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What To Do With Andrew Bailey

Posted By Michael Barr On April 4, 2012 @ 4:15 pm In Closers | 14 Comments

Before the season started, I had a little heart-to-heart with myself about roster management. When I was writing a book last year, my editor gave me a piece of advice about certain segments of the manuscript that one might love, but just doesn’t work for one reason or another: “Sometimes, you just have to kill your babies,” she said.

I went into this season with full intent on applying that principle to my fantasy baseball roster. For too many years I’ve burned up a whole roster slot on a guy that I’m hoping will come back by the All Star Break or for the proverbial stretch run. I tend to fall in love with players and perhaps over-think what kind of value that player will give me at some undisclosed time in the future without considering what kind of value that extra roster spot will provide.

But no more.

Hi, my name is Michael, and I cut Andrew Bailey.

I owned Bailey in a non-keeper league with just one disabled list slot, already occupied by another player more likely to contribute in the short-term. I was faced with the prospect of carrying him as dead weight. For just how long he’ll be dead weight on a fantasy roster, I turned to a virtual friend of mine, B.J. Maack, who has two decades of experience as an athletic trainer and is a former trainer for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Speaking specifically about the ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb, he says the time frame won’t be known until they actually open up his hand and see what they’re dealing with (which could be today). The severity of the damage will impact what kind of graft they use to replace the injured ligament — assuming the ligament can’t be repaired, which is apparently a difficult task. One kind of graft could mean a shorter recovery while another could mean a longer recovery — we just won’t know until they’re through with the procedure — which is why we’re getting ranges of 3-4 months to 4-5 months.

But here’s the part that helped me cut the cord:

“…(R)egardless of the graft used…there are basically two time frames. One for healing after surgery (range of motion, healing time, strength), and the other being his return to pitching form (start a light throwing program, then long toss, then bullpen, then games). He could start throwing in 3 months (let’s say end of June), and then take another 6 weeks to get his arm back into shape. Bottom line, in my opinion, is that it will probably be August before we see him in a game, with the disclaimer that we won’t know until they get in there and see.”

This jibes with the 4-5 months prognosis, and although it seems possible that he could return earlier, I’m simply not willing to take that chance for a variety of reasons. First is burning the roster slot. If you’ve got multiple DL slots, then bully for you – go ahead and use one, but in this particular league, I need the flexibility.

But let’s say Bailey returns to the field in four months instead of five. Even then – tell me you can’t already hear this narrative – “Valentine plans to ease Bailey back.” How likely is it that he jumps right back into the fireman role upon his return? How many weeks will it take before they let him throw on back-to-back nights? You wait four months for the guy, and then it’s anyone’s guess when he actually starts closing regularly again. No thanks.

Lastly, there’s the possibility that the Red Sox actually have a stable bullpen by the time Bailey is ready to return. Perhaps it’s so stable, that there’s no urgency to rush him back. There’s certainly a wealth of capable candidates to take over the role – and if Alfredo Aceves manages to avoid melting down, who is to say they don’t rock the boat even upon Bailey’s return?

For Bailey, I hope they find that there’s not a ton of damage in there and he’s back on the field in a jiffy. But for fantasy purposes, I’m cutting bait and moving on.

You want a title? Kill your babies.


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