Monday, December 29, 2008

Catching Problems? Bring in Josh Bard, Of Course!

Imagine you're the Red Sox (fun, right?). You have, as Robin pointed out in strongly-worded commentary bordering on hysteria, no catchers on your 25 man roster: your captain is on the market awaiting a multi-year offer that may never come and your backup - who, I should note, is one of the few catchers out there with the ability to catch the knuckleball pitcher who you still have on staff - hit the bricks for the shelter of your rivals because you made the odd decision to non-tender after his best (if admittedly not superb) season yet. What do you do?

Try and sign Josh Bard, apparently. You know, the guy the Sox sent to San Diego two seasons ago to get back Mirabelli because they realized not everyone can catch Wakefield. Um, duh? To Theo's credit, he's since admited that trade was a mistake, and given how that season turned out - and the lingering questions about the team's construction - who can blame him, but I'm starting to wonder where the strategy is in all of this mess. First, the Sox fail to come to an agreement with Varitek, which wasn't much of a surprise: things are very different in the personal and professional lives of Jason Varitek, and he wasn't going to give the Sox the same satisfaction of an easy deal like he did four years ago. Then, the aforementioned non-tender for Cash, the resultant lack of catchers...and Boston's decision to try and sign Bard, who has bad ankles and a checkered past in Boston that automatically rules out his playing one every five with Wakefield, all while insisting that they're still going after Varitek. Anyone else confused?

I could see Boston's using a Bard signing as an opportunity for both catchers to compete for the starting position - trading away the loser at the earliest opportunity - but that would only make sense if Varitek had agreed to play in a Red Sox uniform next year. Even then, unless Bard has some sort of resurgence, it's not like either catcher is particularly attractive trade bait, and if Bard performs well, why would Boston want to get rid of him except to fill a hole they should have already plugged by the start of the season? I feel like the Sox are trying to buy insurance for a car they may or may not own in the next four months, but maybe I'm missing something?