Mets lock up left-hander Tim Byrdak for 2012

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The Mets sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants in July, but they were surprisingly unwilling to deal any of their lesser free-agents-to-be, a group that included Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, Jason Isringhausen and Tim Byrdak.  Today they retained the least expensive member of that bunch for 2012, signing the 37-year-old Byrdak to a one-year extension.

Byrdak, who signed a minor league deal in January after being let go by the Astros two months earlier, has a 2.95 ERA in 68 appearances this season.  A true specialist, he’s thrown only 36 2/3 innings.  Lefties, though, have his just .202 against him, and he has a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings since June 1.

The value of the deal wasn’t announced, but it’s safe to say it’s somewhere in the $1.2 million-$1.5 million range.  Byrdak made $1.6 million last year with Houston, and he’s earned $900,000 with the Mets this season.

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.