It’s another travel day for me, as I head home from Chicago after a great visit. Hopefully my voice returns to me soon after all of my screaming. I sound like Adele during her voice-less hiatus.

  • Sounds like everyone is in agreement that Chris Volstad had a nice start yesterday, save for that one pitch to David Freese. “He threw the ball really well up to that point,” Dale Sveum said. “He got the sinker in on Freese all day long and tried to come in and left it out over the plate and that was a back breaker in that inning. … For the most part, it was a much more improved outing and he pitched more aggressively and used his sinker and did a good job.”
  • Volstad hasn’t won since July 10 of last year, which is a really incredible streak … at least until you realize that W/L for pitchers is an almost entirely meaningless.
  • It sounds like Kerry Wood will not be activated from the disabled list this weekend when he’s eligible to return to the team. Sveum is still talking about things like “building up shoulder strength.” Never a good sign.
  • Dale Sveum likes batting Tony Campana second in part because he likes the idea of someone like Campana dropping sacrifice bunts. “I think you have to do it because you’re putting pressure on the defense to throw a ball away,” Sveum said. “[With Campana bunting] it’s going to be bang-bang [at first base] whether it’s at somebody or not. And if he pulls off a good bunt he’s going to be safe.” It’s an interesting twist on the usually sabermetrically-loathed sacrifice bunt. Does it become less loathed if the guy doing the bunting is 30% likely to turn that sacrifice into a hit?
  • Ian Stewart’s numbers have turned to garbage after a 1 for 20 streak, but Sveum correctly notes that Stewart’s been hitting the ball hard. “He swung the bat good that one day when he hit the ball hard four times and I think sometimes when you don’t get results, guys start pressing a little bit and swinging out of the zone,” Sveum said. “But we’ll get him going. He has too much bat speed. The good thing is, for the most part, he’s getting good pitches to hit. We just have to get things going swinging the bats.”
  • The coaching staff is planning to have the catchers monitor pitchers for mound visits, rather than having pitching coach Chris Bosio trek out to the mound every couple innings. That’s fine, I suppose, though I wonder what the theory is there. Are they worried that it hurts more than it helps when pitchers see a coach coming out to visit them?
  • TC

    Did some quick back-of-the-napkin calculations on that Campana bunting question. The answer is….yea, it might actually make some sense to have him laying down sac bunts

    Using the base-out Run Expectancies at Tango’s site, I calculated the weighted change in RE using 30% no out on bunt 70% out on bunt runners advance for any situation where I’ve seen a true sacrifice bunt:

    0 outs:

    1 on first: +.0303 RE
    1 on 2nd: +.0782 RE
    1st & 2nd: +.1739 RE(!)

    1 out:

    1 on 1st: -.0295 RE
    1 on 2nd: -.0882 RE
    1st & 2nd: -.0355 RE

    So, yea, there’s a few occasions where this will make sense. The +.1739 RE for the 2 on no outs situation is shockingly high, and would be a great thing to introduce into the game strategy if those situations happened more than 1.5% of all plate appearances. (If Campana were to get 600 PA this year and bunted on every single runners on 1st and 2nd situation, it would likely lead to only an extra 1.56 runs…)

    There are obviously about 1000 problems with the data presented here, but its an interesting surface-level look at the question.

    • Jay Anderson Jr

      I would have to disagree with Sveum here. Putting him in a sac situation takes away the sneak bunt attempt. I don’t care how fast you are, if you are knowingly laying down a sac, you’re not going to beat it to first very often, if ever.

      • Bails17

        There is no “sneak bunt attempt” with Campana. All defenses will look for bunt and take it away first….no surprises here.

        • hansman1982

          Yup, in every at bat the third baseman plays up on the grass. There is no “sneaking one by” with Tony.

          • bluekoolaidaholic

            I don’t suppose there is any way to teach him to tap it over the 3b head like Yogi used to do??

    • Brett

      This is why I love you all. Nicely done.

  • TR

    Bunting for base-hits is more about placement and then SPEED. This will show my age, but, Ralph Garr used to be timed to first in 3.4 secs to first base, my old legs use to run 3.9 to 4.1 to first. Campana must be close to 3.5. If he places a sac bunt and fully squares, and hits his mark, he will beat it out. So far his bunts, are looking like drag or push base hit bunts, and they are not accurate enough; eventhough he probably goes 3.4 or 3.5.. I would go with a sac bunt stance, running at 3.7 with better placement and still flying. Plus, if he fully squares, it is easier to pull the bat back and swing/slap and hitting through a pulled in infield adds a new dimension and will keep the infielders back.

    • ty

      T.R. Excellent analysis. I would assume that you have pro background.

  • ferrets_bueller

    “He has too much bat speed”

    Well, that’s a new one.

  • FromFenwayPahk

    Chris Volstad is strong and getting stronger.

    Kerry Wood is old and getting older. I wouldn’t read too much in his extended stays on DLs. He only has so many bullets in that gun. He’ll shoot them in high leverage, high value situations. He’ll be held somewhere where a) he can preserve his health and his stuff, and b) won’t be in the way of someone younger who NEEDS the professional reps (someone else in the pen, probably)

    Great catchers can be on-the-field coaches, and should be; (the phrase ‘field-captain’ comes to mind…) I like this communications move.

