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Buster Olney on M&M: Andrew Bailey ‘not looked at as an elite closer’

06.19.13 at 12:48 pm ET

ESPN baseball columnist Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday, following the Red Sox‘ doubleheader sweep of the Rays on Tuesday.

In Game 2, closer Andrew Bailey surrendered the tying run in the ninth inning before Jonny Gomes hit a two-run walk-off home run. It was Bailey’s third blown save of the year.

“He certainly at this stage is not looked at as an elite closer,” Olney said. “I’m sure that the Red Sox will be asking the internal questions that all teams are this time of year, is: Do we have spots where we can look for an upgrade? What can we go get? But as we talked about in recent weeks, there’s just not going to be a lot out there for bullpen help. Jesse Crain of the White Sox, maybe. Jonathan Papelbon, if the Phillies decide to sell — but you’d be taking on a lot of money and probably reduce flexibility with other part of the team.

“So, you can understand why the Red Sox are giving him a long leash. They needed to work with him.”

The Sox have been boosted this season by their depth, as players have shuttled up from the minors to help when regulars have gone down with injuries.

Said Olney: “It really is, let’s face it, a byproduct of that great trade they made last summer, which is going to go down in history as one of the greatest trades of all-time, the deal they made with the Dodgers. Because the flexibility it gave them to go out and build the depth, on top of what they had in the farm system, to go get two more terrific pitching prospects in the way that they did.

“And if you look at the sport in general, a lot of the teams, the more progressive teams, are looking for that flexibility. A team like the Oakland Athletics, probably the primary reason why they’re winning is because of the flexibility and the depth. That’s what the Rays’ advantage has always been in recent years, because they’ve always had a lot more options, a lot more pitching, and let’s face it, because they’ve had cheaper options.

“So, I agree with you, I think the Red Sox deserve a whole lot of credit for building the depth that they have. And it all started, to me, with the Dodger deal.”

Looking at the American League East, Olney said he expects the Orioles to eventually overtake the Sox for first place.

“I think the Red Sox are certainly better than I thought they would be. I picked them third at the beginning of the year. ‘€¦ I picked the Blue Jays fourth. I know they’ve had a great run; I still have my doubts as to whether or not they can hold it together. The Yankees have far outplayed what I thought, given what they have. I still think they’re headed for a drift. ‘€¦

“Before the year began, I picked the Orioles to win the division. I still think they’re going to. I think they also have a lot of depth in their organization. I think they just have to have some of the young pitchers in their rotation pull it together.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Andrew Bailey, buster olney, Jonathan Papelbon,
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