It's a bad sign when the positive interpretation of your year is "lost season."
For Red Sox fans the hope is that 2012 will wind up being seen as a blip in Andrew Bailey's career. The fear is that it will be seen as the turning point when a flyball-heavy, injury-prone closer came to Fenway Park and justified everyone's greatest concerns with a trade that's looking pretty bad right now.
The problem is that it's hard to write 2012 off as that blip. Is it any surprise that, after injuries held him under 50 innings in each of the last two years, Bailey would once again find himself on the disabled list, missing better than the first half of the season after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his thumb? That's hardly an outlier.
It doesn't help that when Bailey got back he managed to blow three saves in nine chances and ended the year with an ERA north of 7.00. The velocity was there, the strikeouts were there, but the control was not, and it cost him big in a few outings. At least here the injury can act as something of an excuse--if Bailey is not perfectly suited to pitch in Fenway Park, some amount of this has o be chalked up to rust. He's simply not this bad of a pitcher.
Still, whether he's capable of producing the same ERA he did in Oakland or not, it's going to be awfully hard to trust in Bailey as a closer going forward simply because of how likely it is on any given day that he won't be there. For the Red Sox, at least, this might be an easier blow to take than for most other teams, given the impressive bullpen depth they suddenly find themselves blessed with.
That doesn't make it any easier a pill to swallow, though, when you look across the country and see Josh Reddick hitting 32 homers in Oakland. He may not be the most balanced of players, but anyone who can leave the park that often while providing a good outfield glove is worth more than an unreliable closer. Which is to say nothing of the impressive performance of Miles Head in the minors.
Ben Cherington, this was not your best work.