I put the finishing touches on a column to project the saves category for 2011 on Monday morning. In that piece, I included Oakland receiver Andrew Bailey among the top 15 in the category.
I believe the sent message was still floating into cyberspace when news came down about Andrew Bailey’s departure from a spring training outing because of discomfort in his elbow. It was updated to “forearm” in post-game comments and then to “forearm and elbow” by the end of the day.
Later on Monday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle Tweeted that Bailey had informed her of a scheduled appointment with Dr. James Andrews for Tuesday morning. Bailey had undergone a procedure on his elbow last season by Dr. Andrews, and he underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2005.
Whenever, I read, say or begin to type the name “Dr. Andrews,” I get a little nervous. OK, so a little might be a bit of an understatement.
As of now, it’s time to re-tool the closer rankings. I was optimistic that we’d see a big year out of Bailey as a four-category candidate … until Monday. Now, I’ll join Bob Geren, Oakland fans and those fantasy owners who already drafted Bailey in anxiously awaiting the results of the tests.
Brian Fuentes steps into the closer role in Bailey’s absence, though Grant Balfour has also been added to the mix. Fuentes made news this off-season after signing with the A’s when he spoke candidly about Bailey’s place as THE closer in Oakland.
Fuentes successfully closed out 23 games for the Angels in 2010 before joining the Twins to shore up the bullpen after Joe Nathan was sidelined (and underwent Tommy John surgery himself). He’d saved 30 or more games in four of the previous five seasons, including a career-best 48 in 2009.
Fuentes isn’t the dominant pitcher that a healthy Bailey is, but he’s effective (85% success rate in career save opportunities). I’ll ponder Fuentes’ move up the rankings overnight (the update is coming on FOXSports.com Tuesday afternoon). He won’t swap into an RP1 slot, but a move into high-RP2s isn’t out of the question.
Let’s hope that it’s the last time that we see Dr. Andrews’ name for awhile.