Daily Dose: Dodgers kennel O-Dog

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Orlando Hudson has been a very nice pickup for the Dodgers, batting .288/.357/.417 in 139 games after inking an incentive-laden one-year contract this offseason, which is exactly the type of production that you’d expect from a career .283/.347/.431 hitter. However, the three-time Gold Glove winner’s defense has slipped a bit on the wrong side of 30 and Ronnie Belliard’s hot bat since joining the team has Hudson benched.
Belliard started at second base Sunday for the third time in four games and manager Joe Torre indicated that he’ll stick with the midseason acquisition who’s hit .304 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 18 games since arriving from Washington. Los Angeles has a postseason spot locked up, so who plays second base for the next two weeks is of little importance, but Hudson is a better player and should play in the playoffs.
Along with the on-field impact of benching Hudson for Belliard, the off-field impact is that the incentive-filled one-year pact pays Hudson $10,000 per plate appearance at this point. He stands to lose $100,000 or so down the stretch, but deserves credit for saying all the right things when asked about the situation. Hudson has earned about $4 million in incentives along with $3.4 million in guaranteed money so far.
While the Dodgers decide to shake things up with about eight percent of the season remaining, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Marco Scutaro came into this season as a 33-year-old lifetime .261/.325/.377 hitter, but has obliterated his previous career-highs in almost every key category by batting .282/.379/.409 with 12 homers, 35 doubles, 14 steals, 90 walks, and 100 runs in 144 games for Toronto. Scutaro always showed that type of promise as a minor leaguer, but for whatever reason that plate discipline and power rarely surfaced previously.
Unfortunately his breakout season may be over thanks to a lingering heel injury that he aggravated Sunday. “I’m pretty sure that he’s probably not going to play the rest of the season,” manager Cito Gaston revealed Monday. As an impending free agent Scutaro has earned himself a ton of money during the past six months and should be able to at least quadruple this season’s $1.1 million salary on the open market.
* Aroldis Chapman hasn’t made many headlines since defecting from Cuba in July, but the 21-year-old elite pitching prospect took the next step toward becoming a free agent Monday by establishing residency in the small European country of Andorra. He’s petitioned MLB for free-agent status and may officially be on the open market at some point within the next month.
Some people question Chapman’s true age and there’s plenty of disagreement about his long-term upside, but there’s no doubt that he’s about to become a very rich man. Expect a bidding war between the usual big-payroll suspects like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Angels, and Dodgers. If eligible for the draft Chapman would almost surely be a top-five pick, but he’s not necessarily ready to make a fantasy impact in 2010.
AL Quick Hits: Denard Span left Monday’s game after being plunked on the helmet by a pitch, but walked off the field under his own power … Chad Gaudin has officially replaced Sergio Mitre in the Yankees’ rotation … Jarrod Saltalamacchia underwent surgery Monday for thoracic outlet syndrome and hopes to be fully healthy for spring training … Daniel Hudson showed some promise in his first MLB start Monday, but took a loss against Minnesota … Junichi Tazawa was placed on the 60-day disabled list Monday with a mild groin strain … Rob Johnson injured his ankle celebrating the Mariners’ walk-off victory Friday night … Kevin Millwood triggered his $12 million for next season by going over the 180-inning mark Monday … Nick Blackburn turned in seven shutout innings Monday to give him almost identical numbers to last season.
NL Quick Hits: Cecil Cooper was fired Monday after managing Houston to a 171-170 record in two-plus seasons at the helm, with third-base coach Dave Clark taking the interim title … Jose Reyes (hamstring) took batting practice Monday and still hopes to play again this season … J.J. Hardy started Monday over Alcides Escobar for the third time in four games … Pittsburgh will reportedly pursue free agent Rick Ankiel this offseason and may also try to re-sign John Grabow … Troy Glaus (oblique) may sit out the Cardinals’ entire nine-game road trip … Ted Lilly has been scratched from his scheduled Wednesday start with shoulder soreness, so Jeff Samardzija will take his place … After another mid-game benching, it seems as though Yunel Escobar is wearing out his welcome in Atlanta … Sidelined since July with a broken foot, Reed Johnson returned from the disabled list Monday … Brett Myers is unavailable out of the Phillies’ bullpen because of shoulder soreness.

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

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Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.