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Craig Counsell: “I don’t think bunting is the way to score a lot of runs.”


Brewers manager Craig Counsell received criticism after Sunday’s 2-1 walk-off loss to the Rays. The Brewers had runners on first and second and no outs, but Counsell chose not to have Manny Pina lay down a sacrifice bunt. Pina grounded into a double play, and then Keon Broxton grounded out to end a zero-run inning.

Counsell didn’t back down from his decision to let Pina swing away. Per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Counsell said, “There are places to try something different and there are places to be consistent. Overall, if we’re trying to score runs, I don’t think bunting is the way to score a lot of runs.”

Counsell elaborated. “First of all, the bunt is not a guaranteed success. You put on a bunt sign, and it’s not 100% guaranteed success. People say, ‘He’s a big-league player, so he should be able to bunt.’ I don’t think that’s a fair thing to say, and it’s just not true. I can’t make a decision on something that’s not true. The players who are coming up next factor into the decision. The player up at bat factors in the decision. The thing we were mad about yesterday was the result. Manny hit a ball very hard. … He just hit the ball really hard at somebody. I understand one run is far more impactful late in the game. But we still have to put people in position to succeed. In that situation, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”

He’s right. Playing for one run is to play for a tie; playing for two or more runs is to play for a win. Furthermore, according to Baseball Prospectus, the runs expected from having runners on first and second with no outs is 1.48. With runners on second and third and one out, it’s 1.37. It doesn’t seem like much, but if one often chooses to bunt in these situations, the lost runs add up over time.

Fans also tend to remember bad outcomes over good outcomes. So, they vividly remember when Counsell chose not to bunt and it backfired, but they don’t remember when Counsell had his batter swing away and it led to a three-run inning.

Report: A’s trying to finish deal for Jeurys Familia

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The Athletics appear to be closing in on a deal for Mets’ right-hander Jeurys Familia, according to reports from ESPN’s Buster Olney. Nothing has been finalized just yet, however, as the Mets confirmed that they would not be announcing a trade tonight and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic points out that other teams may still be in the mix for Familia’s services. It’s not clear what the A’s would be giving up in any potential deal for the reliever.

Familia, 28, has been pitching well this season. He currently sports a 2.88 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and 9.5 SO/9 through 40 2/3 innings — across-the-board improvements from his last run with the Mets in 2017 — and has racked up 17 saves to boot. He’s due another $3 million for the remainder of 2018, and Rosenthal adds that the club is willing to throw some cash in the deal in order to guarantee a better return for the closer.

While the A’s have one of the better bullpens in the American League, sitting seventh-best with a 3.50 ERA and 2.8 fWAR, they still have a ways to go in order to overtake the Mariners and Astros for a postseason berth by season’s end. Familia’s contract expires at the end of the year, but he should provide enough short-term value to give the A’s the boost they need.