Bard Back to the Bullpen

The Daniel Bard experiment might be over. After the right-hander posted a bloated 7.11 ERA in just 12.2 innings this spring as a starter, the Boston Red Sox reportedly are considering returning Bard to the bullpen. While Boston had big plans for the 26-year-old — the team traded for relievers Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon this past offseason — the move back to the ‘pen shouldn’t be seen as a failure.

 

It’s important not to take Spring Training results too seriously, but for a player like Bard, they actually did matter. As a starter, there was a good chance Bard would be much more valuable to the Red Sox. Though he had a history of control issues — his first year in Boston saw him post an ugly 4.01 BB/9 rate in nearly 50 innings — Bard appeared to have begun shaking off those problems and had become a reliably dominant arm for the team. Then spring came around, and Bard walked 10 batters — twice as many as any other Sox pitcher.

But, hey, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. After all, Bard has been one of the majors’ better relievers and owns 3.4 WAR in that role during the past two seasons. Plus, now he’s going to join both Bailey and Melancon, which should make Boston’s bullpen among baseball’s strongest.

Take a look at this:

ZiPS Projections IP K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
Daniel Bard 71.1 9.47 3.41 3.03 3.24
Mark Melancon 57.2 7.49 3.12 3.59 3.69
Andrew Bailey 53.1 8.95 2.7 3.04 2.92

That’s a formidable bullpen back-end. If the Red Sox can make it to through the sixth inning with a lead, this trio should be able to secure a lot of wins.

But with Bard returning to his old role, the Red Sox rotation remains a problem. Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront seem to be the most likely fourth and fifth starters at this point — with Aaron Cook potentially playing a role as well. The problem is, it’s tough to know exactly how effective Aceves and Doubront will be.

ZiPS Projections IP K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
Alfredo Aceves 79.0 5.92 3.53 3.76 4.38
Felix Doubront 93.2 6.15 3.94 4.80 4.49
Aaron Cook 117.1 4.30 3.15 4.99 4.58

Neither Aceves nor Doubront were projected as full-time starters, which means we need to take these projections with a grain of salt. Aaron Cook is the only known quantity of the three, but his results have been less than impressive. While the trio seems a bit underwhelming, it’s tough to claim that Bard would have been a better choice. In 2007, Bard’s last year as a starter, he walked 78 batters and struck out out only 47 across two minor-league levels.

Even if Bard had survived Spring Training as a starter, there were questions whether his repertoire would translate to the rotation. Just recently, Bobby Valentine had been frustrated that Bard hadn’t thrown more change-ups this spring. Bard used the change 7.4% of the time last season, but the pitch rated poorly when it came to pitch types. While some pitchers can get away with just two pitches, Bard probably should have worked on the extra pitch a bit more this spring.

So, basically, the Red Sox rotation is about the same as it was at the end of last year: a weak spot. But perhaps there’s little that Bard could have done to help the situation in the first place. Until Daisuke Matsuzaka returns from Tommy John surgery later this summer, Boston will rely a couple of unknowns — something that wouldn’t have changed had Bard remained in a starting role. But with Bard’s move back to the bullpen, the Red Sox at least know what they’ll be getting.



Print This Post



Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
chulton
Member
chulton
4 years 6 months ago

I assure you Dice-K will do nothing to help this teams rotation

Brandon T
Guest
Brandon T
4 years 6 months ago

He could order sushi…

Eric
Guest
Eric
4 years 6 months ago

Dice K should be back by June and could be a big boost as a #4 or 5. The key is (and has been for several years now) the health of Beckett, Lester and Bucholtz.

Eric
Guest
Eric
4 years 6 months ago

And don’t forget that Valentine speaks Japanese. I have a feeling that might help the temperamental DiceK

Mafrth77
Member
Mafrth77
4 years 6 months ago

Matsuzaka is a flyball pitcher who walks 4.5 guys per 9 and needs a 100 pitches to get through 5 innings when he’s healthy. There is no way he will be useful right off TJ surgery.

Cold
Guest
Cold
4 years 6 months ago

LOL! Nice dude. I love DICE K, but what a 1-yr wonder in the MLB with huge expectation. Man, it makes me wonder if Darvish will be a big deal at first and then fizzle.

MustBunique
Member
Member
4 years 6 months ago

Big fan of the typo in your table calling Aaron Cook “Aaron Cool.” Can you leave that and it will be his new nicko from here on out?

