|2012 Dodgers Player Profiles|
|This continues our series of 2012 player profiles, where we will analyze one player per day, between now and the end of spring training. This is also the spot for our community projections, so be sure to give us your predictions for each player for this season in the comments section.
Josh Bard was originally a third-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in the 1999 draft. Twelve and one-half years and five organizations (Cleveland, Boston, San Diego, Washington, Seattle) later, the switch-hitting catcher finds himself with a minor league contract at age 34 (almost, his birthday is March 30) with the Los Angeles Dodgers, vying for a major-league job, but behind A.J. Ellis and Matt Treanor on the backstop depth chart.
As a batter, Bard's career breaks into two neat categories, his 20s and his 30s:
|Josh Bard, Batting by Age|
|24 - 29||1270||.275||.341||.415||.756||103|
|30 - 33
Age? The pitchers found his weakness and he never adjusted? Injuries (in his age-30 season he missed 67 games with ankle and tricep problems)? Whatever the cause, his offensive production has tailed off precipitously over the last four seasons.
Being a switch-hitter may have enhanced his career opportunities a bit, but Bard's splits unfortunately show him to be a better right-handed batter:
|Josh Bard, Batting by Handedness|
|vs RHP as LHB||1431||.245||.315||.363||.678|
|vs LHP as RHB||539||.277||.330||.430||.760|
Too bad, reverse those splits, and he becomes a more interesting backup complement to a right-hand hitting starting catcher like Ellis.
Last season was a challenge for Bard. During the offseason he was involved (as a passenger) in a fatal automobile accident that claimed the life of his "long-time friend". (His own injuries were minor.) Then he didn't make the Seattle Mariners roster out of Spring Training and began the year with their AAA affiliate. He only made it back to the majors after Seattle suffered injuries to three catchers, including two in one game in May.
As a catcher, the general reports on Bard is that he is a good receiver of pitchers, but not particularly adept at dealing with base runners.
Bard had one of the best views of the famous "4+1 game" where the Dodgers hit four consecutive home runs leading off the ninth inning to tie the game, and a two-run home run in the tenth inning to win, because he was the Padre backstop from the seventh inning on that night in Dodger Stadium. He also drove in the Padres go-ahead run in the tenth, with a single off Aaron Sele.
Last season Bard had a foul tip become lodged in his face mask (video). In case you were wondering, had there been two strikes on the batter, I believe that would not be ruled a strikeout, but merely a foul ball.
Bard signed a minor-league contract with the Dodgers in December, with an invitation to Spring Training. Bard will earn a reported $750,000 if he makes the team, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Previous Dodgers Player Profiles:
|2012 Projections - Age 34 Season|
|(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)|
If either Ellis or Treanor flail in the first couple months of the season, it is possible that Bard would be the first player promoted from the minors to try his hand at catching in LA. That probably depends on the development of Tim Fedorowicz, who is likely to be sharing backstop duties in Albuquerque with Bard to begin 2012. Also, if a minor injury were to fell one of the first two Dodger catchers, it is possible that management would prefer Bard in a short-term major-league assignment rather than have Fed-Ex ride the pine in the Show. Either scenario would require finding room for Bard on the 40-man roster, of which he is not currently a member.
I'll guess that Bard makes a short appearance at Chavez Ravine-on-Avon (obligatory Shakespearen reference) and collects 2 singles and no walks in 11 plate appearances. (That's .182/.182/.182).
What is your prediction for Josh Bard in 2012? Be sure to guess BA/OBP/SLG, and anything else you wish to guess.
Thanks to baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com for the statistics.