Dmitri Young shed a ton of weight as he tries to make a comeback at age 38, but he’s having trouble finding a team interested in signing him after last playing in the majors back in 2008.
Young worked out for the Pirates yesterday and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that “they were impressed by the slimmed-down first baseman,” but ultimately they decided not to make him a contract offer.
Last month Young worked out for the Phillies and also failed to receive an offer, so he might be running out of possible opportunities with spring training about to begin.
Young was generally said to be well-liked and never ceased being a productive hitter even when his health failed him, so you’d think some team would give him a chance to be Triple-A depth when there’s no risk involved. For now Young told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that he’ll “keep practicing and being ready.”
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.