Red Sox

Ex-Red Sox Daniel Bard has a shot to make Rockies, complete amazing comeback

Ex-Red Sox Daniel Bard has a shot to make Rockies, complete amazing comeback

When last we saw Daniel Bard, he was walking two batters on nine pitches in April of 2013 against the Astros. That was his last big league appearance, and though it was enough to earn him a World Series ring, for a long time it looked like it would be his disheartening swan song.

But seven years later, Bard hasn't given up on his dream, and at age 35, he is making a case to the do the improbable.

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On Monday, Bard retired all three batters he faced at Coors Field as part of an intrasquad scrimmage with the Rockies, prompting this observation from Nick Groke of the Athletic: "Bard looks good. Rockies are very pleased. Seems to be pitching his way to opening day."

If he makes it, it would be the ultimate triumph of perseverance. Bard's story is well-known to Red Sox fans, but a brief recap: He reached the majors in 2009 as a flame-throwing setup man, and he looked like Jonathan Papelbon's successor after posting a 1.93 ERA in 73 appearances as a setup man in 2010.

He threw 100 mph, he showed no fear in big situations, and it appeared he'd be a fixture for at least five or six years.

He went 2-9 and was disturbingly ineffective down the stretch in 2011, but no one noticed because the team was collapsing around him. Then came the disastrous decision to move to the starting rotation under Bobby Valentine in 2012. Bard developed the yips and couldn't find the plate, his nadir coming on June 3 in Toronto when he walked six, hit two, and sent multiple pitches to the backstop.

That started an odyssey through the minors that included an ERA of 175.50 at Single A with the Rangers in 2014 (0.2 IP, 13 R, 0 H, 9 BB, 7 HBP), a year off for surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, and failed minor league stints with the Cardinals and Mets.

He once again struggled to find the plate at spring training in February and March with the Rockies, allowing seven runs in 2.1 innings while walking three, but manager Bud Black has been impressed with the way the ball has left his hand, which means there's a chance he makes the opening day roster and completes a comeback seven years in the making.

Mookie Betts is dominating with Dodgers, but trading him remains the right call

Mookie Betts is dominating with Dodgers, but trading him remains the right call

There are many reasons to rip the Red Sox, whom I described as a maggoty dumpster fire as recently as Friday.

Trading Mookie Betts isn't one of them.

The former and probably future MVP made history with the Dodgers on Thursday night, delivering the sixth three-homer game of his career and his first outside of Baltimore. (That's a joke, but man, did he murder the Orioles).

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With the Red Sox slip-sliding their way to oblivion, the juxtaposition of Betts' monster night with their own demoralizing 17-8 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was hard to miss, but easy to mischaracterize.

In the short term, oh my God, what a horrific deal. Betts is going to win a World Series and the Red Sox are going down the toilet like a leg-twitching beetle. But in the long-term, the franchise will be better served by moving on from its homegrown star, because Betts' window of dominance did not remotely fit Boston's window of contention. 

Perhaps it's just my small-c fiscal conservatism talking, but I am philosophically opposed to 12-year contracts, no matter how talented the player. You're buying more decline years than prime ones, especially in an era when fewer and fewer players maintain production into their 30s, let alone players of Betts' profile.

Five-tool star Grady Sizemore saw his ascension halted at 25. Former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen delivered his last monster season at 28 and his last really good one at 30. Ask the Yankees how they feel about paying Jacoby Ellsbury.

Betts is a generational talent, but he's only 5-foot-9. As we noted over the winter, players that size simply aren't built to last, and if that sounds like some cold-blooded actuary bleep, so be it.

Since 1947, only seven players 5-foot-9 or shorter have compiled a career WAR of 50 or higher (compared to 125 for those 5-foot-10 or taller). Two were catchers (Yogi Berra, Pudge Rodriguez), one was a defensive whiz who couldn't hit a lick (Luis Aparicio), and you tell me what to make of the other four.

Hall of Famer Joe Morgan remained an elite player until age 32, when he won his second MVP Award. He hit .254 over the final eight years of his career. Fellow Hall of Famer Tim Raines made his final All-Star team at 27 and topped 3.5 WAR just twice after age 30. We are already intimately familiar with the career trajectory of Dustin Pedroia.

That leaves Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, a 5-foot-8 bowling ball who remained a force through his age-35 season before a tragic eye injury ended his career.

Betts is a unique athlete, so maybe he'll break that mold, but I don't blame the Red Sox for deciding not to take the risk. Were they stacked with the kind of talent that could contend right now, and blessed with a deep farm system to augment some of their higher salaries, then I would've made a case for retaining Betts anyway to capitalize on the 27-year-old's prime.

But let's be realistic about this window. There's a reason John Henry and Co. replaced the win-now Dave Dombrowski with the win-someday Chaim Bloom. They saw the team for what it was, married to bad contracts like the oft-injured Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Sale.

They were lucky to get out from under half of David Price's remaining bloat, but now they face the prospect of retooling pretty much every position except catcher (Christian Vazquez), third base (Rafael Devers), shortstop (Xander Bogaerts) and right field (Alex Verdugo). Do I even need to ask what difference Betts would've made on this train wreck?

Assuming Sale returns from Tommy John and Eduardo Rodriguez beats myocarditis, the Red Sox still are woefully inadequate in the pitching department, and after years of being strip-mined by Dombrowski, the once-prized farm system is beginning a long road back to viability.

Trading Betts makes clear their path forward. It provides the financial flexibility to attack multiple deficiencies, because no team boasts a limitless budget, not even Boston. Paying Betts $35 million annually to begin declining just as the Red Sox climbing back into contention would be bad business.

In the meantime, hammer away. Crushing the Red Sox is its own cathartic sport (I've got my varsity letter), and there will undoubtedly be more nights when the Red Sox fall on their face while Betts soars 3,000 miles away.

That doesn't change the calculus that made him a bad long-term investment for Boston, which is why I firmly believe we will eventually look back at his departure as the right call.

Ex-Red Sox star Mookie Betts has three-home run game for Dodgers

Ex-Red Sox star Mookie Betts has three-home run game for Dodgers

On the same night that the Boston Red Sox fell 17-8 to the Tampa Bay Rays and saw their losing streak extended to four games, their ex-star outfielder Mookie Betts made history with his new team.

Betts was simply on another level for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, crushing not one...

Not two...

But three home runs vs. the San Diego Padres to tie the MLB record for the most three-home run games ever (six).


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The 2018 American League MVP is still doing MVP things, much to the chagrin of Red Sox fans. It certainly doesn't help matters that it's been a disastrous 2020 campaign for Boston, which fell to 6-13 on the season after Thursday's loss.

For a look back at Betts' five 3-home run games with the Red Sox, you can take a trip down memory lane here.