Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Mlb-may-pirates-dodgers
Red Sox fans received a lot of hip joke material on Wednesday, as the club announced that it has acquired closer Joel Hanrahan and infielder Brock Holt from the Pirates in exchange for Mark Melancon, Stolmy Pimental, Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus. The sooner we get all of the Steve Holt Arrested Development gags and Tommy Hanrahan Slap Shot puns out of the way, though, the sooner we’ll realize that the Red Sox might have just bolstered their bullpen in a big way. Hanrahan’s talent has become apparent in recent years. The 31-year-old has ridden a hard, biting slider and a fastball in the mid-t0-high 90s to back-to-back All-Star selections after experiencing a fair share of struggles early on in his career with the Nationals. Hanrahan went 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.274 WHIP while saving 36 games last season for the surprising Pirates, and he was even more impressive the season prior, recording 40 saves, a 1.83 ERA and a 1.049 WHIP in 68 2/3 innings for the Bucs. If Hanrahan performs at a level similar to that, the Red Sox will have a very formidable back end of the bullpen in 2013, especially with the addition of Koji Uehara earlier this offseason. The trade isn’t without risk, though. The big job for John Farrell now is to figure out how to deploy his relievers, as Andrew Bailey was previously tabbed as the team’s closer and Junichi Tazawa was also impressive down the stretch in 2012. Plus, you toss in Daniel Bard‘s uncertainty, Alfredo Aceves‘ ever-changing role on the staff and Franklin Morales‘ back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen last season, and Farrell has his hands full. That being said, as of right now, it’s a good problem to have to deal with, even if it seems that major league bullpens are often the most difficult units to predict on a year-to-year basis. The big risk instead lies in what exactly the Red Sox were dealing away in Melancon, and what impact bringing in Hanrahan will have on Bailey’s psyche. No one is going to sit here and call the Melancon era a success, as he struggled mightily out of the gate last season before getting shipped to Pawtucket. However, his career track record indicates he could wind up bouncing back in 2013. And while that’s a big if, a bounce-back year for Melancon would make it tough to justify giving up prospects — albeit second-rate prospects — and muddying the club’s closer waters in exchange for what could ultimately be a more minimal upgrade than originally anticipated. The biggest takeaways from the Hanrahan deal are that there still might be some concerns about Bailey — who finished last season with an ERA north of 7.00 after sitting out until Aug. 14 with a thumb injury — and there was obviously some skepticism about whether Melancon was capable of being the reliable, late-inning, setup guy the Red Sox thought they were acquiring from the Astros last offseason. In an ideal world for the Red Sox, Bailey will welcome the challenge of serving as the team’s primary setup man with open arms, and be sandwiched by Uehara in the seventh and Hanrahan in the ninth. The worst case scenario would be Hanrahan experiencing a not-so-smooth transition to the American League brand of ball and a closer-by-committee debacle breaking out as Melancon thrives in the Steel City as Jason Grilli‘s setup man. Considering where the Boston bullpen ranked last season — 19th- in ERA (3.88), 18th in WHIP (1.29) and 18th in batting average against (.240) — switching things up probably isn’t a bad thing. The risk/reward factor is quite obvious in this case, though, and that’s without yet factoring in the impact that Pimental, Sands or De Jesus might have in Pittsburgh. Pimental, who was the 20th-ranked prospect in the Boston system, according to SoxProspects.com, probably has the most potential of the bunch, although none of the three come with “top prospect” hype. So again, the biggest factor in determining how successful this trade ultimately is for the Red Sox will be how much of an upgrade Hanrahan provides over Melancon and whether Bailey experiences any adverse effects from bringing in a new closer. Now, the Red Sox must figure out how exactly they’re going to go about getting to their revamped bullpen, as another season like last year’s for the starting rotation won’t do the trick. Click here to see how Hanrahan and Brock responded to news of the trade >>
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Darrelle Revis on Calvin Johnson: 'A man among boys'

LeBron: Teaching Cavs bigger challenge than winning first ring

Jets-Bills game won't be played in Buffalo on Sunday

LeGarrette Blount apologizes to former teammates, fans

Pilar Sanders posts audio of children saying Deion is abusive

Kobe Bryant dishes on trash talk with Dwight Howard

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Raiders owner Mark Davis: 'We want to stay here in Oakland'

Terrance Knighton: Broncos fans are ‘high-maintenance'

Ex-NFL player delivers own baby on North Carolina farm

USC players not happy about Josh Shaw reinstatement

FSU student: Books stopped bullets from hitting me

Jets-Bills game could be moved to Detroit, Toronto, New Jersey

Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri: Full card preview

Could Josh Gordon put Cleveland Browns over the top?

Nike cancels 'AI' sneaker in light of Allen Iverson protest

Rick Pitino calls releasing pre-March rankings 'a football thing'

Lauren Hill surprises Devon Still with gift after practice

Raiders fans take out ad calling for Hue Jackson return

Eagles broadcaster has Cowboys turkey for Thanksgiving

Nick Young on his swag: 'I’m like Michael Jackson, Prince'

Le'Veon Bell adds Steelers o-line to award candidacy picture

Ranking the NBA's most exciting rookies

Steve Smith drops fantastic line about playing in prime-time

Five NFL teams we still have no clue about

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

LeBron on challenge of leading Cavaliers

LeGarrette Blount issues apology

Phelps' alleged GF born a man?

Bears considered benching Cutler?

Can Cardinals win a Super Bowl with Drew Stanton?

Steeler: Blount's release a blessing

WATCH: Carter moved by tribute

Giancarlo Stanton and the cost of becoming a boss

Report: Sandoval headed to Red Sox

VIDEO: HBO's 'Under The Lights' is a must watch

Brady: Belichick not as he seems

The NFL Chick gloriously interviews for the Gators head coach job

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.