In a related story, J.J. Hardy has been committed to a mental institution.
Why a guy with Hardy’s skills, who could have tested the free agent waters after the season and likely signed a very lucrative contract with a team that has a chance to win this century would re-up with the Baltimore Orioles organization has me seriously questioning the guy’s sanity.
Regardless, Hardy likes it here for some reason, so he and the team agreed to a new $22 million contract that will keep the shortstop here through 2014.
At his press conference, Hardy acknowledged that Baltimore is where he wants to be:
“I’m also very excited,” he said. “From Day One in spring training I’ve really felt comfortable in this clubhouse, all the coaches, players. Everyone’s really made me feel comfortable and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”
Hardy’s injury history is a bit of a concern – he has played over 150 games just once in his 6 years in the bigs – but the O’s were willing to overlook that in the hopes of solidifying the shortstop position until 2010 #1 draft pick Manny Machado is ready to take over.
J.J. is on pace for one of his best statistical seasons, hitting .281/.336/.500 with 14 dingers and 37 RBI in 287 plate appearances so far this season. In 2008 with Milwaukee, he put up a .283/.343/.478 line with 24 and 74.
He leads O’s regulars in slugging and OPS and is third on the team in average and HR. While I still have to really wonder what he’s thinking by wanting to stay in B’More, the fact is that the O’s could do a A LOT worse than Hardy at SS (remember Cesar Isturiz, anybody?)
With Hardy, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and Zach Britton, the O’s have a decent core to build around for the next few years. With any luck, Brian Matusz will get his act back together and be pitching at a high level again soon. With a lot more luck, perhaps Chris Tillman will do the same.
I’ll save the rest of my pessimistic snark for another time.
For now, YAY J.J.!!!
And hey, at least the ladies in town are happy about this one, right @Mishel1824?