The Yankees are expected to attempt to re-sign starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda this offseason and should have ample funds to get the contract done.
But they’re going to have some competition.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in this week’s Sunday notes column that Kuroda “may be the most sought-after pitcher in terms of number of teams interested” because he only wants a one-year deal so that he can return to his native Japan after the 2013 season if he so desires. Cafardo says the deep-pocketed Dodgers “would love to have him back” and that the Red Sox “have a shot” because other Japanese pitchers have enjoyed the city of Boston.
Kuroda, 37, posted a 3.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 167/51 K/BB ratio in 219 2/3 innings this season for New York. He has a 3.42 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 918-plus total frames since arriving state-side in 2008.
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.