hope so. You guys are getting a heck of a pitcher in Bailey. I still also think that one day the light will go on for Sweeney and he’ll be a good piece, but I’ve been saying that for years now. I just still think we gave up too much… so cheers to you!

  2. Kasper permalink
    December 29, 2011 1:44 am

    Awful trade. I don’t see Reddick hitting better than .260 at the Coliseum . I wish we got more in return.

    • December 29, 2011 1:48 am

      I don’t know if I am as low as you on Reddick. I hope for our sake you are wrong. I just don’t see him as all that special. And the player we are giving up, I think ought to have been more highly valued on the marketplace. Poor timing for the trade and it didn’t maximize value.

  3. peter permalink
    December 29, 2011 9:13 am


    Andrew Bailey ( I love him) has had TWO elbow surgeries….

    Also, at the end of the year he was giving up line-drives at a rate worthy of Carlos Reyes (there were many “loud-outs” the last month).

    Just a reminder,


    • December 29, 2011 11:34 am

      Peter –

      Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I get that Bailey is certainly an injury risk, no denying that. That all said, when healthy he has performed at a high level and in the past three years he has spent most of his time on the field as opposed to off it. To me the problem is, is that Bailey is an elite closer. Now I am the first to state that I think closers are an unnecessary luxury and a poor way to spend one’s roster money, but the market doesn’t think so, just look at Papelbon’s deal with Philadelphia. Earlier this offseason, the Jays acquired Sergio Santos from Chicago who is a far inferior closer to Bailey, that said they got a prospect in Nestor Molina back and I feel that our deal should’ve been the equivalent of Molina-plus and I just don’t feel that we got that back.

      The addition of Sweeney only further tilted the scales against us in the trade. While many are down on him I suppose your view of this trade is slightly colored by your view on Sweeney since everyone has consensus that Bailey is worthwhile. I see Sweeney as a 1.8-2.3 WAR player, if one sees him merely as a replacement level outfielder that changes how you view the deal. Regardless when dealing for such distant propsects, I’d rather have seen more come back for a player of Bailey’s stature.

      I don’t think Reddick is a bad player by any means, I just don’t think he is a leaps and bounds improvement over Sweeney and his acquisition in exchange for a player like Bailey makes it seem to me that Beane and Forst would’ve been best off waiting on dealing Bailey. Perhaps your feelings about the injury risk are what prompted them to move now lest an injury occur that saps all his trade value for a time being.

      • peter permalink
        December 29, 2011 11:52 am

        Agreed. I think Ryan Sweeney is a fairly productive player. He should not have been included in the deal. However, we also got two good prospects. remember, the White Sox got a premier relief prospect, but the A’s got an everyday outfielder..those are two different entities.

        Thanks for your blog,


      • December 29, 2011 12:02 pm

        We did get two prospects but being so distant it’s like that hurricane cone a week out when the hurricane likely will hit the Outer Banks but could make landfall anywhere from Jacksonville to Atlantic City. I’m psyched about Reddick, think he will be a good pickup and you are absolutely right that he is more useful to us today than Bailey would be. I just look at a depth chart that has four catchers but only four outfielders and wonder why aren’t we adding outfielders instead of just upgrading?

  4. Robert Healey permalink
    January 2, 2012 11:00 am

    Thanks for the great summary on the Bailey deal. It seems to make sense if that if 2 of the players have some upside the deal makes sense for the A’s. I do believe that Reddick will get better (he needs to be a bit more selective) We do need a closer . .

    • January 2, 2012 11:35 pm

      I think that the trade hinges on Raul Alcantara. I don’t expect much out of Miles Head. The talk is he will be moved over to third base where his being undersized and right-handed won’t be such a liability. It’ll be interesting to see how his progress continues. I am really not thrilled about the deal, but… I fear that this is the best that was available. I think Reddick will be interesting, hopefully he is better than I think, if not my expectation is a solid outfielder which isn’t the worst thing on earth.

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