Sox boost their bullpen, Yankees get starting pitching, Rays add power
By Joshua Tessler
The Anaheim Angels spent 331.5 million dollars this offseason as they brought one of the best power hitters in all of baseball, Albert Pujols, to sunny southern California. Not only, was Pujols signed to a massive contract, but pitcher, C.J. Wilson also signed a contract worth 77.5 million dollars. You may ask what the Red Sox did to compete with the Angels’ big offseason moves. The answer can be summed up in one name, Andrew Bailey.
Andrew Bailey, a Philadelphia-native closer was dealt from the Oakland Athletics to the Red Sox on December 28th with right fielder, Ryan Sweeney for fellow right fielder, Josh Reddick and two minor league prospects. Last season, Andrew Bailey threw in forty-two games with an ERA of 3.24, 41 strikeouts, and 24 saves.
Bailey was brought to the Green Monster to replace former closer, Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon was one of the Red Sox’s 2007 World Series gems, but this off-season signed a four-year contract worth 50 million dollars with the Philadelphia Phillies. It seems that Bailey is very optimistic and excited to be bringing his services to Boston.
“From what I’ve experienced so far, Boston fans are great. I’ve never played in Philly, so I don’t know what those fans are like. But for me growing up there, growing up a Phillies fan, they’re great, too. But so far the Nation is pretty good. To say one fan base is better than the other, I’ve never really seen that, but it’s definitely welcome to be here,” Bailey said on MLB.com.
However, the Red Sox knew that to compete with the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays that they would need to bolster their bullpen a bit more. The General Manager of the Red Sox, Ben Cherington dealt short-stop, Jed Lowrie and pitcher, Kyle Weiland to the Houston Astros for relief pitcher, Mark Melancon.
Melancon had a 3.21 ERA last season with 98 strikeouts and will likely be used in the Red Sox’s bullpen as a set-up man. The Red Sox recently announced that relief pitcher, Daniel Bard will be the fifth starter in the starting rotation, while Melancon will fill the void left by Bard.
The Boston Red Sox were not the only team in the American League East Division to make some critical off-season transactions. The New York Yankees acquired starting pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda and starting pitcher, Michael Pineda.
In early January, the Yankees signed Kuroda to a one-year contract for ten million dollars. Last season, Kuroda was one of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ key starters, with thirteen wins and sixteen losses with a 3.07 ERA. Kuroda is an excellent addition to a Yankees staff, which struggled last season.
“Stuffwise, Hiroki Kuroda is a hell of a bargain at $10 million. This spring he’s sitting 92, 93 mph, and he’s thrown some really good hard cutters. His split is a strikeout pitch, he doesn’t have a bad curveball and he also has a slider. Sometimes I think he throws too many pitches. Maybe if he only had three really good ones, he’d command those a little easier,” Albert Chen of Sports Illustrated said in his AL East Preview.
Michael Pineda will also be a valuable asset down the stretch. The Yankees dealt catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for Pineda and Jose Campos. Although, last Saturday, the Yankees announced that Pineda will begin the regular season on the disabled list due to inflammation in a shoulder tension.
“The injury to the former Mariner helped the Yankees settle their rotation, at least to begin the season. C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia, another former Mariner, will begin as New York’s starters,” The Seattle Times online news services reported.
The Tampa Bay Rays made very little additions during the off-season. The Rays added: designated hitter, Luke Scott; first baseman, Carlos Pena; and catcher, Jose Molina.
During the off-season, former Baltimore Oriole, Scott wanted to take his talents down to the Sunshine State, so he signed a one-year deal with a player option with the Rays. Last season, Scott did not play a full-season for the Orioles, only playing sixty-four games while hitting with a .220 batting average. Scott also spent a bit of time in the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate, the Bowie Baysox. Scott is looking for a rebound season.
The Rays also brought back, former Ray, Carlos Pena. Last season, Pena played for the Chicago Cubs. Where, he was projected to have big numbers with the smaller dimensions at Wrigley Field than at Tampas Park. Instead, he had a batting average of .225 with twenty-eight home runs and eighty runs batted in.
“He’s (Joe Maddon, Rays’ Manager) a magician at putting a solid team on the field every day and maximizing everyone’s ability. They have a chance to hit a lot of homeruns, with Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and Luke Scott,” Chen said of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Major League Baseball regular season has already began in Tokyo, Japan with an opening series between the Athletics and the Mariners. The AL East teams will begin their season this upcoming weekend.