While the Phillies final 50 games of 2013 were virtually meaningless, Antonio Bastardo was barred from appearing in the games (and didn’t get paid), after the MLB came down on him and 12 others for their roles in the Biogenisis scandal.
Bastardo spoke to the media for the first time since his suspension this morning at Spring Training, as he attempts to revive a once-promising career.
Antonio Bastardo, back after 50 game PED suspension, says “I made a mistake.”
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) February 13, 2014
While it simple for us everyday folk to laugh at the idea of Bastardo calling this “a mistake”, when we would never get a second chance if we made this type of mistake at our workplace, we were all quick to accept Carlos Ruiz back last year when he was suspended for PED’s. Granted, Ruiz was only suspended 25 games for adderall last season, while Bastardo was suspended for doing something presumably a little harder (HGH?); but to condemn him and still worship Ruiz over a 25 game difference seems like splitting hairs.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale passed along that had he appealed his suspension and lost his appeal, Bastardo could have been suspended for 100 games.
Bastardo is latest player to return from Biogenesis suspension to say he faced a 100 game ban and not 50 if he had appealed. #Phillies
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 13, 2014
Beyond that, we still don’t know much more about the exact terms of why Bastardo would have been suspended 100 games for what for HGH, which is normally a 50 game suspension under the MLB’s joint drug agreement. Frankly anyone speculating looks like a fool at this point, because given the witchunt that the MLB put on against Alex Rodriguez, and how they made up their own rules in giving him a two-year suspension, I’m not sure there were actual grounds to suspend Bastardo 100 games.
I am by no means saying that I am a fan of Bastardo (or A-Rod or PED use for that matter), because I’m not. I’m not even saying that you need to be a fan of Bastardo. But fans rooting again at him coming back from a PED suspension, when they were the same ones giving Carlos Ruiz a standing ovation in his first game back in Philadelphia last year, are hypocrites. They both cheated, just to slightly different degrees.
If you step away from that aspect of Bastardo’s return, this does appear to be a make-or-break season for the 28 year-old lefty. After a breakout season in the bullpen in 2011, where he posted a 2.64 ERA in 64 appearances, Bastardo slipped to a 4.33 ERA in 2012. That dip for a reliever who jumped from 18 innings to 58 innings in 2012, was to be expected. A rebound season in 2013 happened statistically (he posted a 2.32 ERA), but his statistics didn’t seem to tell the whole story, as he still allowed a good amount of inherited runners to score, which a statistic like ERA doesn’t necessarily tell you.
Bastardo agreed to a one-year deal worth $2 million (with incentives) earlier this off-season, which helped him avoid arbitration. This will be his fifth full big-league season, which means he has one season left of arbitration. The Phillies will likely have the luxury of having two lefties in the bullpen, with both him and Jake Diekman. Diekman followed up mediocre rookie campaign in 2012, by posting a solid 2.58 ERA last year in 45 games. Should Diekman follow up that a breakout year like that with another solid season out of the bullpen, and Bastardo follows up a PED suspension with a sub-par season, Bastardo could become a non-tender candidate next off-season.
The hope of the fanbase however, should be that Bastardo and Diekman are both at their top-forms in 2014. Diekman could then slide into a lefty specialist role, and Bastardo can be the seventh inning setup man, and get the ball to Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon. And if Adams isn’t able to stay healthy, then the Phillies certainly will need Bastardo, and a guy like Justin De Fratus, to step up to solidify the seventh and eighth innings.