Should the Tigers shop Max Scherzer?

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Today Ken Rosenthal plays matchmaker and puts the Nats and Tigers together on a possible Max Scherzer deal.

To be clear: it’s not a rumor or even a news nugget. It’s really just a “what-if/could be.” But (a) Rosenthal is up front about that; and (b) he isn’t one to be silly and irresponsible, so it’s not like it isn’t at least plausible. More to the point, though, it brings up a legitimate subject: what should the Tigers do with Max Scherzer, who hits free agency after the 2014 season.

If I’m the Tigers: I put him in my rotation for 2014 and enjoy 30+ wonderful starts from him, all the while working quietly on an extension. That’s because if I’m the Tigers I still make a lot of dough even with my high payroll, what with a full park every day and an infusion of new national TV money.

But Mike Ilitch (and his heirs) may not wish to have that payroll spiral ever-higher. Because, after all, you have all kinds of obligations and not necessarily a ton of flexibility. And if you’re going to look for some savings, forging an extension to Scherzer may be the easiest place to do it. You still have Verlander and Sanchez on long term deals. You have Drew Smyly ready to make the leap to the rotation. You have Miguel Cabrera, whose contract ends in 2015, and if he’s still killing baseballs through next year, you’re gonna want to extend him.

The Tigers aren’t the Rays, so they don’t have some obvious imperative to trade an ace nearing their walk year. But they should — and probably are — at least considering it.

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.