Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
News that John Farrell is excited about Daniel Bard after watching the righthander throw in Mississippi over the weekend could indicate that there will be a lot of depth in the Red Sox bullpen.
Farrell emphasized that Bard is throwing with “power” again and that he’s back to his “normal” arm slot. If these positive things carry over to the pitching mound, the Red Sox could have one of the best bullpens in baseball.
As it stands, the Red Sox have Joel Hanrahan as their closer, with Andrew Bailey and Junichi Tazawa in set-up roles, plus lefties Franklin Morales,Andrew Miller, and Craig Breslow. In addition to Bard, the Sox have added veteran righty Koji Uehara while holding on to Alfredo Aceves. They also have Clayton Mortensen for long relief and Alex Wilson, who spent last season in Pawtucket.
Out of this group, Miller, Tazawa, Aceves, and Mortensen are all potential starters, should there be injuries to the front five of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, and Ryan Dempster.
As some point, the Sox may also add lefty Rich Hill to the mix.
Globe: Bullpen is looking deep
If Sox fans are trying to convince themselves about this team being a dark horse contender, they need to look at this bullpen. It is the deepest bullpen the Sox have had in quite some time on paper Of course, there are still some questions to be answered. Like can Joel Hanrahan be dominant in the AL East? Will Andrew Bailey have a bounce-back season? Is Daniel Bard able to re-join the big league club? Despite some of these questions, there's cause to be giddy.
A good example is Koji Uehara, the former Oriole & Ranger who is a control freak. He's allowed 17 walks in the past three seasons (145 IP) and his WHIP in that time same stretch is a lovely 0.772. He's replacing Vicente Padilla who walked 15 last season but his WHIP was a 1.480. Uehara will be great for the 7th inning and is plenty capable of actually holding a lead, something that Padilla struggled to do for the second half of the season.
Another reason is our other Japanese reliever, Junichi Tazawa, who blossomed like a pretty flower that was surrounded by a pile of crap. When he was finally given a chance to pitch in August, he ran with it as he had a 1.67 ERA in the second half of the season, including a dazzling 0.74 ERA & a 0.316 WHIP in 14 September games. It's a small sample size but that's what is lunging him into the set-up tandem with Bailey and it is having me very excited for what he can do this season.
Now if we can add both Daniel Bard & Rich Hill, who always pitched well but just couldn't stay healthy, this bullpen is more than capable of holding leads and gutting out one-run games.
Rest of the Links: Herald: Daniel Bard in a better state of mind | WEEI:Which Red Sox player might be getting qualifying offers next time around | ESPNBoston: Details of Napoli's incentives