In its latest and most noteworthy bullpen move in what appears to be an offseason overhaul, Boston traded for All-Star closer Andrew Bailey in a five-player deal with the Athletics.
In the deal, Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney head to Boston in exchange for OF Josh Reddick and prospects Miles Head and Raul Alcantara. Bailey, 27, racked up 24 saves in 42 appearances and 41 innings for the A’s and will be the Red Sox’s opening day closer with Mark Melancon and Daniel Bard setting up.
Boston also received a fourth outfielder type in Sweeney, a career .286 hitter who did decently in spot duty for the Athletics last season. Oakland’s main return is the 24-year-old outfielder Reddick, who hit .280/.327/.457 in 87 games for the Red Sox. He displayed flashes of power, but it’s yet to be seen if hey can be an everyday major league player. In that way, some analysts wonder how different Sweeney and Reddick actually are.
The minor league return was solid for Billy Beane, with 1B/3B Miles Head coming over from Boston. Head, 20, put up good power numbers in low-A but couldn’t replicate those numbers at advanced-A Salem. Expect the righty hitting Head to start 2012 in advanced-A in the California League and progress from there. The other piece the A’s got was Raul Alcantara, a righty starter still slowly developing in short season ball.
With Bailey still under cheap team control, Boston and GM Ben Cherington could now spend more on rotation help. Quality starters still available include righties Roy Oswalt and Hiroki Kuroda along with lefty Joe Saunders.
Two More Stars Sidelined By Concussions
Nashville’s most important player, captain and annual Norris Trophy finalist Shea Webber, and an LA Kings star are out indefinitely with a concussion, it was announced on Tuesday.
The Predators, with their defensive style, cannot afford a long absence from Webber, who is fourth in the league in ice time and a leader both on and off the ice. Webber has 29 points so far for the team holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Nashville admits it will be tough to replace Webber in the lineup.
“Not all injuries are created equal and not all players are equal,” GM David Polie said, “This is obviously a challenge for us for whatever length of time he’ll be out. It’s going to be real interesting to see how our team responds.”
Head coach Barry Trotz says he thinks there’s a chance Webber returns on Friday, but history would indicate that a swift return is not only unlikely, but foolish as well. Webber will be added to the list of superstars missing time because of concussions this season, joining the likes of Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux. An All-Star team of concussed players could probably give the real midseason awardees a good run.
Another player on that team could be Kings winger Simon Gagne, who suffered a concussion on Monday, according to ESPN Los Angeles. The 31-year-old 11-year veteran has 17 points this season and scored 17 goals last season for Tampa Bay. The team would not elaborate about Gagne’s injury, but it appears Gagne is another victim of hockey’s largest trend this season.
Pittsburgh Keeps Pace In Crowded East
The Penguins are one of four teams in the conference within three points of the first place Rangers after a 4-2 win over Carolina on Tuesday.
It was the fourth straight win for Pittsburgh after the team erupted for three goals in the third period to steal a win from the foundering Hurricanes. Carolina only managed 18 shots on net in the contest to Pittsburgh’s 52. Hurricanes goalie Justin Peters had 48 saves in defeat, but it wasn’t enough in an admirable season debut.
“The goalie was playing really well and looked really good,” said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, “but you want to keep playing on and want to keep putting pressure on their whole team, including their goalie. When you force it that way, you eventually feel like you’re going to break a team and get to their goalie, which we were able to do.”
Steve Sullivan, Pascal Dupuis and Jordan Staal broke through in the final 20 minutes for Pittsburgh, with Tyler Kennedy adding assists on two of the third period tallies. Evgeni Malkin also had two more assists for the Pens, tying him with Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux for second in the league with 42 points, and those two players are also tied for third place in the league with 27 assists. James Neal scored his 21st of the season for the other Penguins goal, one behind the league lead.
The win pulled Pittsburgh into a tie for fourth place in the conference with in-state rival Philadelphia, who dropped a 5-1 decision on Tuesday to Tampa Bay to remain at 46 points. Florida is in third in the conference despite having 45 points because they lead the Southeast Division. The Panthers got a 5-3 win over Toronto on Tuesday behind three Brian Campbell assists, 29 Jose Theodore saves and a bad night in net from the Leafs’ James Reimer.
Games To Watch
Wednesday- Minnesota has lost seven straight games to fall from first in the league to sixth in the Western Conference. They face a Nashville team without Shea Webber in a must-win game for the Wild. Vancouver battles San Jose in a top three battle in the Western Conference. The Rangers visit Washington in the Versus game.
Thursday- Most of the games on Thursday are relatively unexciting except for Philadelphia against Pittsburgh in a Pennsylvania showdown that would actually be a first round playoff matchup if the season ended today.