Three Thoughts On The Pirates:
- Bastardo has got to go
If I hit the Lotto, my first act of charity would to be give whatever is left of Antonio Bastardo’s $6.25-million salary to the Pirates with instructions to release him.
OK, it might not seem like a very charitable move to give money to billionaire owner Bob Nutting, who doesn’t spend enough of what he already has. However, it would do all Pirates’ fans — as well as the media who cover the team — a tremendous service.
Nothing personal against Bastardo, who is a decent enough guy and was once a solid major-league reliever with the Philadelphia Phillies.
However, the 31-year-old can’t get anyone out anymore, allowing 11 runs in in 5 1/3 innings in his first five appearances this season. Worse yet, it takes him forever in doing so as the game comes to a halt once Bastardo enters.
He stands on the mound before every pitch looking in to the catcher for the sign just like any other pitcher. Yet he then continues to stand there. And stand there. And stand there. And stand there.
It is as if Bastardo is on a one-man mission to torpedo Commissioner Rob Manfred’s plans of improving the pace of play in Major League Baseball games. His act is so infuriating that it takes every ounce of self-control to keep from breaking professional press box decorum and yell “THROW THE BALL!”
An illustration of how poorly Bastardo has been pitching came in Saturday’s 12-5 loss to the New York Yankees at PNC Park.
The last of five Pirates pitchers, he allowed two runs in and 1 1/3 innings. One of the runs came on a 457-foot home run by right fielder Aaron Judge.
Yet Bastardo’s ERA went down, dropping to 18.56 from 20.75.
We can all only wish that his time between pitches would also start dropping.
- Defense is offensive
The Pirates’ fielding has been abysmal through the first three weeks of the season.
The Pirates have allowed 15 unearned runs, the most in the major leagues, in just 17 games. Meanwhile, the Pirates’ 16 errors are the second-most in the majors behind the Oakland Athletics’ 17 and their .681 defensive efficiency rating — which measures the number of balls put in play turned into outs — ranks 22nd among the 30 teams.
The latest defensive gaffe played a big role in the Pirates’ loss Saturday.
With the game tied at 5-5 in the top of the eighth with two outs and no one on base, second baseman Adam Frazier’s fielding error on Austin Romine’s ground ball kept the inning alive. Two batters later, Chris Carter belted a three-run home run off Felipe Rivero to put the Yankees ahead.
The Yankees tacked on two more runs in the inning to increase their lead to 10-5 after center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who was trying to avoid colliding with left fielder Gregory Polanco, misplayed Jacoby Ellsbury’s fly ball for a three-base error.
“I think our overall defense has got to tighten up,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “The problematic play tonight was at second base. The inning Rivero’s up there, that’s three outs. We’re off the field. It didn’t happen.”
The decision to trade Neil Walker to the New York Mets following the 2015 season rather than sign him to a contract extension continues to look like the wrong move.
- Please pipe down
The young woman who serves as the in-game entertainment host when the great Joe Klimchak fills in for public address announcer Tim DeBacco is very enthusiastic. To channel President Donald Trump, I am sure she is also a very wonderful person.
Nevertheless, her constant shouting is very annoying and it would be great if someone would advise her to turn the volume down a few hundred decibels.
Not nearly as great as Bastardo getting released but almost.