Tomorrow afternoon is the deadline for the Rockies to work out a trade for Wandy Rodriguez after claiming him off waivers, but Astros general manager Ed Wade told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that he doesn’t expect a deal to happen:
I can’t make predictions. I don’t predict what could happen, but my gut tells me at this point there’s no reason to believe that Wandy will be pitching anywhere than wherever we’re playing in five days, which is Houston.
Breaking news: Ed Wade physically unable to make predictions. Or something.
Anyway, there was some speculation earlier this week that the Astros might simply let any team claiming Rodriguez have the 32-year-old southpaw and his remaining contract, but instead Wade is reportedly holding out for a significant return in addition to salary relief.
In the meantime Rodriguez is starting against the Rockies today, in Colorado, which is a weird situation to say the least. And he coughed up four runs in the first inning.
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.