Roy Oswalt is expected to make his long-awaited decision today and finally sign with a team, but in the meantime we know one place where he won’t be going: St. Louis.
General manager John Mozeliak appeared on AM-590 in St. Louis this morning and said: “Roy Oswalt is not going to be a Cardinal.”
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote a short time earlier that a friend of Oswalt “would not be surprised” if the veteran starter chose the Cardinals, but apparently that’s no longer an option.
That would seemingly leave the Rangers and Red Sox as favorites, although this morning Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that “people who know” say “it is not the Rangers or Red Sox for Oswalt.” Heyman even put ‘NOT” in all caps.
Time for another big offseason acquisition by Mystery Team, perhaps?
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.