Daniel Bard was supposed to be the "lock" fourth starter heading into the 2011 season.
So far, I'm not impressed.
A long time ago I learned how statistics can be used to make your point in no matter what argument. For those pandering for Daniel Bard to still be a starter, they will tout his spring stats.
He doesn't pass the eyeball test.
Not mine at least.
Watching him pitch has become painful. While I know he is trying to develop a third and fourth pitch, he's having obvious issues being successful.
Bard is known for his fastball that can reach 100mph, but is consistently in the 96-98 range.
His slider is also a nice pitch with decent snap to it. Or at least historically it has.
However, his sliders this spring have lacked that ideal snap. The pitch often finds itself out of the lower left section of the pitch zone and has become a pass ball one too many times.
The scary notion is that this is supposed to be his second pitch.
While he is trying to develop a two-seamer and circle change, neither have looked all too impressive.
A great deal of conditioning is required to make the switch from the bullpen to the starting rotation. I challenge you to name me five closing or relief pitchers in general that have gone on to have memorable starting careers.
The scenario works if flip-flopped; see: Mariano Rivereira, Goose Gossage, Bob Stanley or Dennis Eckersley to name a few.
While I question Bard's makeup and mentality to be a closer, I think his role is best defined as a pitcher that can take over the latter day Tim Wakefield role: an everyman.
Bard has the capability of being a closer every once in a blue moon, but can be best served as a set-up man or used in long relief.
Felix Doubront is proving himself quite nicely this spring. Aside from a minor hiccup the other day, so too is Alfredo Aceves.
The Red Sox also have Aaron Cook to fall back on as well as Vicente Padilla and in time, Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Moving Bard back to the bullpen allows for the team to have a solid starting five with an insanely deep bullpen, something that most clubs would long for.
It would be there that Bard's value could skyrocket. Teams that are looking to acquire a closer, reliever or starter would likely be checking in on Bard's availability.
Sure, I said I question Bard's mental makeup as a closer, but there are teams that could be willing to roll the dice on him.
Perhaps a team like the Cincinnati Reds, who will feel the pain of losing Ryan Madson before he even threw a pitch for them in the regular season.
Sure, the team could turn to Aroldis Chapman to be their closer, but he is a pitcher that is best suited in a starting role, in my humble opinion.
The wisest thing the Red Sox front office can do right now is to put Bard in the bullpen and allow him a spot start here and there to establish his value.
Then, when the time is right, pull the trigger on a trade to help the team down the road. From what I've seen, Bard is not going to be part of the solution.