Statistically speaking, most bunts don’t make tactical sense. Especially first inning bunts when you have no idea if the game is gonna be tough for scoring runs and the like. Really, on page 1 of the Sabermetric Handbook it says “Don’t Bunt in The First Inning You Moron!” At least I’m pretty sure it does.
But Ned Yost loves bunting like a fat kid loves cake and he and the Royals have been bunting to beat the band this postseason, and it has worked for them almost every time. It just worked for them again in the first inning of today’s ALCS Game 4.
Alcides Escobar reached on a single and than Nori Aoki was hit by a pitch. Runners on first and second, no outs — IN THE FIRST INNING — and Ned Yost calls on his number three hitter, Lorenzo Cain to bunt. In the first inning. Number three hitter, mind you. In the first inning, if I didn’t mention that. Cain bunts and the runners move up to second and third. In the first inning.
So of course, the next guy up, Eric Hosmer, hits into fielder’s choice to first. First baseman Steve Pearce decides to go home with it, the play is botched by Caleb Joseph and Escobar scores. As Escobar slides he kicks the ball away, allowing Aoki to come around and score too. The Royals take a 2-0 lead.
That bunt makes every baseball tactician not named Ned Yost cry blood. Yet neither of those two runs score if Ned Yost doesn’t call for that bunt. We may cry and wail about it. We may rent our garments and plead, beg and demand that Ned Yost stop bunting, especially in the first dang inning.
But Ned will look down and whisper: “No.”
So Jeremy Guthrie wore that shirt that, in about the mildest terms possible, dissed the Orioles. And then he apologized for it on Twitter. Which, apparently, wasn’t enough, because then he went and apologized for it in a press conference today.
Give me a break. Since when are we requiring apologies for slights so small they barely qualify on the slight radar?
As it is, here’s a study in contrasts in the reaction to all of this. Pick your sides. This:
When there’s black smoke, the Braves general manager situation is unresolved. When there’s white smoke, we have a new Braves GM. Right now, more black smoke:
Braves president John Schuerholz read a Yahoo Sports report that said interim general manager John Hart has turned down the Braves’ offer to take the job full-time, prompting the team to focus on assistant GM John Coppolella and Royals GM Dayton Moore as its primary targets for the position.
“At best the article was not accurate with either the facts or the assumptions,” Schuerholz said in an email to the AJC on Wednesday in response to a question about the report, which cited unnamed sources.
That report was from Jeff Passan at Yahoo. Passan added in a tweet later that former Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd was also in the running for the job.
I love Jeff, and I think he’s a great reporter, but the Braves fan in me hopes he’s wrong about the O’Dowd thing, just as much as I hope he’s right about the Hart thing.
Bring me John Coppolella and a front office that is not run based on the collective memory of 1991-2003, please.
The Orioles have been talking to — or at least trying to talk to — Nelson Cruz about a long term deal. That hasn’t borne fruit yet, so now a little pressure: Jon Heyman reports that the Orioles plan to make a qualifying offer to Cruz.
The qualifying offer this year is $15.3 million, and if he is given such an offer, anyone who signs Cruz would owe the O’s a pick. Last year Cruz had a hard time finding work, partially because he was tainted with the Biogenesis stuff, partially because had a qualifying offer attached to him. He ended up signing with the O’s for a bargain basement $8 million.
The question now is whether anyone would be willing to offer him any sort of deal that would pay him $15.3 million+ in 2015 if it means having to give up a draft pick for him. Yes, he had a big year — 40 homers and a .525 slugging percentage — but it was also only the second season in his career where he played as many as 130 games, it was by far his most productive year and it came at age 34.
A lot of people gambled wrong on Nelson Cruz last winter. But would you gamble on that happening again, in a season in which he’ll turn 35? And would you gamble twice as much plus a draft pick that it’ll happen?
David Eckstein is an odd case. People forget this, but when he was a prospect he was much-loved by the stat-boy set. And throughout his career, he got on base at a healthy clip. It was his playoff exploits that gained him the reputation as a “scrappy” guy — way more the fault of broadcasters and the media than anything he did himself — then people turned on him because, well, I was never really clear on that. I’m pretty sure he was merely a pawn in media/analysis pissing match.
But Eckstein was a fine player. He just didn’t have much power in a power-happy era and no one in the sabermetric world gave credit for durability and defense like they should have back then. It happened a lot back then and it resulted in people heaping hate on Eckstein.
Good thing he’s a good sport about it. Like here, via the MLB Fan Cave, where Eckstein reads some of the hate that was thrown on him by the baseball blogosphere over the years.
*Craig checks to make sure nothing he wrote about Eckstein made the list; sees none did; exhales*