The transition seemed natural. With Jonathan Papelbon gone, Daniel Bard would take over the closing role for the Red Sox. But that is not what happened. In fact it’s been the opposite. Bard is in the rotation and based on his first four starts, he won’t be returning to the bullpen anytime soon, if at all. But is this what’s best for the team, a bullpen without Bard who has proven he can handle the late inning pressures over transitioning into a fourth, maybe a third starter. Is Daniel Bard being selfish over wanting to become a starter?
Bard came out shortly after the 2011 season and made it known that he wanted to become a starter. One fact that gets lost in all this chatter is that the Red Sox management also wanted Bard to become a starter, something that all but forced Bobby Valentine’s hand to put #51 into the rotation. Last week Bard made an appearance out of the bullpen once again putting the analysis of why he should be the closer into full blown motion.
Bard was quick to point out that after his eighth inning work in Minnesota that he does not want to pitch out of the pen. He wants to start. Bard even went as far as to say that he didn’t want to pitch out of the pen during his starts in fear of the health of his arm and his career. That statement sounds selfish, but the organization hasn’t exactly backed Bard during this whole ordeal.
Rather than come out and state that Bard would start, Valentine and others continue to skirt the issue at hand, dragging on the possibility that Bard could return to the bullpen. Bard doesn’t want that and we know that some of the higher management don’t want that. Then why can’t the management, namely Cherington come out and state that Daniel Bard will be a starter, plain and simple. Show a little support for the 26-year old if that’s the career you want for him.
With his latest start on Friday Bard may have solidified his spot in the rotation. That coupled with some arms getting healthy that will certainly help the bullpen (Rich Hill) and Bard’s value may be better suited to pitch every fifth day.
Of course there is the money side of things to consider. Starters in Boston typically cash in with the high rewarding contracts, just ask Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. Where as closers don’t get the same offers; just ask Jonathan Papelbon. I highly doubt that money is what’s driving Bard’s desire to become a starter. It’s more about the challenge of succeeding as a starter and proving he can do it, as most kids grow up with dreams of starting in the majors and not closing.
In short, this is not Daniel Bard being selfish, rather another case of how management dropped the ball and exposing one of their own to the vulnerability of public scrutiny.
Should the Red Sox decide to promote Aaron Cook next week the rotation could become crowded and Bard’s name is surely to rise as the most logical and beneficial move when looking at putting someone in the bullpen. Management will get a second chance to pull Bard from the fire if they truly believe in him as a starter. If they don’t then maybe it’s them who should be scrutinized a little more and let Bard focus on what he’s good at, pitching.