Joel Sherman on the chances of Cliff Lee going to the Mets:
Thus, if the Mets want Lee — and, boy, do they ever — a trade will have
to be built around Jenrry Mejia, whom Seattle likes, but does not love,
or Wilmer Flores, an 18-year-old infielder already thriving at High-A. In conversations with Mariner officials, I strongly sensed they would
accept no less than one blue-chip prospect or they will not do this
That throws water on the “F-Mart + Josh Thole will get it done” chatter I’ve seen from Mets fans around the interwebs.
Of course it’s worth noting that (a) I’ve only seen that chatter from the type of people who spend half the summer making up impossible trade scenarios that benefit their team; and (b) even though this post has to do with basketball, it’s worth keeping in mind every time you read trade rumor mongering like Sherman’s.
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.