Anonymous GM: players can’t handle a 162 game season

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Jayson Stark spoke with a major league general manager — we don’t know which one — who had a couple of interesting things to say about the length of the season and player stamina and all of that.  The upshot: the GM thinks the season is too long, players can’t handle it, and it needs to be shortened.

What’s more, he cites teams’ use of the disabled list as evidence of this.  Check it out:

“The season’s too long. Guys can’t handle it. In fact, you’d be amazed how many of these DLs are just teams covering for guys who can’t handle it. This isn’t just about guys not being able to handle it physically. Guys can’t handle it mentally. They need mental breaks to regroup.”

The GM goes on to recommend a number of changes to the schedule, including lopping off games, mandatory off days each week and stuff like that in order to keep players fresh.  Stark suggests that the fact that players don’t take greenies anymore has something to do with all of this.

I have no idea what kind of toll being a professional athlete takes on one’s body and one’s mind.  But if this is as bad as the GM makes it out to be, I would think before you go proposing that the schedule be shortened — which will never happen due to the financial impact — you’d consider proposing a couple extra roster spots so as to give managers the ability to give guys a day off once in a while.  This would be especially important for position players who, once upon a time, had more backups on the team but don’t anymore because people have decided that they need 13 guys on the pitching staff.

File this all under “interesting, but what the hell can you really do about it, practically speaking?”

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.