    As far as the bunt. I have been thinking about this. Brett’s 30% idea is a solid one.
    Also, it might be a way (one of them) for Sveum to be field manager in chief (without letting computers dictate his every move). Personality and alpha-stuff matters when leading young men. (One of the detractions-distractions in Boston when sabremetrics first appeared was the emasculating of our then-GM with the monicker “Deep Blue Dan”).
    More likely, the sac bunt might not be mathematically defendable. But, perhaps the THREAT of the bunt is. Reposition the defense. Open up some holes. But you have to DO IT early in the season for it to be a credible threat. You can’t just slide your hand down the barrel of a bat and square up on the first pitch for the first time in October.
    Hah. October. I love saying “October” like that.

    • Luke

      Steve Clevenger’s manager for much of last season was a former major league catcher, and he had some awfully nice things to say about Clevenger’s handing of a pitching staff and calling of a game.  Clevenger might be very nicely suited to add some on-field pitching coach duties to his job description.

  • LouCub

    Any chance Kerry Wood would just hang it up??? This is crap…I’d rather have a young arm up instead of waiting on him anymore..No offense, I love the guy, but being that he won’t let them trade him and he’s always hurt what good is he to a rebuilding team???

  • Norm

    “Does it become less loathed if the guy doing the bunting is 30% likely to turn that sacrifice into a hit?”

    That would mean your #2 hitter has an OBP of .300 in those situations, right? so no, I don’t think so.

    • Luke

      I’m not so sure his OBP is only going to be .300 in sac bunt situations.  If he bunts regardless of where the pitch is, sure, but if we can assume he’s smart enough to lay off pitches out of the strike zone and that he will walk at his usual rate, then his OBP would be the same as it would be if were a .300 hitter in that situation.  Based on his 2012 Iowa numbers, that would give him an OBP of about .350.  That’s not bad for a No. 2 hitter.

      I used his 2012 Iowa numbers because (A) Campana is said to have bulked up some over the winter, and his success (compared to last season) of poking balls over the infield and into shallow left lends credence to the idea that his extra muscle is helping his game (if only slightly), and (B) he doesn’t have enough 2012 Chicago at bats to be worth talking about.  His major league OBP this season is .429.  I don’t think anyone thinks he can keep that up.

      This will be an interesting one to watch.  If Campana does emerge as a .300 hitter in bunt situations (has that phrase ever been used to describe a baseball player before?) and not a .300 OBP guy in bunt situations, then he just might be a pretty darn good two hitter.  I’d rather see him batting eighth myself, but I can see the logic here.

      Time will tell, I suppose.

      • Norm

        I was referring to successful sacrifices that Brett mentioned, so the walk is moot
        *edit* meaning if it is a sacrifice, it won’t be a walk, since he sac’d…now I’m confusing myself.

    • Brett

      A successful sacrifice offers no on-base at all. So, if he’s moving the runner over *and* not giving up an out 30% of the time (just a guess), that would make him the best “sacrifice” blunter in baseball. No one said anything about his OBP when he was NOT trying to give himself up.

      • Norm

        Right, the sac is successful, but he legs out a hit 30% of the time = .300 OBP
        If he just swings away, his OBP will be higher than .300 (assuming you think Campana is capable of putting up an OBP over .300 in the first place)

        • hansman1982

          then you also run the risk of him hitting a sharpley hit weak grounder to the SS and suddenly you are in the same spot you were before, but with another out. Bunts typically do a good job of moving the runner over, so if there are no outs, runner on first – might as well try to get Campana to lay down a bunt.

          • drew

            Right, but that is my problem with having him 2nd. If our best option with a guy on 1st w/ nobody out (may happen quite a bit if DD keeps it up) is a 30% chance of men on 1st and 2nd w nobody out, why is he batting there in the first place?

            I know it seems like I’m down on TC, but I just want to see what he can do swinging the bat. If he can show me he can consistantly get on base 35% of the time, I have no problem w him somewhere at the top. I just think its best if he shows us that batting 8th right now.

  • rcleven

    Tony should sac bunt all they want him to but not from the 2 hole till he learns how to actually make contact with ball. Campana is more suited to 8 hole until he improves his skill set.

    • Chef

      Exactly. If he’s going to have an .300 OBP with the bunt, I’d rather give him the chance to get on, steal 2nd and be bunted over to 3 by the 9 spot.

    • Jschroeder

      Why woul he ever sac bunt from the 8 hole to get a pitcher up with a RISP?

      • drew

        He wouldnt; hes talking about him bunting for a hit and the pitcher bunting HIM over.

  • Spencer

    I don’t understand why a coach can’t come out and talk to the pitchers. seems weird. if anything it breaks up momentum for the other team.

  • Brian

    The bunt attempt, sac or not, after DaJesus just hit a double, with none out sure looked good didn’t it? Then Campana strikes out on the next bunt attempt. Get a guy in the two spot who can actually hit the ball somewhere other than six feet in front of him.