Mike Matheny calls for questionable bunt in seventh inning

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With the game still knotted at two apiece, the Cardinals started off on the right foot leading off the bottom of the seventh against Dodgers starter Zack Greinke. Yadier Molina, who hit .319 during the regular season, led off with a single to left field.

Molina, as you are likely well aware of, is not very fleet of foot, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny ordered Jon Jay to attempt to bunt Molina to second base. Instead, Jay bunted back to Greinke, who fired to second for the force out at second. It was questionable because Molina’s lack of speed makes it so Jay has to lay down a great bunt for the idea to be executed properly. Then, even if the bunt is successful, Molina isn’t fast enough to score from second base on most singles.

Bunting decisions get lambasted probably more than is warranted, but this is certainly one instance where it is deserved. It’s true that successfully bunting Molina moves a runner into scoring position while removing the double play possibility, but outs are a precious limited resource and they shouldn’t be burned simply because your lead-off base runner is slow.

White Sox sign Ervin Santana to minors deal

Ervin Santana
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Free agent right-hander Ervin Santana picked up a minor league deal with the White Sox, according to various reports Friday. Per Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com, Santana will make $4.33 million if he manages to crack the major-league roster this spring. Any official confirmation from the team is still dependent on the results of a physical.

The veteran righty hasn’t seen any action in MLB for some time. He was laid low by prolonged discomfort in his right middle finger last spring, and underwent a capsular release/debridement procedure that kept him off the mound for all but 24 2/3 innings of his 2018 campaign with the Twins. When healthy, however, he’s been as durable and productive as they come. Santana earned his second career All-Star distinction in 2017 and pitched to a 16-8 record in 33 starts with three shutouts, a 3.28 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 7.1 SO/9, and 2.9 fWAR through 211 1/3 innings.

Barring further complications with his pitching hand, the 36-year-old should be a stabilizing force for the White Sox’ rotation in 2019 — assuming he can beat out southpaw Manny Bañuelos and right-handers Jordan Stephens and Dylan Covey for a back-end role, that is. According to FanGraphs, the club’s starters ranked worst in the league in 2018 with a collective 5.07 ERA, 5.18 FIP, and 3.1 fWAR.