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Daniel Bard wouldn’t mind starting one day

Feb 11, 2011, 8:49 AM EDT

Boston Red Sox Daniel Bard pitches against Tampa Bay Rays during American League MLB baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston

Rob Bradford caught up with Daniel Bard in Fort Meyers yesterday and the subject of the young man’s role came up:

“How do you view yourself, as a reliever or a starter?”

“I see myself as a pitcher,” he responded without hesitation following his Thursday workout at the Red Sox minor-league training facility … Bard, a starter in college and throughout his first professional season, likes the idea of perhaps re-entering the world of a starting rotation somewhere down the line.

“I kind of would like to try it. It’s something I would like to do,” said Bard of starting again. “It would kind of challenge myself. You’ve never proven yourself, but I know I can do the reliever thing for myself, just as a personal challenge, [starting] would be cool.”

Some talent evaluator scouty type like Keith Law or Kevin Goldstein recently said on Twitter that Bard is decidedly not cut out to return to starting.  I searched around for the discussion but I couldn’t find it, so I’m not sure what the basis was for the assessment.

My sense, though, is that if there is a team who would give a guy every reasonable opportunity to start before making a him into a reliever, it’s the Red Sox.  That they have no problem with his current role and have shown no indication to want to change it suggests to me that, no, Bard doesn’t profile at all well as a starter.

  1. BC - Feb 11, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    Yeah, and Crapelbon was going to be a starter, too. Forget it. Bard is the closer-in-waiting.

    • pisano - Feb 11, 2011 at 9:29 AM

      And alot sooner than he realizes. Papelpimp will be knocked out of the closers spot not far into the season. Like another poster wrote, he’ll probably be traded at the trade deadline.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 11, 2011 at 10:37 AM

        Point me to the last time a contending team traded an average reliever (he was above-average still last year, but I’m assuming he’ll decline further this year). Not going to happen. I’d put money on it.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 11, 2011 at 11:06 AM

        Ari – You are not considering few things in your reply. First the Sox have two very capable replacements perhaps even better alternatives then Papelbon already in house (Bard and Jenks) for a lot less money. Second, they aren’t going to keep him for the 2012 season and pay him a long term contract for at least $14MM per, that ain’t gonna happen. Third, with replacements already in house and his salary to consider. He will be worth more to the Sox at the trade deadline in prospects/players then he ever will be worth if they let him walk.
        The absolute only way the Sox keep him till the end of the season is if they (Sox) don’t have faith in either Bard or Jenks and to be honest if Papelbon doesn’t improve dramatically over his 2010 performance both Bard or Jenks would be a better alternative to closing down the stretch.

      • BC - Feb 11, 2011 at 11:11 AM

        Hey, the Red Sox got Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heath Slocumb a dozen or so years ago. Anything can happen.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 11, 2011 at 11:35 AM

        But what you’re not seeing, my friend, is that if your third or fourth best reliever is still a good reliever, and you’re a contending team, there’s no reason to trade him. He will provide more value for the rest of the season in the bullpen than the minor prospect you would get for such an overpaid asset, even eating significant amounts of his contract. He’s not going to bring any value for 2012, sure, but neither is what you could get for him. We’re talking a C level prospect and salary relief, neither of which is worth as much to a contender as a quality reliever.

        Not only does this make sense when you think about it, but teams will back me up here. Again, name one quality reliever, even an overpaid one, even one in a decently stacked bullpen, who was traded by a contender in the middle of a season. If it’s not unheard-of (and I’ve never heard of), it’s extremely rare.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 11, 2011 at 12:21 PM

        I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth and please feel free to correct me if I misunderstood you. But what I gather from your comment(s) is that come the trade deadline the boy genius (Theo Epstein) doesn’t have a better or at the very least an equal to Papelbon somewhere penciled in on a board at his Fenway park office. That Bard and or Jenks couldn’t do as good a job if not better closing for the Sox then Papelbon for considerably less money. And that somewhere out there at the trade deadline there isn’t one team desperately in need of a closer willing to pick up Papelbon’s remaining salary and offer a very decent prospect or 2 or roll player.
        Since all of this if he stays or doesn’t stay is speculation on all our parts the only way to know for sure will be if Papelbon is still with the club on Oct. 3, 2011. Stay tuned for the final outcome of this and other very interesting questions.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 11, 2011 at 12:43 PM

        I think maybe our different ways to look at it stem from your idea that Papelbon has no place on the team if Bard and Jenks are there. Even if Papelbon is the 8th or 7th inning guy, he’s still quite valuable. Having an average or above-average reliever as your 3rd or 4th best guy is immensely immensely valuable. The downgrade from him to the next guy is huge. Contending teams simply do not trade 60 quality innings for salary relief in the middle of the season.

