Signing Andrew Bailey was a great move by the Yankees, but before you get excited that he'll be the second closer in 2014, it's likely he won't pitch in many meaningful baseball games this season.
Joe Girardi says he doesnt expect much help from Andrew Bailey this year. Says timetable is likely not midsummer, but closer to september.— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) February 23, 2014
If you were unaware, Bailey was one of the many closers the Red Sox employed in 2013. Unfortunately, he went down with a shoulder injury, tearing both his labrum and capsule. He underwent surgery to repair the damage in July, but has yet to pick up a baseball.
When the signing was announced, many believed that he would be ready at around midseason and could represent an alternative to a trade deadline deal. Because of the seriousness of the injury –This is a career-threatening injury (Remember, Chien-Ming Wang suffered a capsule tear back in 2009)–and where he is in his recovery, it's easy to see that at no point should Bailey be counted on to contribute this year. If David Robertson proves to somehow be a lousy closer, Bailey isn't going to come to the rescue. If Shawn Kelley can't get the ball to the ninth, Bailey won't be the solution. If the 2014 bullpen runs into a problem, the Yankees are still going to have to find a solution.
He admitted that "there's really no timetable for this kind of thing. I'm not going to rush it. I'm going to do it right. The prototypical response is that it's a 12-month rehab and I'm seven months in, so you can take that and run with it." This means that he should be able to throw by this coming July. It could also take longer than that. He'll need to rebuild arm strength, get back onto the mound, start facing live hitters, do a minor league rehab assignment, and then maybe he can join the club, if he's healthy and represents an improvement.
What we all need to do is forget that he will even be around. Don't expect him and don't think he's in the Yankees' back pocket, because they're not expecting anything. When the Yankees signed David Aardsma, a former closer trying to return from injury, they got exactly one inning from him in September in the first year of the deal. They ultimately cut him before the 2013 season, but the point is that he was supposed to help in the second year of the contract. So now with Bailey, they'll pay him for his rehab and support him, but in return they get an extra year from him when he's healthy.
This signing isn't so much to help in 2014, but actually in 2015. If he ends up contributing in September, don't expect much, that's not what he's here for. What they hope Bailey represents is an insurance policy in case David Robertson signs elsewhere. He's their high-risk/high-reward signing for next season.