Daniel Bard Needs to Remain in Relief to Solidify Bullpen, Red Sox Should Not Rush Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnway

Daniel Bard Needs to Remain in Relief to Solidify Bullpen, Red Sox Should Not Rush Will Middlebrooks, Ryan LavarnwayThe Red Sox appear to be turning the tide, as a few solid outings in Minnesota has eased some of the tensions building around Boston.

The acquisition of Marlon Byrd has appeared to help the Red Sox defensively, although his offensive skills remain a mystery. David Ortiz's abilities at the plate aren't anything to question at this point, as Big Papi is hitting at a career-best rate.

Meanwhile, the pitching staff is still in transition. Daniel Bard's potential return to the bullpen has raised some questions, and the thought of calling up Aaron Cook from Triple-A Pawtucket before his May 1 opt-out deadline has been floated around the old Red Sox water cooler.

With so many questions surrounding the state of Red Sox nation, NESN's Don Orsillo took a stab at providing some answers.

How is Marlon Byrd going to improve the Red Sox?
– Rodriguez Pedro

Tough to tell. He has really been in a horrible slump to start the season. I think the Red Sox are hoping that  a change of venue will get him going. Remember, he may still have lasting effects from his facial injuries from last year, when Alfredo Aceves hit him in the face. I am not sure of the real need for an additional outfielder.  He is well traveled and could add depth. I am more concerned about filling out the pen ASAP.

With the Red Sox bullpen being a total bust so far this season, will there be moves made to get some good relief pitching to bridge the gap to their closer?
– Jd Varnell

Where is the issue? This is a common problem. Middle relief is really hard to figure out and obtain. There is no consistency year to year from middle relievers on the whole. If you are a good pitcher you are either a starter, a set up eighth-inning guy, or a closer, and then there is the rest. Tampa Bay has made an art of restructuring its pen year to year and it works, but most of the time you bring a bunch to spring training and hope a few step up. To obtain middle relievers is very difficult and few teams are willing to give one up.

The Sox need to move Daniel Bard back to the bullpen and call up Aaron Cook. They need to solidify the bullpen. Why are the Sox waiting to make that move?
–Jason Edwards

I am on board with this thought. Have been for awhile. I think this move to the pen, while they are saying it is temporary because of the rain out, could be more of a permanent solution to the problem. Aaron Cook has had very good numbers for Pawtucket and appears to be ready. They also have the May 1 date hanging over their heads to bring him up. He looked pretty good the few times we saw him during the spring. He is finally healthy and the results have been positive.

When will the Red Sox bring up Ryan Lavarnway and Will Middlebrooks?
– Dave Ferreira

I think when they feel Ryan Lavarnway has reached a certain level defensively catching, they will call him up. He has proven he can hit major league pitching. The question about him remains his defensive development exclusively. I think he will be on this team, but maybe more of a mid-season addition. Will Middlebrooks development continues as well. I think baseball operations likes guys to sort of graduate from each level, and it is early despite his success already. I think if Kevin Youkilis were to get injured and end up on the DL, then you may see him.

Is Jacoby Ellsbury going to be 100 percent when he returns or do you think we could see a repeat of 2010?
– Mike Perry

Hard to say. This is a major injury that requires much time for rest, and then at the end of the rest you really see how strong the area is. It may heal well and he can rehab or it may require surgery and more rest. Very unpredictable based on what I have read and heard from physicians. I will say he has had some bad luck. These injuries have all been just wrong place, wrong time scenarios. First Adrian Beltre and now Reid Brignac.

How does one join the Dontourage?
– Kathy Wilson

Not sure I have a great answer for that. First I would say that you have to like me and be nice to me. Although, that may not be enough. Jerry [Remy] informed me that most entourages have to be paid. So as a result, sadly, I may need to keep the numbers down. Thanks for asking, though.

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