        The question is, as a contender, would you rather save $4M or so in salary relief and get a C level prospect (the most they’d get at the deadline) or have a quality reliever? The rest of your bullpen doesn’t really enter into it. It’s not that Jenks or Bard would be picking up innings Papelbon is now. It would be a replacement level reliever, a Rich Hill or Michael Bowden or Alfredo Aceves, who would be picking up those innings.

        If Theo does what no contending team ever does, I’ll be greatly surprised. But, as you said, we shall see.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 11, 2011 at 1:03 PM

        Ari – your first 2 sentences hit the nail on the head. That along with the fact I think you underestimate what Papelbon will bring as a trade chip to an especially needy GM in need of a closer.

    • uyf1950 - Feb 11, 2011 at 10:10 AM

      Gentlemen, couldn’t agree with both of you more. Also, I really like the nickname “Crapelbon”.

      pisano, I absolutely agree that “Crapelbon” will be gone/traded by the tradeline. The Red Sox are not going to let him hit FA and only get a single draft choice for him and they are NOT going to offer him a multi-year contract worth in excess of $25 to $30MM for even 2 years. Their best bet (Red Sox) is to squeeze some poor schmuck of a GM that’s looking for a closer for his team to pony up a couple of players or prospects at the trade deadline.

      • Joe - Feb 11, 2011 at 11:32 AM

        Well, there’s also the possibility (as Ari Collins aludes to above) that the value he provides to the 2011 Red Sox is worth more than what they can acquire in any trade. The Red Sox had huge problems with the bullpen last year, to the point where Scott Atchison was the #3 guy toward the end of the season. Unless a key guy gets injured or Saltalamacchia doesn’t pan out at catcher, the Sox aren’t likely to have a need greater than a solid bullpen. They aren’t going to move Papelbon simply to get something better than draft picks, they’ll only move him to improve the 2011 team.

      • pisano - Feb 11, 2011 at 7:40 PM

        uyf1950…. As I’ve always said you make more sense than just about any other poster out here and you always have the stats to back you up. I agree with your posts,and especially with Papelbum, I think he’ll be gone before the end of the season. Knowing Theo he’ll hose some one in the deal.

  2. Joe - Feb 11, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    Yeah, I’m not sure the Sox want to go there. Bard had HUGE control problems in the low minors, to the point that he was looking like a complete bust. Then he was switched to relief in a winter league, and he straightened himself out.

    Bard is real tough throwing 98-100 for an inning or so. Dial that back to 95 so he can get through seven innings, I’m not sure he’s quite so tough.

  3. rsnorth - Feb 11, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Bard made huge strides in mastering his slider last season but only began to mix in a true off-speed pitch (change-up) occasionally. He was primarily a two-pitch pitcher. I don’t believe the Red Sox want to take the time to expand his repertoire to 3 or more pitches while he’s now delivering the fastest average fastball velocity in the league and getting out critical batters in the 7th or 8th inning. He’s a better bet to replace Jonathan Papelbon as the closer in 2012 than Bobby Jenks, in my opinion.

    • Ace - Feb 11, 2011 at 10:21 AM

      Excellent points, and I agree completely. However, I’m disappointed that you referred to Papelbon without a employing a derogatory play on his last name. Papelbum, or Papsmear, for example, would have done nicely, and lent your arguments an air of credibility.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 11, 2011 at 10:39 AM

      ^^ this. He doesn’t have the repertoire to be a starter. Very different from a guy like Neftali Feliz, who is wasted in a relief role.

    • BC - Feb 11, 2011 at 2:54 PM

      If Bobby Jenks were any fatter, he’d have moons orbiting him.
      Wait. I think I used that line a while back. Sorry. Fail.

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