New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine confirmed Sunday what many have suspected: Daniel Bard is going to be tried as a starter during spring training.
This via the Boston Globe‘s Michael Vega.
Bard was drafted as a starter out of the University of North Carolina in 2006 before being moved to the bullpen after a brutal debut season at Single-A in 2007. He’s open to being transitioned back, and the Red Sox are hopeful of catching lightning in a bottle.
Bard averaged 97.3 mph with his fastball in 2011. He’ll probably scale that back some, and begin implementing his curve and slider a bit more, but he has great ability and a decent chance to succeed.
If it doesn’t work out in spring camp, no harm done — they’ll simply move him back to his late-innings role.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?