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.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.