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Monday, June 4, 2012

Should the Daniel Bard experiment continue?

TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 3: Yunel Escobar #5 of ...
TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 3: Yunel Escobar #5 of the Toronto Blue Jays is helped up after getting hit by a pitch by Daniel Bard #51 of the Boston Red Sox during MLB action at The Rogers Centre June 3, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
It was an intriguing idea. One that--if successful--would have benefitted the Red Sox in several ways. A quality starter under team control is far more valuable than a setup reliever.

When Daniel Bard approached the Sox with his desire to convert to a starter, the team vowed to give him a fair crack at the job. That shot has been given and as of now it's not working, so what does Boston do with Daniel Bard?

It's easy to say that the righty should slide right back into the eighth inning where he was among the most successful relievers in baseball the last two seasons, but would that be best for the team?



Since the disastrous start to the season, Red Sox relievers have settled in to post a 3.56 ERA overall in 174 1/3 IP. Alfredo Aceves has had bumps in the road but has locked down 14 saves. Scott Atchison has been ridiculously good this season with a 0.86 ERA in 31 1/3 IP and guys like Matt Albers, Andrew Miller, Vicente Padilla and Rich Hill have excelled at their respective jobs.

If you move Bard into that pen, somebody has to come out. At a time when the relief corp has never been better, would that be a wise move? What if the control problem carries over to the bullpen and causes a mess? Not what the Red Sox need at the moment.

The Boston Globe pointed out that there's a chance the Sox could give Bard a rest by putting him on the disabled list, but the righty said after Sundays start that nothing physical has been an issue. Should Boston push him to take a stint on the DL anyhow? They have made the move for struggling pitchers several times in recent years, so expect this to be no different.

The other thing that has to be considered in this situation is who takes the spot in the rotation? Do the Red Sox leave Bard alone until Daisuke Matsuzaka is ready and then make the move, assuming that Dice-K would be a better option?

I feel that the need for better starting pitching at several intervals already this season has skewed our perception and led us to believe that Daisuke can be a cure-all to an often mediocre rotation. Have we forgotten what kind of pitcher he is? Is the Japanese star a far better option than Bard? I'm not so sure.

TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 3: Edwin Encarnacion #1...
TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 3: Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays is hit by a pitch thrown by Daniel Bard #51 of the Boston Red Sox during MLB action at The Rogers Centre June 3, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Bobby Valentine seems to excel when it comes to roster situations, so I expect this one to be no different. Whatever move the first year manager of the Red Sox makes, it will be a well thought out, executable plan, but whether it works out or not remains to be seen.

Only one thing is certain, another outing like Sundays in Toronto and Daniel Bard will be on the outside looking in. It was disastrous to the point that a star player, Edwin Encarnacion, was injured and another had a very close call.

The ball will likely be in the hands of the former setup reliever again in 5 days, but the results of that game could very well determine whether this experiment lives on or fizzles out like so many before it.



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