If Jake Peavy's mind could be clocked like a fastball, he'd always register in the upper-90s because he's constantly digging into something, and last weekend, he launched into a conversation about Coors Field and all of the quandaries that the place presents for pitchers. The thin air, the enormous outfield, the hard, dried-out infield, across which grounders seem to skip like rocks on a pound.
So it was within that chat and a corollary discussion about infield shifts that another idea popped up: Why don't teams -- the Rockies or visiting clubs -- move one of their infielders into the outfield? Under certain circumstances, why not play an alignment with four outfielders?
It's an idea best applied to Coors Field, probably, because of the extra space in a ballpark with left- and right-field foul lines measured at 347 feet and 350 feet, respectively, and 415 feet to straightaway center field. But in defending some hitters, in specific situations, it would seem to be an interesting option worth exploring in every ballpark.
The premise behind the revolutionary wave of infield shifts that have become prevalent over the last five or six years is quite simple: Place your fielders where the hitter is most likely to hit the ball.
At the same time, some veteran baseball men believe, the strategy can get into the head of the hitter, and force them to adjust to an approach that takes away their strengths. Some hitters can choose to beat the shift with a bunt, yes, but that also means that they are sacrificing their opportunity to do big damage.