Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson’s eephus pitch may have had some history behind it

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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.

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.