Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was not pleased with Daniel Bard's outing against the Toronto Blue Jays last week. He cited the fact Bard threw just the one change-up as problematic, and felt he wasn't as efficient as he could be. This led to wondering if the Daniel Bard: Starting Pitcher experiment was over before it had ever really started, as well as whether or not a rift had opened up between Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington about how to deploy certain Red Sox resources like Bard.
Bobby V doesn't strike me as reactionary in his actions, just in his words. He'll speak his mind if you give him the opportunity, and that's just what he did after Bard's start. Bard had his own reasons for not throwing the change-up just yet, though, and in Sunday's outing against the Jays, he threw 10 of them, as well as a two-seam fastball. This pleased the Bobby Valentine:
"Overall, I liked everything," Valentine said. "Had some tough breaks. Worked his way out of jams. Threw all of his pitches today. His change-up, at times, was devastating. Slider was sharp at times."
Bard gave up five runs, but the Red Sox can't just be focused on the score in the small frame of time that spring training gives them for evaluating. Bard's transition was never going to be finished entirely by the first time his spot in the rotation would come up -- it's a season-long project that will take time to fully grow, and how he looks out there, how he reacts, learns, and attacks is what matters the most right now.
Valentine liked what he saw from Bard -- especially seeing so many change-ups a week after saying it needed to be thrown -- and given we're now even further out from the rumors that Bard had already lost the rotation race, maybe we're back to where we were, thinking he's locked in for a spot. We'll see soon enough, but either way, as Valentine put it, "it's not like we're going to be searching for (starters)."
Valentine also had some choice words when it came to rumors of the aforementioned rift between he and the front office:
I'm not sure, but I don't think Valentine liked it very much.
Rob Bradford took a look at what's happened in spring training to see if there were any statistical reasons to believe there's a rift. Since Valentine's playing time for the likes of Mike Aviles line up with the front office's plans for Jose Iglesias, it's hard to say there's anything going on between the two camps that isn't normal. As Brendan O'Toole pointed out Sunday, the Braves front office and manager are disagreeing about who the shortstop should be, too, and no one is turning that into a fight for the soul of Boston.
The Red Sox won't be getting John Lannan from the Nationals anytime soon. Washington had many reasons to deal Lannan -- he cost $5 million, they had a full rotation already -- but even more reasons not to do so unless they were blown away. More specifically, with Stephen Strasburg's innings limited and Chien-Ming Wang having the health of Chien-Ming Wang, Lannan was going to be needed later, if not sooner.
Sooner is now, as Johnson announced Lannan as the fifth starter in the first of what could be many instances of Wang missing time in 2012. This effectively removes him from the trade block he might not have been on in the first place, but given Aaron Cook and Felix Doubront's strong showings as of late, Lannan might not have been needed anyway. Especially at a price short of free.
Remember when Jonathan Papelbon said Phillies fans are smarter than you? Papelbon claimed that, because the NL doesn't use the designated hitter and has to double-switch, the fans know more about the game. Ergo, Philly fans are more knowledgeable than Red Sox fans. Well, Papelbon wants to clear up his comments:
"Obviously I wasn't try to offend nobody," Papelbon said. "I was just calling a spade a spade. I've been in the bullpen down there many a time in Boston to know this guy doesn't have a clue what he's talking about, and it happens in Philadelphia, too. I was simply saying because the American League is different than the National League there's a little bit more thought process that goes along with that."
Someone take the mic away from him before he hurts himself.
"I was just making a statement. ... I was just making a statement of National League vs. the American League. I can't remember us bunting three times."
Seeing bunts does make you smarter. Assuming you realize that bunting isn't a great idea after seeing one, I mean.