Investors? Maybe you!

Kampfer
Guest
Kampfer
4 years 6 months ago

If I were Aaron Cook I would be more than happy to be called “Aaron Cool”

JCzymurgist
Guest
JCzymurgist
4 years 6 months ago

Wher are you getting this information? As far as I can tell, it is only rumor.

AL Eastbound
Guest
4 years 6 months ago

That leaves Sale and Feliz. Another writer thought Bard was the best bet to stick too.

nes
Guest
nes
4 years 6 months ago

We all know that Oswalt will eventually sign with Boston. They’ll be just fine.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
4 years 6 months ago

I don’t know whether this is being sarcastic or not, but honestly I think he’ll stick with the Cards. They’ve been after him this whole time, moreso than the Red Sox, and I don’t think Oswalt, at this stage in his career, can handle pitching in the heat of the AL East.

Jaques
Guest
Jaques
4 years 6 months ago

We all know this? Yep, sounds like sarcasm…I hope.

Richie
Member
Richie
4 years 6 months ago

nes is essentially correct, in that when you can take on salary the way the Red Sox can, a solution or two will present itself come summertime at the latest.

wolf9309
Guest
wolf9309
4 years 6 months ago

“the Boston Red Sox now plan to return Bard to the bullpen”

That may become true, but as of now isn’t. It’s speculation.

KB
Guest
KB
4 years 6 months ago

This is really irresponsible reporting/analysis. I know of no confirmation (or anything beyond rumor) that this is the case. And yet you just state it point blank, without linking to anything (not even a story talking about the speculation).

Even if it turns out to be true, this is irresponsible writing. Show your work. Or don’t post.

jrdo410
Guest
jrdo410
4 years 6 months ago

or don’t read?

1) this being reported everywhere, 2) this isn’t the new york times, solid speculation should be discussed here, 3) the analysis is timely and solid, 4) its a statement of the obvious, 5) there is a link.

wolf9309
Guest
wolf9309
4 years 6 months ago

the link was added later, and the wording was changed from the original- originally, it just said that the Red Sox are moving Bard back into the bullpen, and the tone of the article was as if it was fact… and it’s not being reported everywhere. In fact, that article is the only place I’ve seen even reference a secondary source. I’ve seen other places reporting on that article.

Preston
Guest
Preston
4 years 6 months ago

Red Sox fans get angry when they hear bad news, not your fault Chris.

KB
Guest
KB
4 years 6 months ago

Originally there was not a link (believe me, I looked, because it was the first I had heard that a definitive decision had been made). Further, the article originally said “the Boston Red Sox are returning Bard to the bullpen.” Now there is a link, and the article says “the Boston Red Sox are reportedly returning Bard to the bullpen.”

I have no problem with speculation being reported, but the original text wasn’t phrased as speculation. And regardless, if it’s being reported, there should be a link to the report.

But now this is all fixed, so we’re cool! Didn’t mean to be ornery — you guys do good work!

KyleL
Member
KyleL
4 years 6 months ago

I was actually going to comment on this as well. In the beginning of the article you even point out that they are considering it, but by the end of the article you are talking about it as if it has already been decided. Not a big deal, just inconsistent and not actually the case as of now.

baty
Guest
baty
4 years 6 months ago

If you’re going to give a guy like Bard a shot to make the transition, how does it make any sense to give him a 12 inning tryout. Why even try at all, if you’re just hoping he’d be able to magically jump back into it. The guy hasn’t done this on a regular basis in a handful of years, and even then he struggled, so in his case, gaining experience and learning how to do it was an obvious necessity. We were already figuring he wasn’t going to be able to do what CJ Wilson did over a Spring’s worth of time.

Preston
Guest
Preston
4 years 6 months ago

The bullpen was a huge strength of this Boston team a year ago. With Papelbon gone, and Aceves and Bard in the rotation I don’t think it would be as good with Bailey and Melancon. Putting Bard in the closer or setup role makes this a great bullpen again. And looking at what they have in the back end of the rotation (and considering Buchholz’s back) they will probably need a really good, deep pen. I think Aceves has a shot at being solid and Doubront should probably given a shot since he’s out of options.

NBarnes
Guest
NBarnes
4 years 6 months ago

I’m sure it will work out. Boston’s well-known starting pitching depth will make this less of a problem than moving a high-ceiling arm to the bullpen might often be. Right?

