Adam Wainwright has missed the entire season following Tommy John elbow surgery and will enter 2012 as a major question mark, which put the Cardinals in a tough position regarding his 2012 and 2013 options.
As part of Wainwright’s contract the Cardinals must decide by the end of this season whether to exercise both future options at a total cost of $21 million, but yesterday general manager John Mozeliak told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that they’ve already decided to pick up the options.
Mozeliak explained that the team is pleased with Wainwright’s rehab status so far and even if he ends up missing part of 2012 or needs half the season to work himself back into form $21 million for two years is certainly well below market value for an elite starter.
Wainwright insists that he’ll be 100 percent health by spring training and hinted that he might have been a postseason possibility for the Cardinals if they hadn’t fallen out of contention, but when it comes to Tommy John surgery and the 12-18 month recovery timetable there’s never a sure thing. St. Louis is taking a $21 million risk, but a healthy Wainwright is so good that it certainly makes sense.
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.