In a move that presumably won’t keep them from pursuing further infield help between now and Sunday’s trade deadline, the Brewers have acquired Felipe Lopez from the Rays for cash considerations.
Lopez is a veteran of 11 seasons in the majors, but has spent most of this season playing at Triple-A Durham, where he batted .305 with seven homers and an .831 OPS in 44 games.
Milwaukee was said to be in the market for infield help even before Rickie Weeks’ ankle injury knocked him out for 3-6 weeks, so bringing in the 31-year-old, switch-hitting Lopez is probably just a low-cost stopgap solution while they continue to go after, say, Jamey Carroll of the Dodgers.
Lopez previously played for the Brewers in 2009, when he hit .320 in 66 games after coming over from the Diamondbacks in a trade for a pair of mid-level prospects. He’s hit just .230 in 145 games since.
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.