Killing Defensive Shifts to Improve Offense and Other Bullets

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Killing Defensive Shifts to Improve Offense and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

rizzo buntI’m headed to Chicago today for a quick stop in town to do various things and see various people, so I will be traveling for a portion of the day today. (I know that sounds all cloak and dagger, but it’s nothing too enormous or secretive (otherwise I wouldn’t mention it at all).) I’ll have more on the trip soon.

In the meantime, you should still see the usual volume of posts today, and hopefully I won’t be too slow on any big news/rumors that break. There was already something big popping up this morning with the Red Sox. Being that I’m driving today, those moves actually make me a little nervous that we’re in for a crazy Monday …

  • David Laurila’s Sunday notes at FanGraphs are an interesting read, as always. There’s a bit on the offensive environment in baseball right now (down, big time), and MLBPA Director Tony Clark says that the players are open to discussing any changes MLB wants to put on the table if it is good for the game. The two that Laurila mentions are changing the height of the mound (which was famously lowered back in 1969 to assist offense) and banning defensive shifts. I’m generally in favor of seeing offense increased a little bit – it’s been trending sharply down for a long time now, and, while I don’t mind a 2-1 pitchers duel, incremental and younger fans, I suspect, do not – and I wouldn’t oppose altering the mound.
  • Banning defensive shifts, though … that would take some convincing. On the one hand, saying each position has to be covered within X area boundary is as arbitrary as saying it’s four balls to a walk, so I guess there’s nothing inherently evil about banning shifts. It would just be another rule to follow. And we do know that defensive shifting works, so it is driving down offense. On the other hand, I like the idea of teams being able to strategize where and how they want to play defense, and then it’s up to the other team to deal with it. Do we know for sure that, as teams’ offensive approach adjusts, there won’t be a flipped trend over time where defensive shifts stop working as well? Maybe even they start to harm teams? Thoughts?
  • For me, by the way, I think the solution to the offensive issue – if you see it that way – is probably a combination of slightly raising the bottom of the strike zone (the dropping of which may, alone, be responsible for the bulk of the offensive decrease in recent years) and adding the DH in the National League.
  • It sounds like special assistant Tim Wilken is not the only member of the Cubs’ front office interviewing for the Diamondbacks’ open scouting director gig. Nick Piecoro reports that national crosschecker Sam Hughes – the Cubs’ scout of the year in 2014 – is also on the short list. This is what happens when you have talented people around.
  • Speaking of talent and people who work for the Cubs, there’s another job opening in which some of you may have interest: Integrated Marketing Manager. It sounds like about what you’d expect, so those of you in marketing/communications/social media, if you were hoping for a chance to work for the Cubs, this could be it.
  • More than $141 million of Giancarlo Stanton’s monster $325 million extension will be gobbled up by the tax man over the course of the deal (Bloomberg). Pfft. Probably wasn’t even worth getting all that money in the first place!
  • The Cardinals’ top prospect list just came out this morning at BP, and, although I’ll never count the Cardinals out of anything about anything, it really doesn’t read all that impressively. It definitely doesn’t look like what you’d expect to read for a top 10 system. Obviously the tragic loss of Oscar Taveras has a significant impact on their young talent pool, but – and I offer this solely for the purposes of evaluating their prospect talent, not for any callous reasons – he had already graduated out of prospect status based on his big league experience in 2014. All that said, the Cardinals always seem to find a way to get a huge boost from some random 8th round pick whom nobody even discussed all the way up the ladder. So, yeah, expect the Cardinals to remain flush with young talent in the years to come.


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.