The sad story of Daniel Bard in a Red Sox uniform came to a probable end today when the Red Sox, looking to create roster space on the 40-man for the recently acquired Quintin Berry and John McDonald, finally made the move many were anticipating for a while and designated him for assignment.
This means that in the next ten days Bard will pass through waivers. Any team can claim him, starting from descending order of record, first in the American League and then in the National League.
The Red Sox could let him go to the claiming team or work out a deal with that team. If no team claims him he could return to the Red Sox, but off the 40-man roster.
Bard basically could not throw a strike in the minor leagues this season as he worked around an abdominal injury. The ineffectiveness when healthy seemed to seal his fate with the Red Sox organization. They didn’t want to make this move but were forced to due to 40-man roster space limitations.
However, with a power arm like his and still young age (28) it is almost certain some team will take a flyer on Bard and hope a change of scenery will be what he needs to recapture his former glory. For this reason, it is not likely he will be back in the Sox system.
Bard was once considered Boston’s future closer, the heir apparent to the departed Jonathan Papelbon. But a combination of team need, stubbornness on the part of the front office to find a cheap starting pitching solution in-house and the desire of Bard to become a starter are what combined to bring this story to where it is now.
It’s not only a sad story but an unnecessary one as Bard was possibly the best setup reliever in baseball. The combination of a smooth delivery and raw power in his arm made him a deadly weapon for the team from 2008-2011. He could be used in big spots in multiple innings and get the key big outs prior to the ninth inning. Why you would ever tamper with that success is the burning question on most everyone’s mind that has watched the Bard saga unfold.
Unfortunately, the lasting memory of Bard in a Red Sox uniform on a major league mound, barring his unlikely return, will forever be June 3, 2012 in Toronto.
It was a frightening performance in which Bard pitched 1.2 innings while giving up five earned runs (including a three-run homer to Jose Bautista) on only one hit but with six walks and two hit batsmen. He had to be pulled from the game for the safety of the Blue Jays players, many of whom said after the game that they couldn’t be sure if Bard knew where his pitches were going.
Bobby Valentine was wrong about a lot of things in his one season as manager of the 2012 Red Sox, but one thing he was right about was to keep Bard as a reliever. He thought, the kid is proven in his role why mess with success?
Bard’s implosion is one of the few bad miss-steps in Ben Cherington’s time as GM. But it’s a big one because it simply didn’t have to happen the way it did. If Bard continued as a reliever and then suddenly lost it, the story is easier to digest.
Let’s sincerely hope Bard can regain his form in another uniform (but not in the Bronx). It’s too bad his Sox career had to end this way.