Since we're all A's-centric this week, let's pick back up with the community projections and see what 2008 has in store for Tim Hudson. Considering what we just gave up for one year of a centerfielder, the trade that brought the Georgia native Hudson to Atlanta looks like a real bargain for its time.
Last year Huddy seemed to get past the shoulder-shrug mediocrity of 2006 and back to the near-ace caliber pitcher he was with Oakland. His record would likely have looked a whole lot better if Bob Wickman had not blow several wins in the late innings for Hudson - he might have been able to win 20 games. He seemed to trust his sinker a lot more and was able to use it in all situations to get outs. The infield defense for Atlanta should be better than it was in 2007. Another year at second for KJ, a more mature and experienced Yunesco, and a much better defender at first base.
I expect Huddy to be more like the Huddy of last year than the Huddy of 2006 - I'm of the opinion that ugliness is behind him. Will he slot in the number two spot in the rotation or in the three spot? If Hampton is able to come back and James wins the fifth spot, then the rotation would be righty, righty, lefty, lefty, lefty. Cox and company may choose to bump Hudson down to the three spot to break up some of the lefties, moving Glavine up to the number two spot. We'll have to see how that shakes out, but it could affect the level of pitcher he's facing each week. A lesser starter may equal more opportunities for wins.
Factoring some of that in to my prediction, as well as the added pitching brain power that Tom Glavine brings to a staff, here is my prediction for Huddy's 2008 season:
18-9 with a 3.25 ERA in 225 IP while giving up a career-low 7 homeruns
He's still in his prime, he's surrounded by the best team he's had since coming to Atlanta, and he's becoming more of a wily veteran pitcher as he ages. I expect that Glavine's tales of how to pitch as an old man will help Hudson tremendously now and especially down the road.
Now here are Tito and the Gunshow (who now have their own site) with their latest Braves ballad: