Lost in the speculation about how long Daniel Bard’s demotion to Triple-A will last is the fact that the Red Sox right-hander wanted nothing to do with being sent to the minors.
Bard is scheduled to make his Pawtucket debut tonight, so he spoke to the local media and made it clear to Mike Scandura of the Boston Globe that he wasn’t on board with the decision:
It’s not my decision. I’m just an employee here. Obviously, I’m not thrilled with it. If it was me making the decision it might have been different. But I tried to be respectful about it. Once I get the anger and disappointment out of the way you just have to try to make the best out of the situation.
Bard then went on to question the changes he was asked to make moving from the bullpen to the rotation, saying “we probably did a little too much” with his mechanics and “it just wasn’t the same as it used to be.”
As a reliever Bard had a 2.87 ERA, .190 oppponents’ batting average, and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 193 appearances. As a starter he had a 5.30 ERA, .261 opponents’ batting average, and 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings in 10 outings, all while losing 4-5 miles per hour on his fastball.
He forced the Red Sox’s hand a bit by performing so poorly in the rotation, but it sounds like Bard is among the many people questioning how the entire situation was handled. For now the Red Sox have insisted that he remains in the rotation plans whenever he returns from the minors, but something will clearly have to change (or change back) for Bard to find success there.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: