Tim Hudson's return

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I gave it short shrift in the recaps this morning, but Tim Hudson’s return to the Braves is worth a few more words and thoughts.

I didn’t see the game, and even if was televised where I live I probably wouldn’t have watched it due to the 3+ hour rain delay that kicked things off.  But friend of CTB tHeMARksMiTh watched it, and he gives us a scouting report:

Sinker — excellent movement and velocity (89 and 90 mph) but relatively poor command;

Cutter/Slider — indistinguishable between the two pitches; sat around 85; little movement and barely noticeable;

Changeup/Splitter — good movement but pretty poor command;

Curveball — didn’t throw it much, but when he did, it was a good one; don’t really remember him throwing it much but he should;

Velocity — very good and around where he was when he left off which is fairly impressive;

Command — not there but was around the plate, and I imagine this will come with time.

The first inning was a bit rough. He left a couple pitches up to Coughlan and Helms, which were hit hard, but he was fine for the rest of the inning. Cantu got jammed but flipped it into center, but it’s worth mentioning that Hudson missed his spot by about three feet. After that, lots of ground balls and few runs. He definitely wasn’t sharp, but I don’t think anyone expected him to be. Still, I was encouraged that the velocity and movement were there.

Fair enough.  Command really is the problem for guys coming back from Tommy John surgery, and his lack of command is a continuation of what he was doing on his rehab start. Velocity, surprisingly, tends to come back more quickly.  In any event, Hudson’s start was encouraging, even if we can’t expect him to be the difference maker in the wild card race. 

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.