Brewers call on Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay to handle first base; Juan Francisco the odd man out

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Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Brewers have decided to use Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay at first base, leaving Juan Francisco on the outside looking in. Francisco, who hit 18 home runs with a .719 OPS in 385 plate appearances last season, was beat out by two non-roster invitees. It wasn’t due to a poor spring performance — Francisco slashed .346/.500/.731 in 26 at-bats while Reynolds OPSed .830 and Overbay .393.

Manager Ron Roenicke cited the duo’s prior body of work as well as defense in the team’s decision to take them over Francisco.

“We’re going with two guys that their track record is what we’re looking at,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “We feel we have better defense that way. I’ve been frustrated a little bit with the way we’re playing our defense, as has Doug (Melvin).

“We really feel like we’re going to pitch well this season. And because of that, we feel like we need to play good defense. When they talk about your defense being strong up the middle, we think we should be.”

As a result of making the big league roster, Reynolds will earn $2 million and Overbay will earn $1.5 million. Both can earn additional money by hitting certain performance thresholds.

As for Francisco, his future remains unclear. Rosiak suggests he would be a good fit as a DH for an American League team.

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.