Mets release Jose Valverde, fire hitting coach Dave Hudgens

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It’s a busy afternoon in Queens, as the Mets have released reliever Jose Valverde and fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens.

Valverde never secured the closer gig in New York, but he was reasonably effective before an ugly outing today–or at least as effective as the Mets could have possibly expected him to be–with a 4.05 ERA and 23/9 K/BB ratio in 20 innings. He gave up four runs today to inflate that ERA to 5.66.

Hudgens, meanwhile, takes the fall for an offense that currently ranks 14th among NL teams in OPS but is actually tied for fifth in runs per game with 3.92, just slightly below the league average of 3.95. Hitting coaches are notoriously tough to evaluate or analyze, but the Mets’ lineup isn’t exactly filled with high-upside bats.

This was his fourth season as the Mets’ hitting coach and in the previous three years the lineup ranked 11th, 12th, and 6th in runs scored among NL teams, so considering the lack of results he certainly got a lengthy leash. Minor league hitting coordinator Lamar Johnson has been named as Hudgens’ replacement.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.