David Wright took the high road in response to Fred Wilpon’s comments in The New Yorker. Now Carlos Beltran’s agent — the inimitable Scott Boras — offers a somewhat more pointed, but still far from angry response:
“These statements are not indicative of the Fred Wilpon I know … If you’re a member of a team or an organization and respect one another, any evaluation or internal opinion of players currently on the team should stay there. If you want success and optimal performance, it’s best to keep those in-house.”
He went on to say that he’s always had a good relationship with the Wilpons and notes that if Beltran has a specific response to the comments he’s certainly welcome to make them. My guess would be, however, that Beltran is well-advised by his agent and won’t say anything crazy.
In other words, help us Jose Reyes! You’re our only hope to turn this argle bargle into a full-blown foofaraw!
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.