2013 Exit Interviews: Antonio Bastardo

Antonio is sorry and wants to kiss and make up. - Rich Schultz

Bastardo was quite good while he was allowed to pitch. Then he wasn't allowed to pitch anymore.

Antonio Bastardo at Baseball Reference

Antonio Bastardo at Fangraphs

Antonio Bastardo's 2013 season was decidedly a mixed bag of positives and, well, not positives. His on-field performance was essentially what we've come to expect from Bastardo, lots of strikeouts, a walk rate higher than ideal but nothing that his strikeout rate doesn't compensate for, weak contact induced, and overall a very good high-leverage late-inning option out of the pen. Unfortunately, whenever someone says, "This guy's on-field performance was...," it generally means there are off-field issues which we're forced to deal with. In Bastardo's case, that was the 50 game suspension levied against him due to his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. Also, this guy made a nasty hash tag about Antonio:

#ahole lotta sour grapes, I'm sensing. I feel for the guy not having a roster spot and all, but this is a fella who walked 91 guys while striking out 80 in 115.2 innings across 5 different levels of baseball from 2010 through 2012. He wasn't competing with Bastardo, he was competing with guys like Juan Perez, Scott Mathieson, and Mike Zagurski.

Getting back to Bastardo, I'm a positive and glass-half-full kind of guy so let us first focus on Bastardo's successes. Here is a table with numbers inside of it:

YR

Team

Age

G

IP

K%

BB%

GB%

FB%

AVG

BABIP

HR/FB

ERA

SIERA

xFIP

FIP

2011

Phillies

25

64

58.0

31.1%

11.6%

25.4%

58.7%

.141

.179

8.1%

2.64

2.93

3.56

3.30

2012

Phillies

26

65

52.0

36.2%

11.6%

27.7%

50.0%

.204

.306

12.5%

4.33

2.47

3.18

3.34

2013

Phillies

27

48

42.2

26.3%

11.7%

31.4%

50.5%

.210

.287

3.8%

2.32

3.56

4.09

3.00

Bastardo's strikeouts were down somewhat significantly this season, dropping from 36.2% of batters faced last season to 26.3% this, while his walk rate remained essentially unchanged. The contact made against Antonio was mostly weak. He was able to convert some line drives from last season into ground balls this year, while keeping his fly ball rate steady and vastly decreasing his HR rate. Most of that is just year-to-year variance, but this being the positive portion of the review there's no reason to ignore it. When the ball was put in play opponents hit .210/.314/.322, with a slight platoon split. His DIPS show some consistency, though all come in a bit above his actual ERA of 2.32. What a lucky season he enjoyed!

As for the reduced K-rate, it's not due to any decrease in velocity, as that is for all intents and purposes identical to his velocity in 2012. The only noticeable difference in the chart below is that he used his fastball less than he has in any previous season and his slider a bit more. The changeup stuff is inconsequential, as even if it's not just a classification mistake it's still thrown only once in every thirty pitches.

Season

FB%

SL%

CH%

XX%

2010

62.9% (93.5)

34.2% (83.1)

2.9% (86.0)

2011

61.3% (92.5)

34.2% (83.5)

4.5% (85.6)

0.6%

2012

63.0% (91.8)

36.5% (83.7)

0.4% (85.5)

1.3%

2013

58.9% (91.7)

37.8% (83.9)

3.3% (86.5)

0.6%

Then there was the other stuff, so I present the empty half of the glass: Bastardo was suspended for fifty games on August 5th for his involvement in the Biogenesis case. While his suspension came after the season was long lost for the Phillies, the rumors were that it caught the Phillies by surprise as Bastardo had not alerted them to his involvement until the final list of names was released in early August. Additionally, Bastardo suffered some sort of knee injury shortly after his suspension which was treated with a platelet-rich plasma injection.

I've read assorted twitter gossip and speculation by beat writers and bloggers intimating that the Phillies were upset by being blindsided by the Biogenesis-related suspension, and as a result his future with the Phillies may be uncertain.

Going forward, I think cutting ties with Bastardo would be a huge mistake, and fully expect Bastardo will be back with the club in 2014. The bullpen has been a glaring weakness on this team for two consecutive seasons now, and jettisoning one of their better, more reliable relievers because of his ties to a clinic that closed in 2012 would not help alleviate that problem. Going into next season the Phillies really don't know what they're going to get out of Jonathan Papelbon or Mike Adams, and outside of those two Bastardo is the only late-inning option who has had any sort of prolonged major league success. As he's still under team control (2nd year arbitration eligible), he's likely to be one of the best bullpen pieces available to the Phillies for 2014 on a performance per cost basis.

If they can forgive Frandsen, Ruiz, Galvis, and Delmon, for their various conduct violations I see no reason why Bastardo shouldn't be given the same latitude.

And now, a transcript of Bastardo's exit interview with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr:

RAJ: Was this season an unmitigated disaster? Yes. Did you contribute to that disaster? Yes. Tell me how you think you contributed to that.

Bastardo: This season was especially bad for the bullpen, and since I'm one of the better pitchers in that bullpen my absence probably didn't help things much. Though, in my defense, by the time I was suspended we were 11 games under .500 and 15.5 games behind the Braves.

RAJ: Could I have traded you midseason? Sure, I could have. I like to be creative. I didn't though. If I had traded you midseason, how do you think it would have affected the team?

Bastardo: I didn't really play much the second half, so I think things wouldn't be much different. Maybe you would have had a player to use instead of me, but there's not really a huge market for set-up guys. You could have gotten something, maybe a compettive balance pick or PTBNL or something, but probably nothing good enough to change the fortunes of the team.

RAJ: I have lots of options next year. We have to focus on improving the club. We'll be creative. If we can improve the ballclub, that's what we'll do.  That's the goal. What do you think I should do you with you?

Bastardo: Re-sign me to an extension, buying out my arbitration years and a couple free agency years. Ruben, you probably have more leverage over me right now, with two arbitration years remaining and me coming off of a banned-substance related suspension, than you will at any point going forward. I'll turn 29 next June so I've still got plenty of miles left in my arm, so maybe something like a 4-year, $10-12 million dollar deal would be good, no?

RAJ: Have I done a good job as GM? I've made some mistakes, yes. Nobody's perfect, you know? We try our best. But I like to think I do a good job. Why should I keep my job, Antonio?

Bastardo: Well, you brought me on board, and that was a pretty good idea because I strike out a lot of batters and don't walk too many, and for my career opponents have hit .202 against me. That's a feather in your cap, buddy. And you stood by all those players on your team when they've been in trouble, whether they beat up a person while yelling racial epithets, or just having been caught for using banned substances. Such loyalty is a good quality, so you should definitely stay around for at least another year, you know? I got your back, Rube, and if you want to go ahead and return that favor...

RAJ: Overall, explain to me how your time with the Philadelphia Phillies has been the highlight of your life.

Bastardo: You guys signed me as a 19-year old out of the Dominican Republic. I've been in the organization for nearly a third of my life, and over the last 5 years you've paid me more than three million dollars to throw a baseball for a living, although it drops back down under three million when you subtract the salary I forfeited over the second half of this season due to the aforementioned unpleasantness. That's better than a sharp stick in the eye, you know?

.

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