Cole Hamels’ Hamels’ contract expires after 2011, with an added year of arbitration eligibility for 2012. I suspect that some people are going to get antsy about that soon, wondering if grabbing Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt is going to cost the Phillies the chance to lock up the one pitcher of that crowd who might still be pitching at a high level seven or eight years from now. But Hamels and his agent John Boggs aren’t worried about it:
“My philosophy has always been the best position to take is one of concentrating on completing the existing contract with the club,” Boggs said. “Concentrate on the job at hand. If the Phillies determine they would like to talk to us about something, sure, we’d be all ears.”
I’d be surprised if something doesn’t get done with Hamels next winter. The Phillies aren’t idiots. I’m guessing that people will still wring their hands about it though. Personally, I’m kind of glad that they haven’t given him a contract extension yet. Not because I want to see him leave Philly — I’d never wish that a team’s star bolt — but because I don’t think we’re all prepared for another week’s worth of stories about the awesomeness of Philly’s rotation at the moment.
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.