The Wilson Ramos kidnappers were a bunch of amateurs

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FC alerts us to an English language version of a story from Venezuela which reports that the guys who kidnapped Wilson Ramos were a bunch of amateurs.  Like, literally amateurs. As FC notes, the more expansive Spanish language version of the report notes that only two of the six kidnappers had criminal records.

They were also amateurs in execution of the plot. They didn’t wear masks, allowing composite sketches to be made. A car was found, helping authorities ID the suspects. The time of day of the kidnapping meant that there were lots of witnesses.  Master criminals they were not.

You know, as soon as the Ramos kidnapping was reported, a lot of people were tweeting and emailing me “Big Lebowski” quotes.  That kind of thing was obviously in poor taste because Ramos was in real peril so I wasn’t about to give them voice around here.  But now that he’s back safe and these guys were caught, I’m starting to think that, however inappropriate those comments were, they weren’t necessarily wrong.

Effin’ amateurs.

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.