Originally posted on Ted's Army  |  Last updated 11/13/11

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But with Papelbon agreeing to a new, rich deal with the Phillies on Friday, the scrutiny on Bard next spring will be intense. Even though the Red Sox likely will try to bring in another closer via a trade or free agency to fill Papelbon’s spot, the weight of the evidence still points to Bard being the closer of the future.

How soon the future arrives still is a matter of speculation, even within the Red Sox organization.

“We certainly think Bard can close, but aren’t committing to him in that role yet,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington wrote in an email last week. “As the free agent and trade markets develop we will identify what we believe is the best value pitching.”

What that means is that the 2012 season will be critical in discovering what Bard is and what he is not.

Herald: Bard remains big unknown

That was a excerpt from a novel written by Herald's Michael Silverman. From that quote by Ben Cherington, it is obvious the Red Sox are looking for a replacement because of some uncertainty in Bard. They will be willing to go with him if all else fails, but they want to do some shopping first.

Shortly after that was published Scott Lauber of the Herald published a similar article but added a few extra quotes that will lead us to believe the Sox will definitely have Bard in that closer role next season.

Within a few days, Jonathan Papelbon will don a red-pinstriped jersey and introduce himself to Philadelphia, renewing questions about why the Red Sox never made a higher priority of re-signing him.

The answer: Daniel Bard.

As much as anything, the decision not to make a contract offer to Papelbon was an expression of the Red Sox’ confidence in Bard, the closer-in-waiting who may not have to wait much longer before the ninth inning belongs to him.

[...]

“Daniel is one of the most prepared and conscientious guys that we have in that clubhouse,” Cherington said. “He’s proven he’s an elite major league pitcher. I think he would embrace more responsibility, and he’s ready for more responsibility.”...

Herald: Sox fall on Bard times

So how do the Sox feel about him? If the Sox didn't want to spend the big bucks for Papelbon, then why would they do it somewhere else? He was the best available free agent and there are none better than him and Rivera. It makes perfect sense to stay with Bard, even with his shaky September. He is young with a great arm, has shown he can close is different situations, and is won't demand $15 million a year.

Sure the Sox will look elsewhere before they make their final decision, but it looks like they have a bit more confidence in Daniel Bard than we do.

The rest of the links:

Globe: Lamont is last to interview with Sox | Herald: Lamont talks good game | ESPN: Cherington's decision on manager looms | WEEI: Theo Esptein and Brian Cashman finally find middle ground...in Vermont

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