After Multiple Failed Comeback Attempts, Daniel Bard Finally Calls It A Career

This is a sad but expected story — per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, Daniel Bard has finally called it quits after multiple failed comeback attempts, unsuccessfully making it back to the big leagues since he last appeared on April 27, 2013. Let’s play a game. Can you name all of the organizations that took a chance on Bard since he made his last major league appearance with the Red Sox? The Cubs, Rangers, the Cubs again, Pirates, Cardinals and Mets.

Yep, Bard was with the Mets. Signed as a free agent last June, made one appearance for their rookie ball affiliate, pitched two thirds of an inning, faced eight batters, walked five of them, hit two of them, threw three wild pitches, and gave up four earned runs without allowing a single hit. That, of course, was because he couldn’t locate a pitch anywhere remotely close to the strike zone, as had been commonplace for him at the end of his major league career, which then followed him throughout the remainder of his comeback attempts in the minors.

Many point to Bard converting to a starting pitcher from a reliever as the reason for his unforeseen downfall. That happened in 2012, and while it’s easy to blame it on Bobby Valentine, because he fucked up everything else that year, it’s important to remember that Bard wanted to start. That was on him. This is from a Boston Globe article from December of 2011:

The Red Sox are warming to the idea of turning accomplished setup man Daniel Bard into a starting pitcher, a plan that gained traction when the righthander told manager Bobby Valentine yesterday that would be his preference. Bard has long voiced that hope. But now the Sox are listening, given the holes in their rotation and the lack of palatable options on the free agent market.

Bard himself doesn’t blame becoming a starting pitcher entirely, but acknowledges that it contributed.

“I don’t think it was the move to starting alone that did it,” Bard said. “That’s just kind of the way it happened with the people who were involved, maybe. I think most of the people involved had good intentions.”

I can’t find the quote anywhere now, but I remember blogging it back in 2012 that the reason why Bard preferred to start was because starters made more money. (UPDATE: It’s a broken WEEI link, but you can see the headline where Bard talks about starters’ money). So, while it sucks that Bard’s career ultimately came to an end over this choice, let’s not forget that this was Bard’s choice and not somebody else’s and also that it was money-driven so it’s hard to feel that bad about it. Also, sick call by GBOB on that one.

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With his career going out the way that it did, it’s easy to forget how fucking good Bard was as a reliever. As Boston’s setup man in 2010 and 2011, among the 103 relievers with at least 100 appearances, Bard was 11th in the majors over that two-year span in strikeouts (150) and tied for ninth in WHIP (0.98). He was supposed to be the heir to Jonathan Papelbon’s throne as Boston’s closer when Papelbon left via free agency following the 2011 season, but things changed and so did the course of Bard’s career forever.