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).
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.