Jorge Posada will turn 39 this season and has battled a multitude of injuries the past few season, but he’s not even considering retirement at this point.
“I am going to make it tough, that’s the way I was brought up,” Posada told the New York Post on Saturday. “I don’t want to go away. i am having fun and enjoy playing. To tell you the truth, they are going to really have to rip [the uniform] off me”
The Yankees boast a crop of talented, young catchers like Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and 20-year-old Jesus Montero, but the club will have no problem finding a spot for the 38-year-old Posada for at least the next two seasons. Why? Because he’s a switch-hitter and is still making noise at the plate. Posada batted .285/.363/.522 with 22 home runs and 81 RBI last season over 383 at-bats and heads into 2010 as the Yanks’ primary starter. HIP! HIP! … anyone?
The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.
The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.
In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.
Most of the time anyway.
Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:
One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.
The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.