Like most Mets fans, I was excited when the team acquired Francisco Lindor over the winter. We were supposed to be treated to one of the best players in the game in his prime. It is an understatement to say we have all been disappointed. And I’m not even talking about his putrid hitting. I am talking about the sacrifice bunting.
I won’t get into the argument that sacrifice bunting is almost always a dumb play. But for someone who is supposed to be an elite player whom you are paying $341 million to swing the bat, it is even dumber. But it does not seem like the manager is going to tell him to stop anytime soon.
“I always want him swinging,” Luis Rojas said, according to the New York Post. “But this is what he believes is part of his game.
“I’m not going to get in the way of a player like Francisco, who has this mentality and has brought a lot to this team, to have the mindset of winning games. And he wants to be productive this way at times. I have his back.”
So where did Lindor learn this style of play? Likely from his good friend and mentor, fellow Puerto Rican native Carlos Beltran. If you’ll remember, Beltran had the annoying habit of also bunting instead of swinging his big bat. Here’s what he said about it in 2006:
“That’s the way I play the game,” Beltran said. “I like to win ballgames and I will do whatever it takes to help the team win. In that situation, even if it’s the first inning, when you’re facing a guy who’s a good pitcher… we have the opportunity to score runs early. So we can’t waste those opportunities. So I feel like, get the guys over.”
Now, I vividly remember then-manager Willie Randolph expressing dismay at this strategy, saying he told Beltran to stop it. I can’t find any record of that. Maybe he said it years later. Instead, this is what Randolph said in the same 2006 article:
“There’ll be times.. where you’ll know he has to swing the bat,” Randolph said. “But early in the game, just getting the work in or whatever, it’s OK. That’s a non-issue for me.”
Sound familiar. Seems like Rojas has been studying Randolph like Lindor studied Beltran.
Almost everyone will agree that the player who is supposed to be the big cog in your lineup choosing to sacrifice bunt early and often in games is just a bad play. So it is up to the manager to stop it. And if Luis Rojas can’t do it on his own, then maybe the Baseball Maverick, Sandy Alderson, has to step in and order his manager to order his player to stop. It’s just that simple.
Alderson cannot be happy about it — after all, one of the tenents of sabermetrics is that you don’t give away outs. And since Alderson invented sabermetrics (in his mind, probably), this should rankle him every time Lindor squares around.
I just don’t want to see it anymore. So please, someone tell him to stop.