This morning, Aaron posted about Braves starter Tim Hudson throwing Nationals first baseman and former Brave Adam LaRoche an “eephus” pitch in the top of the second inning during this afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition. Bill Ladson reported on the hijinks between the two:
“He is such a buddy of mine,” LaRoche said. “Another [time], he went to switch balls and then threw one at my head. The ball went all the way to the backstop. He likes having fun, apparently. I gave him the knuckleball signal walking up. I didn’t think he would do it. I should have known better.”
Perhaps coincidental, but Adam’s father Dave famously threw an eephus pitch in 1981 when he was with the Yankees:
Tip of the cap to /r/Baseball for the video.
Paul Jackson wrote about the pitch for ESPN back in 2008:
At a mound conference, it was nearly decided that the right-handed slugger would be pitched around, but LaRoche somehow persuaded his manager, Bob Lemon, to let him bait Thomas with four “slow curves” out of the strike zone. If the slugger laid off, he could have his free pass.
Thomas, for his part, did not want to walk. He no doubt wanted a piece of Dave LaRoche and his mediocre stuff, and the reliever obliged, throwing Thomas the slowest pitch he’d ever seen. LaLob missed outside, ball one. Lemon — who had never known a “slow curve” to rise out of view from the dugout — blinked and rubbed his eyes. Thomas, who had a much better look, nonetheless could not believe it.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.