Et tu, Rickey?

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Nothing I hate more than when an old timer talks about how people don’t play the game as well/right/hard/whatever now than they did back in the day. I didn’t figure Rickey Henderson would be one of those guys — I figured he’d be one of those “Rickey was ahead of his time, and the game is finally catching up to Rickey” people — but I guess not:

• How has the game changed since you played?

RH: “The game has changed a lot. Modern technology, computers. They know about all the players on every team. To me the game has changed too much because we share so much information with the kids that they’re losing the ability to trust themselves. That’s what’s making the game not as well-played as in my era.”

I think a Rickey Henderson in-his-prime would dominate today just like he did in the 80s and early 90s because he’s an inner-circle, all-time talent. But I think it’s kinda hogwash to say that the game is not as well-played today as it was in his era.  Defense is much better. Conditioning is much better. Scouting is much better. Training techniques and video makes everyone better. Everything. Just ask this guy.

Indeed, it seems like baseball is the only sport where people tend to default to the “it was better in the past” mindset. No one does this with track and field, swimming, basketball, football or anything else. Yet we are to assume that baseball is the one athletic pursuit where people aren’t better overall than they used to be? Bah.

Oh well, still a good interview because he’s Rickey after all and I’ll never not love Rickey.

(link via BTF)

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.