Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Sveum: Bunt a `weapon'

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Aren't bunts supposed to be bad? Isn't that was Bill James says? Isn't that how Theo Epstein's Boston Red Sox looked at things, before Epstein took over the Cubs' operation?

Maybe.

But Cubs manager Dale Sveum also considers them weapons - sometimes even with his best hitter at the plate.

And if Sabermetrics and/or Epstein disagree?

``Theo's never talked to me about [Saber]metrics,'' Sveum said. ``When you're gaining two bases for one out and staying out of a double play later in the game, it's a weapon.''

The Cubs bunted four times in the final two innings Monday night, eventually scoring a pair of runs to beat the Cardinals, but not before .331-hitting Starlin Castro bunted into a double play with two on and none out in the eighth.

``Guys battle sometimes to get first an second, and the inning's over because of a ground-ball double play,'' Sveum said. ``As a manager you have to, unfortunately, think of the bad things that might happen.

``Are you going to sacrifice for one base for one out? No. But in a situation like that, yeah. Everybody's going to say, `Oh, they're going to walk [next batter Bryan] LaHair, or bring in the left-hander to face LaHair - which is fine. He hit a game-tying home run off [Marc] Rzepczynski [April 24 in the ninth.''

On the other hand, a walk to LaHair puts Alfonso Soriano at the plate against a guy, Mitchell Boggs, who'd held him hitless in nine career at-bats with seven strikeouts.

``But we got a guy at third. A sacrifice fly, we take the lead,'' Sveum said.

As it was, Soriano singled home the go-ahead run off Boggs after a two-out walk to LaHair.

``You can go on and on about it,'' said Sveum, who had four guys bunt in a stretch of eight batters late in Monday's game.

``Are you going to do it all the time? No,'' he said. ``But later in the game ... Like I told Castro, you're hitting third, but you're not a prototypical third hitter. You're a nice hitter, don't get me wrong. But you're going to be asked to bunt. You can do things, you can run. You ca get a bunt down and let guys screw it up. You see bunts screwed up as much as anything. ... You're not just bunting to bunt sometimes. ...

``You talk about [Saber]metrics, OK, you want to talk about that, then you talk about that,'' he said. ``The team that has more people on base in the course of a game is going ot win way more games than the other team. You want to keep potentially walking guys and all that, the odds gradually become in your favor to win the game. ...

``The bottom line is I'm the one who makes the decisions. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.''

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on May 15, 2012 3:00 PM.

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