The Chicago Cubs claimed Daniel Bard on Wednesday after he was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox. Bard was once a dominant relief pitcher before the Red Sox tried him out as a starter. He struggled mightily in the starting role and even after making a return to the bullpen, he has never been able to regain his dominant form.
Is Bard damaged goods, or will this change of scenery be just what he needed?
I have wondered if the Cubs would take a shot on Bard for awhile now. It makes sense; Cubs president Theo Epstein drafted Bard in the first round of the 2006 Draft when he was the GM for the Red Sox. Bard then dominated the minor leagues before making his major league debut in 2009. Bard was a solid bullpen piece for the Red Sox down the stretch in 2009 and earned a spot on the 2010 opening day roster.
Bard was simply dominant for the Red Sox in 2010 as he had 76 strikeouts in 74.2 innings pitched and a 1.93 ERA. Bard had another solid season in 2011, before Boston decided to make him a starter entering the 2012 season. Bard started 10 games for the Red Sox in 2012 and went 4-6 with a 5.30 ERA.
Bard has been back in the bullpen ever since he started those 10 games, but the results have been ugly. He struggles with command, and the strikeouts have been trending downwards for a while now. The Red Sox saw Bard as a lost cause and had him pitching in the lowest levels of the minor leagues. It was obviously time for them to move on.
The Cubs have nothing to lose with this move. It is unknown whether we will see Bard this season, but obviously Epstein and company still believe that the talent is still there somewhere. He will get an opportunity, whether it be in game action or in side sessions, to prove to the Cubs that he still has it. Bard now joins a long list of Cubs pitchers that will be fighting for spots in the 2014 bullpen.
I think the change of scenery will help Bard. He was with an organization that did not seem to believe in him anymore. The Cubs will give him a chance to compete because there’s no harm in doing it. You never know — if Bard can find his command, he could become the pitcher that he once was.
I am not betting on it, but I like his chances much better in Chicago than in Boston.