The AJC’s David O’Brien has a nice article up today on Braves rookie sensation Jose Constanza, who apparently goes by “Georgie” in the Atlanta clubhouse. And just what sort of article would it be without the traditional quote about how the ace never likes to face one of those pesky singles hitters:
“For me, personally, I’d rather face a guy like Barry Bonds than someone like [Constanza],” said pitcher Tim Hudson. “I want somebody up there that’s trying to hit homers; you have a tendency to get those guys to swing and miss. Constanza, I mean he’s pesky, he’s going to put the ball in play. A ball on the ground, more than half the time it’s going to be a hit.”
And, yeah, maybe he has a point. But boy did he use a bad example in this case. Bonds went 11-for-27 with five homers and just one strikeout against Hudson, good for a .407/.500/1.000 line. Maybe he would have been better off saying Troy Glaus, who hit .175 with one homer in 57 at-bats against Hudson, or Alfonso Soriano, who has hit .154 with three homers in 39 at-bats.
Or maybe he should have just passed entirely, because it sure looks like Hudson has handed singles hitters extremely well in his career. David Eckstein hit .242 in 66 at-bats, Darin Erstad came in at .243 in 70 at-bats, Ichiro is at .215 in 65 at-bats and Cristian Guzman was at .206 in 63 at-bats. Those are all of the “singles hitters” that Hudson has faced 60 or more times. One has to scroll down to Omar Vizquel (.314 in 35 at-bats) and Orlando Palmeiro (.382 in 34 at-bats) to find any singles hitters having fared well against Hudson.
Certainly, none have owned him like Ryan Howard (.298, 6 HR in 47 AB), Albert Pujols (.448 in 29 AB), Adam Dunn (355, 4 HR in 31 AB) and Carlos Delgado (.310, 7 HR in 58 AB).
In a special for USA TODAY Sports, Mike Vorkunov details how six teams — the Mets in particular — provide an education program that helps their Dominican prospects earn high school diplomas. It seems like an obvious win-win: smarter players make smarter decisions, making them more likely to achieve their potential as athletes. That, of course, requires spending money, which is why only six teams make the investment. For the players, if baseball doesn’t work out, they are better able to support themselves in other ways.
Vorkunov lists the Pirates, Tigers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Mariners as the other teams who provide an education program for their Dominican prospects. We learned earlier this month that the Phillies were also investing in making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “few teams” supply their minor league players with healthy food options.
Juan Henderson, the head of the Mets’ Dominican academy, said, “We see the benefit of it. I gotta tell you, we’re working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy. Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop.”
Kudos to the six teams for making a great decision and here’s hoping the other 24 teams follow suit.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols cranked out a two-run home run in the third inning against Rangers starter Derek Holland, breaking a scoreless tie. It’s the ninth homer of the season for Pujols and the 569th of his career, putting him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.
Harmon Killebrew is Pujols’ next target at 573, followed by Mark McGwire at 583 and Frank Robinson at 586.
Pujols hadn’t homered since May 13. He entered Monday night hitting a mediocre .228/.309/.395 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 188 plate appearances.
Monday has unfortunately been a day of injury news. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is the latest to hit the 15-day disabled list, as he has been diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone in his right wrist. The club has recalled infielder Cheslor Cuthbert from Triple-A Omaha.
Gordon suffered the injury colliding with third baseman Mike Moustakas attempting to catch a fly ball on Sunday afternoon. He is expected to miss three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports.
Gordon was having a tough 2016 campaign and the injury only makes it worse. He’s hitting .211/.319/.331 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 166 plate appearances on the year.
The Royals will likely use Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in left field in Gordon’s absence.
The Orioles announced on Monday night that the club has traded reliever Brian Matusz to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Brandon Barker and Trevor Belicek. The Braves are also receiving a Competitive Balance Round B pick (76th overall) in the 2016 draft.
Matusz, 29, made his season debut on April 23 after battling a back injury since early March. It’s been a struggle, as the lefty has yielded eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He is earning $3.9 million and can become a free agent after the season.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves are expected to designate Matusz for assignment. Essentially, the Braves bought the draft pick for Matusz’s remaining salary of $3 million of $3.9 million total.
Barker, 23, has been pitching at Double-A Mississippi after getting a taste of Triple-A last year. So far this season, the right-hander has a 2.00 ERA with a 40/12 K/BB ratio in 45 innings spanning eight starts and a relief appearance.
Belicek, a 23-year-old left-hander, has spent most of the year with Single-A Rome, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 29/1 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings over 11 relief appearances.