…..

Right?

JCA
Guest
JCA
4 years 6 months ago

Here is a link to the article where a beat reporter, Sean McAdam, reports that a Red Sox staff member has reported to others outsdie the organization that Aceves and Doubront will be the 4th and 5th starters. At least McAdam is willing to put his name to this.
http://www.csnne.com/blog/redsox-talk/post/Bard-could-be-odd-man-out-of-rotation?blockID=674310&feedID=3352

Preston
Guest
Preston
4 years 6 months ago

There is a link to that article in this post.

Joebrady
Guest
4 years 6 months ago

“Bobby Valentine had been frustrated that Bard hadn’t thrown more change-ups this spring. Bard used the change 7.4% of the time last season, but the pitch rated poorly when it came to pitch types. While some pitchers can get away with just two pitches, Bard probably should have worked on the extra pitch a bit more this spring.”

Yeah, good idea. Maybe we should hire someone to make sure Bard works on the changeup more during the game. Give him a title like ‘manager’ or something to make it official. It is unfortunate that Valentine doesn’t have the authority to make Bard throw more changeups.

miffleball
Guest
miffleball
4 years 6 months ago

don’t they already have lester, beckett, buchholz and lackey as their first four starters? doesn’t that mean they only need a back end starter (4 or 5 depending on how you want to classify lackey at this point)? doesn’t that make it a bit easier to swallow bard moving back to the bullpen to solidify it?

Preston
Guest
Preston
4 years 6 months ago

Ummm… Lackey is out for the season.

Shane
Guest
Shane
4 years 6 months ago

Thank god, the only problem is that since he is missing a season, another season gets tacked on at the end of the contract.

Bill Burke
Guest
Bill Burke
4 years 6 months ago

I hope not….not a good move, but what the hell,, everyone is worried about 4 and5….Me I am worried about 1,2,3….a six inning pitcher, A pitcher capable and with all his money, cannot stay in shape, And #3 very brittle. A gamble…..The sox will be lucky to get 3rd place in the east..Good thing they can hit…

Joe
Guest
Joe
4 years 6 months ago

If true this makes the deal of Lowrie/Weiland for Melancolm look even worse

Have to wonder if Lowrie might be valuable to a team like, I don’t know…. the Phillies, who also happen to be wanting to get rid of Blanton.

This is why the analysis of the Scutaro and Lowrie trades which were base more on the “the Red Sox have so much infield depth” reasoning were misguided and the value returned should have been the key factor.

Joebrady
Guest
4 years 6 months ago

We could get Blanton for nothing more than assuming his contract. Why would we have wanted to trade Lowrie for him?

Judy
Guest
Judy
4 years 6 months ago

Nobody’s told Bard that he’s out of the rotation yet. He did a radio interview today and he still thinks he’s starting.

Chris
Guest
Chris
4 years 6 months ago

Fangraphs is not a news source. Its analysis. Leave the reporting to other people. You, Chris Cwik, have no inside knowledge and it would be great if didn’t write your articles under the guise of an ‘insider’

Fangraphs….is there no editorial control? Its not a bad article….the problem is his first assumption (Bard going to bullpen) is a gigantic assumption.

Ugh. I wish I could quit you, fangraphs.

Hunter
Guest
Hunter
4 years 6 months ago

I, really don’t get all the fake anger over thus article. He linked to an article and said things like ” might” and reportedly. You are just being the pissy little fans I would expect my two year old to act like.

Joebrady
Guest
4 years 6 months ago

It’s not a big thing, but it is not right also. When I read the headline, I assumed that Bard had officially moved back to the BP. That’s not the case.

John
Guest
John
4 years 6 months ago

Chris:
Adding a question mark in the headline may alleviate some of the negative feedback you’re seeing here.

JB Knox
Guest
4 years 6 months ago

Bards numbers as a starter this spring were 3ER in 10 IP and the reason his ERA is bloated is from what relief appearance where he got shelled fro 7ER in 2.2 IP against St. Louis.

I think he can be a starter and I’m not worried at all about the fact that he only has two pitches. Pineda and Ogando both survived last year with pretty decent numbers with Fastball/Slider and a show me change-up. Same repertoire as Bard.

http://1313sports.com/2012/02/10/daniel-bardscouting-report/

Judy
Guest
Judy
4 years 5 months ago

And the clueless Boston media strikes again.

wpDiscuz