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Bard Gets Deja Vu, Four Years On

Pity poor Josh Bard. The man never did anything to hurt Red Sox nation, but he keeps getting burned by Boston nonetheless.

For the second time in four years, the backup catcher was sent packing from the Red Sox, this time even less honorably than the first time: He was released on Wednesday, with the team deciding longtime prospect George Kottaras was a better option to be Jason Varitek's backup.

The last time he was in Boston, Bard proved completely incapable of catching knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, eventually necessitating a trade with the Padres to bring back Doug Mirabelli. Of course, Bard went on to hit well above his expected averages in San Diego while Mirabelli scuffled (except behind the plate, where he was always Wakefield's personal catcher of choice).

Bard came back to the Red Sox in the offseason after Boston's incumbent backup/knuckleball specialist, Kevin Cash, signed a deal with the Yankees. This stint with the Red Sox is proving even more brief because of the emergence of Kottaras, who was finally out of minor league options. The Red Sox clearly decided they didn't want to lose Kottaras for nothing, and there still seemed to be some concern about Bard's ability to catch a knuckleball, all of which makes one wonder why they re-signed Bard in the first place.

It's a strange story, but is it the first? Can anyone else remember a player who was traded away from a team, signed by the team a few years later and then cut while still in his prime (Bard is only 30)? There's got to be a few good ones out there.

By Cameron Smith  |  March 19, 2009; 2:21 PM ET
Categories:  Red Sox  
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Sometimes these veteran release mercy killings are really to the benefit of the releasee. Bard should be able to get an MLB job, although probably at a big pay cut. His contract was never guaranteed, and knew he was always only insurance in case V-Tek did not resign, no trade, and the AAA catchers looked poor. None of those contignecies happened. meanwhile, he got a chance to play some this Spring, hit .460, and reestablish his value.

This is quite different from the Shawn Hill hit job. The Hill whacking was a "kick'em when he's down" take out that I and Boz have suggested might have had a revenge element to it (don't dare beat us at arbitration, no matter how good your stuff is). Hill has no hope of an MLB contract, although he was apparently pitching much better than last year's camp according to Boone and other observers and was feeling well, finally. But there will be a happy ending for him. Some smart team (I'm betting the Red Sox) will sign him to a 2 way contract, have a real medical staff work with him, and give him a chance to build up in AAA.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 20, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

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