Every few days you see another article like this about Daniel Bard in the Boston media:
There’s little doubt that with his potential, Bard could conceivably be a big-league closer right away. He has an overpowering fastball that regularly hits 98 or 99 on the gun, and his fast-developing slider has become a solid secondary pitch. With that arsenal alone, he could be a lights-out guy in the ninth inning . . . Bard deserves a shot at the big time. He’s a 45-save season waiting to happen.
Like the others I’ve seen, this article plays it passive and doesn’t explicitly demand that the Sox trade Jonathan Papelbon. But it’s apparent that the “oh, whatever shall we do with the bullpen logjam occasioned by the presence of the increasingly expensive and suddenly unreliable Papelbon” talk is really lobbying for just that very thing.
Should Boston trade Papelbon? I think the answer to that question lies with Billy Wagner. Bard could crash and burn in his first taste of the closer’s role, and it would be awfully nice to have someone else around to help ease the transition. If Wagner is serious about wanting to retire, convince him to hang around one last year and play John Wetteland to Bard’s Mariano Rivera. If he demands multiple years, give him two — assuming they’re not outrageous — and transition Bard from setup guy to closer between next year and mid-2011.
The key here is that by trading Papelbon, you have his almost certain-to-be-disrupting presence out of the way as you anoint Bard the future closer. And you get something for him in return. Seems worth exploring to me.