Friday, October 16, 2009
DANIEL BARD IS READY, BUT ARE THE SOX READY FOR HIM TO CLOSE?
The season ended with a Jonathan Papelbon blown save. The Sox have a young fireballing reliever named Daniel Bard. Some have suggested trading Papelbon and passing the closer's role to Bard. But why?
Daniel Bard clearly has the stuff to be a quality closer. If you can get 3 outs in the 8th, you can get them in the 9th. Does he have the mental makeup for the job? Well the only way to find out is to have him pitch the 9th. There's no amount of "mentoring" or "tutelage" that can help him. If he's got it, he's got it. Another year under Papelbon, or a year under Billy Wagner won't change this.
But the Sox have an opportunity to considerably shorten their games by having Papelbon close and Bard set-up. Furthermore, Papelbon has an innings limit, so Bard can spot-close when Papelbon's worked 2 games in a row.
It's clear that Bard is the future closer of the Sox, or at least that's clearly the plan. But unless the Sox can get A LOT in return for Papelbon, there's no point to getting rid of him, at least not now.
So keep Papelbon (unless he's part of a deal to get Felix Hernandez, in which case he's somewhat expendable), have Bard set him up, and you've got an excellent bullpen.