Daily Dose: Lidge blows another one

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Brad Lidge blew his MLB-leading 11th save Wednesday, dropping to 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA. Asked afterward why Lidge continues to receive save chances, Charlie Manuel said: “I keep sending him back out there and hopefully he does the job. That’s about all I can say. I pull like hell for him every time he goes out there.” Brett Myers isn’t an option because of shoulder problems and Manuel doesn’t trust Ryan Madson. So …
Benjamin Franklin once opined that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, which would make Manuel certifiable. Philadelphia has enough cushion in the NL East that allowing Lidge to cough up lead after lead hasn’t hurt their postseason chances, but all that margin for error vanishes in less than two weeks and the Phillies’ bullpen is as big a mess as ever.
While the “pull like hell for him” approach to managing proves dicey, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Tim Hudson allowed nine hits and two walks in six innings Wednesday, but worked around the many base runners by inducing three double plays among 16 ground-ball outs. Hudson was no sure thing to pitch at all this year after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery last August, but hasn’t missed a beat since returning last month and is now 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA through five starts.
His average fastball has clocked in at 90.1 miles per hour after living between 90.3 and 90.9 in the four seasons prior to going under the knife, his breaking-ball velocity is also similar to pre-surgery levels, and perhaps most importantly he’s maintained the extreme ground-ball tendencies that have long keyed his success. Hudson looks strong so far, but the Braves still have a tough call on his $12 million option for 2010.
* Milton Bradley issued a public statement Wednesday, apologizing to both the Cubs and fans. Meanwhile, the team agreed to make his 15-game suspension with pay so that Bradley and the players’ union wouldn’t raise a stink. In other words, he’ll make about $400,000 to take a two-week vacation and then this offseason the Cubs will do everything possible to shed the two years and $20 million remaining on his contract.
AL Quick Hits: Jermaine Dye finally snapped out of his second-half funk with a pair of homers Wednesday … Josh Beckett made a rare start without Jason Varitek as his catcher Wednesday, winning with Victor Martinez behind the plate … After a brief stint in the bullpen, Francisco Liriano is slated to replace Jeff Manship in the rotation Sunday … Justin Masterson was rocked for eight runs Wednesday, making him 1-5 with a 5.21 ERA since joining the Indians … X-rays on Jorge Posada’s injured foot came back negative, but Jose Molina got the start Wednesday … Matt Wieters went 2-for-4 with a homer Wednesday and is batting .377 this month … Tim Wakefield is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Blue Jays on a week’s rest … Carlos Guillen homered from both sides of the plate Wednesday as the Tigers stayed 2.5 games up on the Twins … Wade Davis struggled Wednesday after throwing 124 pitches in his last start … Denard Span (head) is hoping to rejoin the lineup Friday.
NL Quick Hits: Bobby Cox announced Wednesday that he’ll return for one more year as Braves manager before moving into a front-office gig … Prince Fielder smacked his 42nd homer Wednesday to take over the NL lead with 131 RBIs … Martin Prado was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup after being hit on the knee by a liner during batting practice … Lou Piniella said Wednesday that the Cubs may opt to shut Rich Harden down for the season … Chad Billingsley returned to the rotation Wednesday with nine strikeouts and a Quality Start … Carlos Ruiz (wrist) could rejoin the lineup by early next week after an MRI exam showed no structural damage … Kevin Hart was rocked for eight runs Wednesday, making him 1-7 with a 6.93 ERA since joining the Pirates … Bud Norris tossed six scoreless innings Wednesday to out-duel John Smoltz … Mark Reynolds broke his own single-season strikeout record and no one really cares … Adam LaRoche stayed hot Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.

Free agent reliever Eric O’Flaherty weighing interest from four teams

New York Mets pitcher Eric O'Flaherty throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 8-6. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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Veteran reliever Eric O'Flaherty is coming off the worst season of his career, but there’s still plenty of interest in a bounceback, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s deciding between four teams and “should sign a deal by the weekend.”

You really can’t sugarcoat O’Flaherty’s 2015. The 31-year-old was flat-out bad, posting an 8.41 ERA and 21/18 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work between the Athletics and Mets. Opposing batters hit .343/.427/.482 against him. I keep going back to check if that’s a misprint, but nope, it’s real. He also missed some time with shoulder inflammation. On the bright side, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last month that O’Flaherty feels healthy and believes that he has fixed his mechanics.

O’Flaherty’s career has veered off track since Tommy John surgery in 2013, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and throws from the left side. He’s the kind of guy who will continue to get chances.

Mets sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

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Veteran outfielder Roger Bernadina has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.

Bernadina was a semi-regular for the Nationals from 2010-2012, but never developed as much as hoped offensively and didn’t play in the majors at all last season.

At age 32 he’s a career .236 hitter with a .661 OPS in 548 games as a big leaguer and given the Mets’ outfield depth–they already have Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in bench/part-time roles–Bernadina seems likely to begin the season in the minors.

J.R. Graham is in The Best Shape of his Life

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher J.R. Graham celebrates after the final out as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 12-2 in  a baseball game, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Twins won 12-2. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Twins reliever J.R. Graham has lost “roughly 30-40 pounds this offseason.” It’s not a result of workouts, though. Just a change in diet. Bollinger says that Graham cut out sugar, alcohol and foods heavy in carbs and focused on a high-protein diet with lots of salads, meats and vegetables.

That’s an awful lot of weight to lose in four months, but the dude is only 26 and guys in their 20s lose weight just by thinking about it. Which is so very annoying to those of us who aren’t guys in their 20s.

The real test, of course, will come when he is working out far more strenuously once spring training starts and gets into the season. Normal schmos like me can keep up that kind of diet without much of a hitch as long as we have the willpower. An athlete’s energy requirements are far greater and far more specialized, so he’ll need more fuel than he’s probably been getting this offseason. Word is, however, that professional sports teams have people on staff that, you know, have made monitoring that kind of thing their life’s work.

In the meantime:

“I can just feel the change,” Graham said. “The energy. Everything. I feel great. I’m excited to see how it’ll translate into spring. I know I shouldn’t have any problems because I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m faster. All that. So it’s really exciting.”

It’s very exciting indeed. Because, with that, Graham becomes the latest baseball player to be . . . In The Best Shape of His Life.