I agree, but maybe Cook (5th starter) winds up blowing. Maybe Buchholz's old mechanics and injury issue keep him from being average/above average let alone a part of a "big 3". Maybe Beckett isn't studly and is going to be up and down. Etc.
Lots of things need to fall into place. Lots of things needed to fall into place prior to the season started and now even more are out of line.
I think people were overly optimistic before the season and those that think Bard to the pen is wise remain so.
Look to 2013. Hope for the best with 2012. Bard in the rotation long term is a big plus for the organization. 2012 depends on way way more than the closer. A spot that has a solution lined up in another month+. Maybe it works out. If it does, then great. Bard becomes a September/October asset for the pen after he caps out. If it doesn't, then he can get his first year in the books and look to take steps forward next year when the team can get itself reorganized (hopefully).
Edit -- This is not to say blow it up or give up on the season. I just don't think Bard in the pen right now is the difference between the 90-92+ wins it'll take to get to the playoffs and whatever course they're on now.
A lot of things need to fall into place, no doubt. But at the same time, things likely won't need to play out as rosy as many seemingly believed they would, or would have to, for us to at least get the opportunity to make some noise this fall.
Since the league went to a 3 division format in 1993, there has not been a single instance where an AL team that won at least 90 games would of found themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in under a 2 WC team format. Well, assuming one counts the 1 game tiebreaker the 2002 Red Sox would of played against the Mariners to decide that final slot. So if one happens to view 90 wins as being the new 95, we won't necessarily need another mid-summer tear of .687 ball for this thing to come together either. If my quick math is right, .580 ball the rest of the way gets us where we need to be.
This team may not be of the ideal variety many would like it to be, and i'm certainly not going to dispute the existence of the warts/flaws, but i still see that potential grind as being very doable. With where Bard finishes in the grander scheme of that equation (or more specifically, and as you basically hit on in your previous post, that
he finishes) being more important then where he starts, imo.