"Whatever the Red Sox get from Daniel Bard is a bonus."
"If Daniel Bard can figure it out, it will be like the best mid-season trade the club can make."
Get ready to hear all these cliches during Spring Training as every Daniel Bard B-Game appearance and bullpen is scrutinized. If he manages to go an inning without decapitating Wally from the mound, observers will be hoping that Bard has rediscovered the strike zone.
For most of baseball history all relief pitchers had one thing in common: they were not good enough to be starting pitchers. A recent troubling trend in Major League Baseball is the trend of rushing premium arms to the majors to prop up the bullpen. Rany Jazayerli and Joe Sheehan covered this in great detail on their excellent "Baseball Show with Rany and Joe" podcast. Some like Adam Wainwright and David Price make it back to the rotation, while others like Neftali Feliz, and to date Aroldis Chapman are trapped in the bullpen in perpetuity. Modern managers are loathe to lose their hard-throwing security blankets in the bullpen.
The decision to attempt to move Bard into the rotation was a defensible one. He had a three pitch mix that should have translated to the rotation. In the rotation his mechanics were all out of whack, as his velocity plummeted almost as badly as his control. He also altered his approach way too much. At times he tried to pitch like Derek Lowe and induce ground balls instead of being the strikeout pitcher he is. Lou Merloni on WEEI made an insightful contrast between Bard and Franklin Morales. When moved to the rotation, Morales just kept doing what he had done in the bullpen and didn't try to reinvent the wheel.
If Bard can rediscover his mechanics and his upper 90's heat that will be half the battle. In the bullpen his control doesn't have to be great, he just has to not walk the ballpark. John Farrell, after being hired mentioned that pitching every day has and should make it easier for Bard to maintain his mechanics as opposed to only pitching every fifth day.
The Red Sox have built what appears to be a deep bullpen, and will not be counting on Bard. Given how disastrous his 2012 was there nobody would argue that they could or should. His last start in Toronto was as awkward and uncomfortable to watch as anything Michael Scott has ever done on "The Office." Nobody's career should end like that.
Follow me on Twitter @JChalifour Jason Chalifour 1/22/2013 02:30:00 PM Tweet