Hindsight is 20/20, but the Atlanta Braves are really wishing they hadn’t let Tim Hudson go last offseason. Actually, that has been the consensus feeling around a struggling Atlanta ball club for some time now. There is, of course, nothing the Braves can do about losing Hudson now, but a little speculation never hurt anybody. So let’s take a look at what the Braves would look like if Hudson was still on the team.
Hudson signed a two-year, $23 million contract in the offseason with the San Francisco Giants, as questions of his age and the health of his ankle abounded. The former Atlanta ace has since silenced all speculation of his being unable to perform, as he has quietly become the most consistent starter on a Giants team that is contending for the NL West crown against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Heading into Monday’s afternoon contest against the New York Mets, Hudson boasted an exceptional 2.71 ERA to go along with a 1.12 WHIP, numbers that would be more than welcome on the Turner Field mound right about now.
Baseball is a business, and we are reminded of that each and every season at the trade deadline. Players who have played entire careers with one team are suddenly moved to another. Guys who have become the best of friends, as was the case with Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann in Atlanta several years ago, are separated and forced to become opponents. By the way, Francoeur now plays on the West coast with the San Diego Padres, while McCann plays on the East with the New York Yankees.
So Atlanta fans understand why Hudson is no longer a Brave, but that doesn’t mean Braves Country isn’t allowed to still be a little bitter about his leaving. Hudson was the perfect Atlanta Brave, born in Columbus, Georgia, before becoming a star on The Plains of Auburn University. When Hudson was at his best, he was an Atlanta Brave. He played with Atlanta from 2005-2013, establishing himself as not only a fan-favorite, but a guy who his teammates could count on both on the field and off of it.
Hudson has never experienced a losing season in the big leagues, showcasing his consistency and steady performance over the years. The former Brave was even named an All-Star once in Atlanta, while helping the team win the NL East in 2005 and 2013, his first and last seasons in Atlanta.
So why reminisce now? Why torture ourselves thinking about how much different the Braves team would look if Hudson still dawned the red and blue? Because things are going south fast for the Braves.
The Braves are currently mired in a six-game losing skid out on the West coast, and the team still has to face Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners before returning home. And when Atlanta finally does make it home, series with the Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics await the struggling Braves. It seems, in times when the perennial NL East power has struggled in 2014, that there is no real leadership in the clubhouse. Several Braves players, namely Andrelton Simmons, have declined interviews after poor performances. There is no accountability, and there is no veteran leadership in the clubhouse. Tim Hudson could change both of those things.
Numbers-wise, the Atlanta rotation has held things together pretty well in 2014, all things considered. Julio Teheran is having his breakout season in the bigs, and Aaron Harang has had a much better year than anyone anticipated. Even Ervin Santana has rebounded from his mid-season struggles, emerging as Atlanta’s number two starter. But Mike Minor has been absolutely terrible, and the staff has already been decimated by injuries to several key starters. Atlanta’s playoff hopes are fleeting, but assuming the Braves do squeak into the playoffs, a one-two punch of Hudson and Teheran would be much more formidable than anything Atlanta has right now.
So while looking back and saying “what if” generally does no good, wishing Hudson was still an Atlanta Brave isn’t a bad thing. He is a class-act who deserves the best, even though Braves Country wishes the best could come in an Atlanta uniform. Keep up the good work in San Fran, Huddy. And good luck in the pennant race.