Given the setting, the results from Saturday afternoon’s New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox game in which ten doubles were hit and 24 runs were scored were hardly surprising. What was unexpected was the enormity of the Boston bullpen’s melt down.
Alfredo Aceves, Matt Albers and Vicente Padilla faced a combined fourteen batters, but got only a single member of the opposition out, allowing eleven earned runs in the process. Without knowing any better, one might misinterpret the pitchers’ actions as an attempted remake of a particularly awful movie from the 1970s.
Get it? Melt down … melting man? Anyway, the only thing more forced than that joke was Bobby Valentine’s hand when it came to the roulette wheel of relievers on which he had to depend.
As the Red Sox manager made one of his six pitching changes, the crowd turned on him with the vengeance of a mob, prompting the inventor of the wrap to tip his cap in acknowledgment of their audible wrath.
And now that yesterday night’s match up was postponed due to rain, it leaves the Boston skipper with an interesting dilemma. You see, reliever turned starter Daniel Bard was scheduled to start last evening and his turn in the rotation will now be skipped until Friday at the earliest, and it’s expected that in the meantime, he’ll be available out of the ‘pen.
Surprisingly, you could make an argument that Bard, along with Saturday’s starter Felix Doubront, has been one of the team’s two best starting pitchers. However, with Minor League contract signee Aaron Cook available in Triple A (and Daisuke Matsuzaka – remember him – starting his rehab assignment), there will be something more than a little bit of temptation for the Red Sox to make Bard’s transfer to the bullpen more permanent.
Would that be a smart move? Mmm. Probably not. We haven’t seen enough of Bard as a starter to know how much better he is as a reliever, but in addition to the expected improvement in his numbers out of the bullpen, the innings that he pitches in a ninth inning role would have to be of massively increased importance, in terms of leverage, in order to justify a switch.
Even with Cook and Matsuzaka as potential replacements in the rotation, the value differential likely isn’t enough to justify such a move, assuming that Bard is a better bet in the rotation than either of those two pitchers.
What’s hindering the smart decision to keep Bard in the rotation is the idea that a bullpen should have set roles. This quote from Valentine likely lends more credence to the idea of Bard going back to a reliever than it intends.
I think what all teams want and all players want is defined situations in the bullpen. We’re trying to establish that. I think players are trying to establish their roles. We don’t have the luxury of past performance to designate these roles, so we’re working on it.
The easy solution to improving the depth of the Boston bullpen is to use Cook or Matsuzaka, when he’s available, as a reliever. However, because Bard has experience in the role, he’s seen as the only candidate to provide high leverage relief, likely as the team’s closer. If you don’t think of the bullpen in terms of roles, putting the next best pitcher available in a relief role is such an obvious answer.
Personally, I didn’t think that Bard had the repertoire or endurance to be a starter. His first couple starts look to have proven me wrong. From that perspective, I’d suggest that Bard remain where he is in the rotation until he proves that he’s of less value there than whatever the Red Sox have as additional options.
And The Rest
I spent most of Saturday falling into something of a baseball coma, seemingly committed to getting my money’s worth of an MLB.tv subscription in one day. I came out of it after the final game ended on Saturday evening feeling both a strange urge to shop at Lowe’s, and a little bit like these two kids:
The Texas Rangers are hawt. They showed a rather astounding ability against the Detroit Tigers over the weekend to win games with both pitching and hitting (and sometimes the help of the umpires). [Baseball Time In Arlington]
Some are even going so far as to suggest that the team has “the sweet look of greatness.” [ESPN Sweet Spot Blog]
Saturday’s San Francisco Giants and New York Mets matinee had one of the strangest final full inning of baseball that I’ve ever witnessed, thanks in large part to Aubrey Huff being called on to play second base. [Getting Blanked]
Today in kind of cool. [Twitter]
ELIAS:PIT hasn’t allowed more or scored more than 5 runs in any game to start year. Third-longest such streak;’65 PIT (16)and ’43 DET (17) .
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 23, 2012
Today in OriLOLes: What’s going on with Dontrelle Willis? [MASN Sports]
There seems to be an agreement that a team’s April record isn’t the most important, even if the methods for finding these results are rather different. [Beyond The Box Score, Bill James Online, Harvard Sports Analysis]
Perfect games in baseball are an imperfect measure of excellence. [The Economist]
Given the lack of starting pitching on the New York Yankees, as well as Michael Pineda’s ongoing struggle to get healthy, signing Andy Pettitte seems a whole lot more important now than it did at the time. [River Avenue Blues]
Where, oh where has K-Rod’s change up disappeared to? [Disciples of Uecker]
Francisco Liriano to the bullpen? Really? [TwinCities.com]
Early season numbers go under the microscope. [Baseball Nation]
Finally, an amazing piece of baseball visual and audio ephemera for you. [Baseball Prospectus]