After allowing Papelbon to leave as a free agent following the 2011 season, the Red Sox acquired two-time All-Star and former AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey from the Oakland Athletics, shoring up their bullpen with a young and relatively experienced fireman.
Bailey will be tested from the start of the season both on and off the field, as he tries to assert himself and emerge from the shadow of the departed Papelbon. Though his comments yesterday did him no favors, Papelbon is beloved by Red Sox fans, and replacing him is an unenviable task for the young Bailey.
Throw in the brutally-tough AL East lineups he will have to face this season, and Bailey’s introduction to east coast baseball appears like it could be rough one.
When a team loses a four-time All-Star like Papelbon, it is easy to assume that whoever replaces him will be a downgrade. However, upon closer examination, the differences between Bailey and Papelbon shrink, and in many cases disappear.
In fact, when comparing the last three years of each player’s career, Bailey appears to be the superior player in many respects. It runs counterintuitive to the instincts of all Red Sox fans, who have grown to love Papelbon’s enthusiastic celebrations of every save and easygoing nature off the field.
It’s time for a step back, though, and to objectively compare the Red Sox’s old and new closers as the 2012 season approaches.
Here are 10 reasons why Andrew Bailey will be better than Jonathan Papelbon.