And now for a wildly implausible Adrian Beltre rumor

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Hold your nose for this one:

Jayson Stark is reporting that “officials of two clubs monitoring Adrian Beltre’s negotiations” believe that Adrian Beltre could sign with the Oakland A’s quickly, possibly as soon as today.  Why the rush?  Well, there’s an offer out there, see, and the A’s have two other third baseman in Kevin Kouzamanoff and Edwin Encarnacion to whom they have to decide to tender contracts or not sometime today. That would make it plausible that the Beltre offer will expire today if he doesn’t take it.  Throw in some “Beltre prefers the west coast” stuff and voila you got a rumor.

I like me some Jayson Stark, but he needs to find a new set of rival executives to talk to. I mean, ask yourself:  on what planet does Scott Boras respond pliantly to a team basically saying “look, we have to decide whether or not to tender contracts to Kouzmanoff and Encarnacion by today, see, so you and your guy had best make up your minds by midnight, OK? You know my number.”  Especially when he doesn’t even have offers in hand from the Red Sox yet. If anything, an offer with that kind of thing hanging over it would probably cause Boras to hold out on it until March on general principle. He just doesn’t play that game.

And if Beltre did sign under such circumstances? Without the Red Sox getting in on the game yet? Well, then, one wonders why Boras is his agent anyway. You hire Boras to drive the bus, not to be driven by Billy Beane and not so you can get a geographically-based deal of convenience.

Maybe I’m just crazy here, and if I am, and Beltre signs with the A’s in the next couple of days I’ll dedicate an apology post to Stark and his rival execs.  I just don’t think I’ll have to, ya know?

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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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.