The Red Sox made it very clear after acquiring Joel Hanrahan that the former Pirate would close and incumbent closer Andrew Bailey would be a set-up man.
How is Bailey handling the demotion? Quite well, actually.
"I’m excited to have him. I think it makes our bullpen that much stronger," said Bailey.
"I think that with me and him going eight, nine, that’s kind of set out in the forefront, I like it and I think it makes us that much stronger. The focus is on winning. It makes our team better. Plus, with everyone else in the ‘pen, it makes us one of the strongest assets on the team."
"Sure, it’s first priority for all relievers to want to close. But it’s not like I’m upset about it or anything. It’s just a tweak in the job description. It’s not the end of anything. It will be good. I’m looking forward to working with [Hanrahan]. I think it’s going to be a great duo down there, and obviously with everyone coming back, it’s going to be awesome. Like I said, there’s going to be a lot of arms to choose from and matchups. It’s going to be a lot of fun."
If you read the rest of his quotes, he says all the right things. He wants to show everyone what he can do. He wants to win. He's excited to be part of the solution.
It's good to see him admit that he would prefer to close -- otherwise I'd assume the whole thing is politics and he's just lying all over the place. It all sounds like his head is screwed on straight. He probably talked to his agent and realized that once you've closed, regardless of what happens to your role you can still get closer money. So when free agency comes in 2015, even if Bailey ends up setting up both of the next two years, he can still bill himself as a closer on the free agent market.
As far as this year goes, I have to agree with Bailey. It sounds like the team focused on making the bullpen a strength. While I've focused on it from an asset perspective in other posts (i.e., being able to trade any of Bailey, Hanrahan, Junichi Tazawa, or Koji Uehara at the deadline), if the team does end up being a contender, a strong bullpen would obviously be a major factor in the postseason.