There's not much to gripe about with the Red Sox right now. So instead of forcing five downers from August, let's consider the sad saga of Daniel Bard, and the cruel irony that he is exactly what the Red Sox need right now.
Not the current version of Daniel Bard, of course. This Daniel Bard is a scatter-armed, confused shell of the pitcher who was one of the finest late-inning relievers in the majors from 2009-11, and his designation for assignment this week, so unthinkable just two years ago, has felt like a sad inevitability for awhile now.
No, what they could use, in a bullpen that has dealt with an overabundance of attrition and didn't get any help by the August 31 deadline, is someone just like what Bard was at his best. Consider the 2010 version: a 1.93 ERA, 45 hits in 74.2 innings, 76 strikeouts, and a 1.004 WHIP. The next season, his ERA rose more than a run (3.33), but most of his other numbers mirrored his '10 season, and his WHIP actually dropped to 0.96. Imagine that guy setting up Koji Uehara. It's be ideal.
That feels like such a long time ago now. It goes without saying that the Red Sox made a huge mistake in converting him to a starter -- and messing with his mechanics in the process -- in spring 2012. It's all gone wrong since then. His velocity, which he depends upon because of so-so secondary stuff, has never come back, and his control is frighteningly scatter-shot. In 15.1 innings at three minor-league levels this season, he walked 27 and threw 11 wild pitches.
I'm not sure if his troubles began last spring or during the final month of the 2011 season -- he was brutal that September, with a 10.64 ERA and nine walks over 11 innings in 11 appearances.
But this much we do know: His time with the Red Sox is apparently over. Wish we could say the same for his troubles on the mound.
PREVIOUS 2013 POWER RANKINGS
April: Buchholz, Entire Cast of Veteran Newcomers, Farrell, Nava, Ortiz.
May: Pedroia, Buchholz, Saltalamacchia, Breslow, Bogaerts.
June: Iglesias, Lackey, Ortiz, Uehara, De La Rosa
July: Cherington, Gomes/Napoli, Doubront, Uehara, Pedroia.
Follow Chad Finn on Twitter at @GlobeChadFinn
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.