The Bunt

21 Jul

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Seriously? Bunting. In that situation? Believe me, I get what Joe Mauer was thinking, and he is a very good bunter. No question about that. But at that time in the game, the late innings, you want and need your #3 hitter to attempt to drive in the go-ahead run. I say “Attempt” because we don’t know what would have happened. He very easily could have grounded into a double play. He could have drawn a walk. He could have popped up. He could have homered. Who knows?

And I do get the theory in Mauer’s head. He is not selfish. He isn’t selfish and wants to show his confidence in teammate Jason Kubel, even against a left-handed pitcher. He doesn’t feel the need to play hero. Unfortunately (for him), his spot in the batting order, and his mega-contract dictate that he be selfish and go out and win a ball game for his team. Fair or not, that is what he needs to do.

It makes us realize that batting average doesn’t matter, and many other stats don’t matter. As we are no insisting and understanding that a middle-of-the-order hitter go out and drive in runs can no longer argue that RBI are overrated stats. I was one who always thought that RBI were too much a result of opportunity, and I still believe that they are. But teams pay for the guys who produce, and that does mean RBI.

Kevin Slowey was solid. I would say if we are looking at the most recent starts of Slowey, Baker and Blackburn, Slowey’s was the best, and Baker’s was the worst. Does that mean that Blackburn is the one out of the rotation when Duensing jumps into the rotation? Does Blackburn go to the bullpen or to Rochester? What do you think is going to happen?

Is it just me, or is Carlos Santana pretty good?

Here are some quick notes on what happened in the Twins minor league system on Tuesday:

  • Rochester lost 1-0 to Buffalo on Tuesday afternoon. Anthony Swarzak pitched really well. In seven innings, he gave up just one run (in the 7th) on the six hits and two walks. He struck out nine. Brad Hennessey threw two shutout innings. Unfortunately the Red Wings managed just three hits off of former Twin Ramon Ortiz.
  • New Britain was shutout 2-0 by Harrisburg. The Rockcats had just four hits. Steve Singleton went 2-4, and Joe Benson hit his 14th AA double. Tyler Robertson had his second straight good start. He threw six shutout innings. He allowed six hits and a walk while striking out five. Chris Province went 1.2 innings and gave up two runs on three hits. Tony Davis struck out the one batter he faced.
  • Nate Hanson singled in Deibinson Romero with the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning. Allan de San Miguel went 3-3. Evan Bigley went 2-4. Dan Osterbrock continued his excellent pitching. He reduced his ERA to 2.62 In eight innings, he gave up one run on eight hits. He walked one and struck out eight. Joe Testa struck out three in three shutout innings.
  • There were no games scheduled in the Midwest League on Tuesday.
  • Elizabethton lost to Johnson City 4-3. Blayne Weller gave up two runs (1 earned) on six hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out nine. Jean Mijares gave up two unearned runs on two hits in an inning. Zach See struck out two in a scoreless inning. Daniel Santana went 3-5. Buddy Munroe went 2-4 with his third double. Oswaldo Arcia went 2-4 with a walk and his 11th double.
  • The GCL Twins beat the GCL Orioles 11-10. Eddie Rosario went 4-5 with his eight double, first triple, three RBI and 12th stolen base. Kennys Vargas hit three doubles in five at bats. Matej Hejma went 3-4 with a walk. Jorge Polanco went 3-4 with three RBI. Kelvin Silvania and Jairo Rodriguez each had two hits. Pedro Guerra gave up only an unearned run in six innings. He gave up four hits, walked one and struck out three. Tyler Herr then gave up four runs on three hits and two walks in his inning. Bart Carter then gave up five runs on seven hits in two innings.

And for more about The Bunt Heard ‘Round the State, check out this excellent article by 1500espn’s Tom Pelissero.

If you have any comments, please feel free to leave them here.


11 Responses to “The Bunt”

  1. Maija July 21, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    That Carlos Santana kid had been looking pretty good. I wonder how long he will continue that.

  2. Ben July 21, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    Mauer must be hurt to the point where he doesn’t have confidence in his ability to hit the ball out of the infield.

  3. Jim H July 21, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    I don’t know. Sometimes people pretend that Mauer never gets critized but that has never been true. Media people and even casual fans have critized him practically from the moment he signed. It is usually kind of silly and rather backhanded. He doesn’t hit for enough power, he is hurt too much, he doesn’t act like a leader enough, etc. This despite the fact that he does things with the bat that no catcher in major league history has done before, that he played virtually the same number number of games as the always playing hurt Torii Hunter who was never critized for missing games. I suspect the leadership thing is pretty much a crock as well.

