Daily Dose: Hudson set for Monday return

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Out since last July following Tommy John elbow surgery, Tim Hudson is scheduled to make his season debut Monday against the Marlins while Kenshin Kawakami has his usual start skipped. Hudson has fared pretty well while rehabbing in the minors, posting a 3.86 ERA and 14/4 K/BB ratio in 23.1 innings between high Single-A and Triple-A, and the 34-year-old was regularly clocked in the low-90s for his last start.
Hudson is definitely worth a flier in NL-only leagues, but don’t expect him to produce mixed-league value again until next season. Atlanta’s decision to bump Kawakami from the rotation is an odd one, because he has a 3.52 ERA in 20 starts since a poor April. Bobby Cox expressed concern that Kawakami could wear down because he’d never made even 30 starts in Japan, but he has a 3.75 ERA since the All-Star break.
While the Braves welcome back a pitcher who went 54-38 with a 3.78 ERA through his first four years in Atlanta, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Nyjer Morgan has provided a huge spark for the Nationals since they acquired him from the Pirates in late June, batting .351 with 22 steals and outstanding defense in 48 games. Unfortunately he’s now done for the season after suffering a broken hand Thursday, finishing his breakout campaign at .307/.369/.388 with 40 steals and 73 runs in 119 games. His teams were 51-64 when he started, 46-90 when he didn’t.
Morgan has played somewhat over his head and is already 29 years old, but is also a lock to be the Nationals’ starting center fielder and leadoff man again next season. While hitting over .300 with a .370 on-base percentage will be tough to repeat, he hit .293 in the minors, batted .296 in various stints with the Pirates prior to this season, and has the speed to swipe 50-plus bags even if his OBP declines a bit in 2010.
* Bumped from the rotation earlier this week, Brad Penny asked for and received his release Thursday. He pitched his way out of Boston by going 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 131.2 innings, including 0-4 with a 9.11 ERA in his last five starts, but several teams are reportedly already in the mix to sign him for the stretch run. Unless he winds up in the National League, don’t count on Penny having any real fantasy upside.
AL Quick Hits: Billy Wagner threw a bullpen session Thursday and informed the Red Sox that he’s unavailable to pitch on consecutive days … A.J. Burnett lost Thursday despite racking up a season-high 12 strikeouts … Francisco Liriano got a cortisone shot in his injured elbow Wednesday and may be out for the season … After shutting out the Yankees for six innings in his last start, Junichi Tazawa was rocked for nine runs Thursday … Rather than joining the White Sox’s rotation Jake Peavy (ankle) will make his fourth rehab start Saturday at Triple-A … Chris Davis homered off a lefty Thursday in his third straight start since being recalled from Triple-A … Andy Marte went 2-for-4 with a game-winning homer Thursday and now has a 1.000 OPS in his last 10 games … Jacoby Ellsbury left Thursday’s game after injuring his ankle on a feet-first slide … Adam Jones (back) is now hoping to rejoin the lineup Friday … You might be surprised to learn who leads the AL in homers since June 1.
NL Quick Hits: Garrett Jones hit a game-winning homer Thursday, going deep for the 15th time in 189 at-bats … Mike MacDougal recorded five outs with a one-run lead Thursday for his eighth save of the month … J.A. Happ took a complete-game loss Thursday, allowing three runs … St. Louis is reportedly close to signing 36-year-old closer Ryan Franklin to a contract extension … Bengie Molina (quadriceps) missed his third straight game and underwent an MRI exam Thursday … Chris Coghlan hit a pair of homers Thursday and is now batting .355 in the second half … Batting higher than fifth in the lineup for just the 15th time this season, Matt Kemp went 3-for-5 with a homer Thursday … Javier Vazquez tossed seven scoreless innings Thursday, with his ERA dropping to 3.02 … Vicente Padilla won his Dodgers debut Thursday with five innings of two-run ball … Thursday was Carlos Gonzalez’s first game back after slicing his hand with a steak knife and he promptly exited with a bruised thumb.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.