Orlando Cabrera is John Galt

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Orlando Cabrera doesn’t much care for playing third base. But according to Paul Hoynes, Cabrera has a way of dealing with the challenges facing him at the hot corner:

The Tribe’s Orlando Cabrera prepared for his second-ever start at third base Wednesday night by reading “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand.

“This is my bible,” Cabrera said. “It’s over 1,000 pages long.”

Cabrera’s copy of Rand’s 1957 novel is worn. The spine of the book is taped over to help hold it together. Cabrera said he reads it every year.

“The book is about objectivism. It’s about many things,” Cabrera said. “It’s about how to be successful in life. It’s about how to live life now while you’re still alive.”

Hey, whatever floats his boat. And I have no problem with people who take some of their cues in life from Rand’s writings. Though I am not a libertarian or an objectivist by any stretch of the imagination, most philosophies have at least some valuable insights into the human condition, Rand’s included.

But I gotta tell ya, I’ve never been too impressed by people who go in for that stuff whole hog, think of “Atlas Shrugged” as “their bible” and otherwise consider themselves hard core objectivists. I haven’t the space for it here, and I doubt you all have the stomach to hear me go on, but let’s put it this way: anyone who thinks that they are right simply because of the nature of their being — as do the heroes of Rand’s books and, based on many accounts, Rand herself — is not the sort of person who can teach me much or whose example I feel the need to follow.

People need to have their views and feelings questioned a hell of a lot more than they are and need to have their predispositions bolstered a hell of a lot less if they are to learn anything. Rand is like a gigantic circle jerk for people who already believe everything Rand has to say in the first place. And if you don’t believe me, try to get someone who thinks of “Atlas Shrugged” as “their bible” to tell you about the flaws or weak points of objectivism.  They’ll look at you like you’re from outer space.

All of that said, I think it’s pretty cool that Orlando Cabrera has an interest in philosophical thought, even if it ain’t my cup of tea.  Baseball is more fun with more thinkers.

The Mets are a mess

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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.

Joey Votto isn’t on board with the latest fly ball trend among hitters

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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.