    Now you can take a poke at him for not swinging away in that situation but some of the comments are pretty overblown, even the stats quoted by Howard Sinker don’t mention the probability of scoring if the bunt had succeeded. The fact is that over 70% of Mauer’s bunts result in hits is a big deal. If the flak over this bunt results in Mauer never using this weapon again or using it even less than he does now, that would be a big mistake. There is no doubt that the failed bunt seemed to screw up what could of been a really big inning. On the other hand, a line drive single hit at the left fielder would of likely accomplished the same thing as a successful bunt. Bases loaded, Kubel at bat.

    I guess what bothers me is the attempt to suggest that not hitting away in that situation is somehow a huge downfall in Mauer’s approach to the game or a fault in his personality, or something that $184 million dollar should never do partly because other highly paid number 3 hitters never do it.

    I am not sure that I liked him bunting in that situation, but again his ability to bunt is one of the things that separate him from others with the same basic skill set. We probably don’t want to take that skill from him.

    • Kunza July 21, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

      This all makes no sense at all.

  4. Dan July 21, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    The only good reason for mauer to bunt is to prevent himself from hitting into a double play. That raises another more serious problem.

  5. USAFChief July 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    “I am not sure that I liked him bunting in that situation.”

    Meanwhile, 99% of people with any baseball sense ARE sure they DON’T like him bunting in that situation.

    It was a bad play. Really bad. The go ahead run is on second base with 1 out. He’s the 3 hitter for a reason…it’s his JOB to try to drive in that run.

  6. ben July 21, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

    If you recall, he bunted late in game 163 vs sox in 2008 too. I dont remember if they were behind or not at that point but nobody was on base. Honestly, I wouldn’t expect nick punto to bunt there. Is this proof positive that he should be hitting second or what? Did we witness a frodian slip where Mauer himself views himself as a tablesetter? Seems like he admitted as much in Joe C’s article. His statement after the game made it seem like he isn’t an on field leader. I dont know.

  7. darin July 21, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

    If I was Jo Mauer I would say I forgot that there was already 1 out. It makes you look dumb saying that but it makes it look better than the truth. Well played Mauer??? Is that in the game?

  8. Jim H July 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    No, 99% of the people who think he shouldn’t of bunted in that situation are making way more out it than they should. More than likely his hands hurt, his shoulder hurts, he had just got through trying to baby Slowey through his start because he realizes that at least one of the struggling starters must step up if the Twins are going to make the postseason and made an arguably bad decision. But it isn’t that bad of decision. He is a great bunter and if he gets down in that situation, he puts a great deal of pressure on a rather young pitcher not to make a mistake. Kubel’s numbers with the bases loaded are rather formidable. A sucessful bunt also increases the chance of Cuddyer batting, who has been hot.

    On top of that, it wasn’t the ninth inning and the game was already tied. Like I said it was an arguably bad decision, but I don’t see why anyone would question his fortitude over it or even suggest he shouldn’t be a third place hitter or that $184 million contract means he should never bunt.

    Mauer has a great BA with runners in scoring position over his career. Even though he doesn’t hit home runs like many think he should, he still hits for power.(Who leads the team in doubles?) These type of overblown examinations of every questionable decision over the course of 162 games are annoying at best. It reeks of a football mentality, where one mistake can cost your team one game out of 16.

  9. jack July 21, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    “Mauer has a great BA with runners in scoring position over his career. Even though he doesn’t hit home runs like many think he should, he still hits for power.(Who leads the team in doubles?)”

    I think that is everybody’s point

    “His hands hurt, his shoulder hurts…”

    and they didn’t last year? or the year before or the year before? Do you want cheese to go with that whine? Maybe Jo can have kubel catch too.

  10. Jim H July 21, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    OK I get it. Lets put all sort of unrealistic expectations on Mauer so when he makes a mistake, even a defensible one, we can beat him up over it. Jack, think about it. He is still the same player he was last year, probably not as healthy or as lucky that is all. The fact that he signed a big contract doesn’t mean he should change as player. Why anyone want to take his bunting away is kind of beyond me. If it brings the 3b in a step or two it might get him a couple of doubles down the line during the season. Since he gets a hit over 70% the time when he bunts, to take that skill away is pretty dumb.

    Perhaps he picked a bad time to bunt. But you don’t know how beat up he is and neither do I. And as I said the Twins are paying him to use his best judgement on how he can best help the team. My take is that his judgement is pretty good and I won’t beat him up for this kind of “mistake”.

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