Is Daniel Bard a Good Scrap Heap Pickup?
May 22, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Daniel Bard (51) pitches in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Today the Boston Red Sox designated Daniel Bard for assignment. Many of you may remember Bard as a fireballing late inning reliever who was fairly successful coming out of the pen for the Sox back in 2011, or as Jamie Campbell was so apt to call him, a “tall drink of water.”
Then in 2012 during the hopelessly amusing Bobby Valentine experiment Boston tried to convert Bard into a starter and since then he’s taken a Ricky Romeroesque fall from grace. Plagued by injuries and an inability to find the strike zone at any level of the minors Bard fell so far that he was the odd man out when the Sox decided to add Quentin Berry to their 40 man roster. Bard has given up 27 walks in only 15 1/3 innings in the minors this season, so clearly he’s a bit of a fixer
With Bard designated for assignment the Jays would have a chance to claim the pitcher on waivers, and might even have a good shot at getting him from their home in the depths of the standings.
There are obvious red flags involved with Bard, you don’t go from setup man and heir apparent to Jonathan Paplebon without having a fair share of issues. Bard has given up 27 walks in only 15 1/3 innings in the minors this season, so clearly he’s a bit of a fixer upper, but the chance to get a 28 year old who still has an option year remaining and has shown the capability to perform at the big league level should not be taken lightly. Even the Jays own Edwin Encarnacion, now one of the mainstay’s of the Blue Jays batting order, was himself designated for assignment and was able to find new life in his bat since.
Also the Jays are no strangers to players coming to life with a change of scenery. With Aaron Hill and too a lesser extent Kelly Johnson as two recent examples of players who had more left in the tank than the Blue Jays were able to extract it would be nice to be on the other end of one of these transactions.
Rays pitcher Fernando Rodney shows what new scenery/coaching can do for a player Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
I personally would hope that a change of scenery possibly coupled with some weighted ball magic might just do the trick for Bard. In a perfect world it would be similar to the Rays picking up Fernando Rodney for the 2012 season. Rodney was coming off an ugly campaign with the Angels in which his walking more batters per nine innings 7.88, than he was striking out 7.31. The next year, after being sprinkled with whatever magic dust Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon have at their disposal in Tampa, Rodney got his K/9 up too 9.16 and meanwhile saw his BB/9 drop to a meager 1.81.
Now Rodney’s season with the Angels was nowhere near as disastrous as Bard’s current stint in the minors, however bard is still only four seasons removed fro his rookie year where he broke in with an 11.49 K/9 and continued to strike out better than a batter per inning while he was in the bullpen. Bard seems like he could be a bizarro Brandon Morrow situation. Morrow kept getting put in the bullpen even though he should have been a starter, and Bard clearly excels in the pen and should not be anywhere near a starting rotation.
If they Jays are able to snag a player with Bard’s potential for free then they should jump on the opportunity. And if they’re able to snag an asset like that from the Massholes that would make it that much sweeter.