Jon Lester was great on Opening Day, but the bullpen cost the Red Sox a win late in the game to the Detroit Tigers
As the Red Sox regular season is now underway following an Opening Day loss to the Detroit Tigers, it is not hard to debate the fact that the 2012 squad has several question marks in regards to some vital roles on the roster.
From the situation with the back end of the starting rotation as well as the quality of the bullpen, it is clearly visible that Bobby V has had some very difficult decisions to make upon his first season as the skipper.
Throughout the entire offseason, as well as spring training, many disagreements have spawned as a result of what role the likes of Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront would play this upcoming season. Questions arose as to who was going to be a starting pitcher as well as who truly deserved the final two spots in the starting rotation.
Many pitchers had quality outings this spring, but the end result was that Daniel Bard would get the final spot in the rotation, despite having the most struggles out of all the pitchers in the last few weeks. Bard had originally been the planned fifth-starter due to Ben Cherington's confidence in his capabilities, therefore he edged out Aaron Cook, Alfredo Aceves and others to seize that spot for the time being.
However, just as the rotation seemed fixed and ready, another issue began to arose.
New closer Andrew Bailey suffered an injury that will now keep him out of the equation for a presumed three-to-four months, which has now raised the question as to who will close for the Red Sox this season.
Alfredo Aceves is the answer in the eyes of Bobby Valentine.
As all of this has transpired, this analyst has done nothing but shake his head in disdain for some of the decisions on the Red Sox forefront thus far. Seemingly, Boston has created more problems than necessary.
While there is no question that the Valentine and Cherington administration is off to a rocky start, Bard's starting abilities is not something that really should have been considered while the closing role is wide open.
Who should be the fifth starter for the Red Sox
Why does a long-relief pitcher in Alfredo Aceves get the nod to close games, when Daniel Bard has more experience in late-game situations, and was the assumed "heir" to Jonathan Papelbon's throne for years now?
For the past two seasons, it was widely assumed that Bard would replace Papelbon upon his almost evident departure, so why not quickly adjust him to a role we know he is good at? Despite an unsettling September, Bard has been very efficient whenever given the opportunity to throw in such high-pressure situations.
While Bard can easily transition to the closer role, the Red Sox now have Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon to utilize whenever necessary in the bullpen. Instead of taking two risks in placing Bard as a starter and Aceves as a closer, wouldn't it be simpler to place them both in roles that they have proven to be top-notch at?
As for the rotation, Aaron Cook, Vincent Padilla and Michael Bowden all made strong bids during spring training to earn the final spot in the Red Sox rotation, so why not give them the opportunity?
Each one of those names may not seem glamorous, but they all did well and have more experience starting games than Daniel Bard or Alfredo Aceves do. The risk on one of the three mentioned can be just as rewarding as the reward they anticipate for Daniel Bard.
Either way, the issues for Red Sox pitching seem troublesome, but far from unsolvable. Letting Bard close, Aceves pitch long relief, and having Cook, Padilla or Bowden take the fifth spot in the rotation seems far more sensible than what they have now.
While it is unjust to call Daniel Bard or Aceves failures in their new roles this season, as they deserve a chance to prove doubters wrong, this experiment could cost Boston several wins down the road. The high risk will either provide a great reward or a great failure, so why not try and be safe for the beginning of the season?