Either Tim Hudson is telling different things to different people, or else yesterday’s report that he’s rejecting his half of the mutual option was bogus. This from Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who says that he was told the following by Hudson himself:
a. He has made it clear – which he did again – that he wants to stay here and will accept a “hometown discount” to stay with the Braves (long as his idea of such a discount isn’t entirely different than what the Braves have in mind); b. He wasn’t under the impression the Braves were or are planning to exercise that $12 million option anyway, so why would he have told someone that they are and that he’s gonna veto it?, and c. Even if they do exercise the option, he’s not sure he’d veto it.
None of that necessarily means that Hudson won’t leave town. He still will likely talk to the Braves about multiple years instead of the option, which doesn’t seem to be in either his or the Braves’ interests. He likewise gave himself an out by noting that “hometown discount” does not mean “bargain basement.” But the overall impression from these statements is that he wants to stay in Atlanta.
Maybe the most interesting thing in the article is O’Brien saying that a three year deal running between nine and ten million a year would get a deal done. That seems low to me, and maybe counterproductive for Hudson. If he’d take that, it means he really wants to stay in Atlanta. But it’s a reasonable enough deal that Hudson would be an attractive trading chit in the event of anything other than strong contention by the Braves over that time, thereby increasing the odds that he’d, you know, not stay in Atlanta. Hudson knows that, I’m sure, so he’d ask for a no-trade clause. Which the Braves have a team policy against offering. All of that makes for a tricky negotiation.
But obviously, if a team wants a player and a player wants a team, it’s much better to start off talking reasonable dollars rather than unreasonable dollars, and if O’Brien is right, that’s what’s happening here.
My guess: there will be a lot of back and forth on this over the next couple of months but, ultimately, Hudson will be in a Braves’ uniform next season.
The Mets lost again on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Braves. It’s their sixth consecutive loss and the club is now in last place in the NL East. Not exactly the start the Mets envisioned.
Matt Harvey got the start, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs on five hits and five walks with only one strikeout. After the game, Harvey said he was tight and that he threw yesterday expecting to start on Friday instead, per Matt Ehalt of The Record. Sounds like no one communicated to Harvey that he’d be starting this afternoon until it was too late for him to properly prepare.
Harvey started because Noah Syndergaard was scratched due to a “tired arm.” Syndergaard blew reporters off after the game, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma then added that Syndergaard ripped Mets P.R. guy Jay Horwitz for letting reporters approach him.
By the way, the Mets also lost outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a hamstring injury. Not much else can go wrong in Queens.
If you haven’t heard, fly balls — not ground balls or line drives — are all the rage among hitters these days. Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez summed it up perfectly last month when he said, “I’m not trying to hit a [freaking] line drive or a freaking ground ball.” The goal is to maximize damage. Last year, for example, fly balls became hits about 17 percent less often than ground balls (7.4% versus 24.6%), but hitters had a slugging percentage more than twice as much as on ground balls (.539 versus .267). This refocusing has helped hitters like Martinez as well as Ryan Zimmerman reinvigorate their careers.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who is as much a student of new age analytics as anyone in the game, doesn’t feel that this approach is necessarily a good one, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto said:
Where I get concerned is the guys that make this attempt and burn out too much of their time and don’t get a chance to be their best selves, and either don’t make it to the big leagues or don’t perform their best in the big leagues because they’re always attempting this new style of hitting. I see it with a lot of guys. Everyone tells the good stories, but there’s a lot of s—ty stories of guys who are wasting their time trying things.
Votto added that while the fly ball approach is working right now, pitchers will soon adapt and the fly ball approach won’t be so good anymore. And he’s right. Baseball has always been a game of adjustments. For example, as teams have gotten comfortable with shifting their infield, hitters like the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber have both dropped bunts down the third base line for easy hits. Knowing that hitters are aiming to hit fly balls now, pitchers may stay higher in the strike zone more often as one possible solution.
Votto is just trying to stay as well-rounded as possible. He says that he wants to become “unpitchable.” Votto wants to be like Angels outfielder Mike Trout, whom he describes as a guy “who can do absolutely anything he wants” and “at all times [has] all options.”
So far, Votto is having another productive season despite a relatively pedestrian batting average and on-base percentage. He’s hitting .238/.330/.563 with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 94 plate appearances. Coincidentally, he’s been hitting way more fly balls than usual as he’s currently carrying a 42.3 percent rate compared to his 33.1 career average, according to FanGraphs. His line drives are way down to 16.9 percent compared to his 25.4 percent career average.