Hudson lacks flash, but provides consistency

The Minnesota Twins made what would appear to be the last significant upgrade to this season’s roster on Thursday, agreeing to terms with the top free agent left in the market in second baseman Orlando Hudson.

Hudson does have a clause in the agreement that states if he’s a Type A free agent after the season, the Twins can not offer arbitration, meaning Minnesota would be unable to get his next team’s first-round pick and a compensatory pick. But I got a hunch if Hudson plays his way to that status next year, the Twins will be OK with the results. And if he became a Type B free agent and left, the Twins could still offer arbitration and get a compensatory pick, which isn’t bad either.

Hudson’s a two-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner. The Twins managed to get him for merely a one-year, $5 million deal with no incentives, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

He’s not a flashy player by any stretch of the imagination. But you can pretty much pencil him in for a .290 average with 8 homers and 60 RBIs while providing solid defense. And most importantly, his presence keeps both Brendan Harris and Nick Punto out of the starting lineup together at any given time. This allows the Twins to just start one of these two guys at third base, while placing the other one on the bench.

That’s encouraging considering Harris would be one of the worst starting third baseman in Major League Baseball. And Punto, for all of his great glove work, is a maddeningly inconsistent offensive player, and even his best offense isn’t that great. The guy slugged .284 last year!

Punto has a tendency to hit in even-numbered years, for what it’s worth.

The infielder most affected by Hudson’s presence on the roster is second baseman Alexi Casilla.

Casilla, who is out of options and would have to pass through waivers if he were sent to the minor leagues before the season, could very well end up being traded.

Would the Twins be willing to give up on Casilla? He was a nice contributor for them in 2008, though so was Brian Buscher and that didn’t really lead to anything. And Casilla did get the winning hit in Game 163 last year. The Twins would be best served carrying him and the loser of the Punto/Harris battle as back-ups, but I’m guessing Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire will save a spot on that roster for Matt Tolbert aka Punto Lite.

But back to Hudson. The Twins could sport a pretty tough lineup this year.

Against righties:

CF SpanMan, 2B O-Dog, C Baby Jesus, 1B Morneau, LF Kubel, RF Cuddy, DH Thome, SS Hardy, 3B Punto

Against lefties:

CF SpanMan, 2B O-Dog, C Baby Jesus, 1B Morneau, RF Cuddy, DH Kubel, LF Young, SS Hardy, 3B Harris

Those are pretty good lineups. And I think the bullpen should be very good too, with Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Jose Mijares forming the core of that unit.

If the Twins can get any sort of consistent and steady starting pitching – something they lacked the first five months of last season – they could be pretty tough to beat.

MORE ORLANDO HUDSON LINKS

The Star Tribune’s story and blog post

Aaron Gleeman’s take

ESPN’s Rob Neyer before the signing

 

10 thoughts on “Hudson lacks flash, but provides consistency

  1. For what it is worth, Casilia made one of the greatest plays last summer I can ever remember in Twins history. He was at second and a rocket was hit up the middle , he ran down the ball which I thought was impossible to get to , dove and while in mid air , flipped it with his glove to second baseman to force the out. The play was wonderous on many levels , just getting to it was unbeleivable but he had to decide instantly that just trapping it with his glove was not good enough but he had to ping pong it , and do it with the timing and be accurate enough to beat the runner. And it all worked perfectly. It was amazing . If Jeter had done that , they would have made him GOD . They still talk about Jeter’s play , his flip to home , as the PLAY , but Alexi’s was better. Sometimes we as fans should remember such stuff. And it always makes me think about the old saying “if a tree falls in the woods , does it make a sound if no one hears it?” Well if a great play happens , and the almighty sports media is not there to hype it , did it really matter? Lets face it – if Jeter were playing in Minnesota , he would not be canonized like he is now . And I am NOT picking on him . I am just challanging sports writers to be more thoughtful and the fans too.

  2. Let’s be honest, Casilla is garbage. He makes one good defensive play a year and gets one clutch hit a year. The rest of the year, he mopes around and doesn’t hustle. He can only play 2B, and does not put up great SB numbers because he can’t get on base. I’ve said this many times about Casilla and certain other young players: If you are 25 or older and have been playing baseball your whole life and you don’t get it and you don’t understand the game, you never will. Casilla will never be a productive major league player. If they can find a team stupid enough to trade for him, they should jump on that no matter what the other team offers.

    I know a lot of people don’t like Punto and/or Tolbert, but they provide a lot of value as bench players (starting is another story). Both can play 2B, 3B, SS, and OF. Both could come in late in a game as a pinch runner for Thome or as a defensive replacement. Casilla provides little value as a bench player because he will just sit around and whine about not starting.

  3. I think we as Twins fans should applaud the FO on a great off-season. Rob Antony did well with the arbitration players. Bill Smith did well with Pavano, Hardy, Thome, Condrey and now Hudson. All great additions for the Twins. If the Twins can get bounce-back years from some of the injured players (which is a big if), they could actually contend for a WS this year, not just the playoffs. This is the best offense and best bullpen the Twins have had in a very long time. The defense should be solid, and the rotation should be better than it was last year. The only true weakness is the lack of a #1 starter. Hopefully one of the guys steps up, or maybe the Twins will make a blockbuster trade at the deadline. It sounds like a longshot, but so did a $95Mil+ payroll. The Twins have finally realized that they are very lucky to have a pair of young superstars in their prime, and that the window for winning a WS is slowly closing every year. The time to win is now, and the Twins FO have finally started to do their part.

    This is the most excited I have ever been heading into spring training.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I appreciate your guys’ loyal readership of the blog.

    Truth harvestor, I had to laugh at your, “If Jeter had done that, they would have made him GOD,” comment. Hasn’t he already been made out to be God?

    The Twins have had a great offseason. And while it may have a little bit to do with having two young superstars, the main reason the Twins are spending like this is because of Target Field. If they were still in the Metrodome, this wouldn’t be happening. We’re talking an extra $50 million in revenue for this team every year at the new stadium.

  5. Casilla… good defensively? How about a -20.9 UZR/150 at 2B. That is horrible. By the way, a bad defensive play makes a routine play by Hudson look amazing. This was one of those cases. I am a Seattle fan and know first hand by watching Lopez that the easy plays look the hardest.

    Now, moving Punto to 3B actually makes him somewhat valuable. In a minimal amount of games he put up a 39.1 UZR/150 at 3B. That has to regress, but putting up .8 UZR in 5 games is pretty good. He was actually worth a total of 1.3 WAR last year and I think that could get back up to the 2 range as it was two years ago if he plays at 3B. This is a great move for the Twins. I am not a fan of the Twins, but I think they have had a really good offseason.

    Go over to fangraphs and check out what Dave Cameron has to say about the Twins offseason. As quoted, “Adding Hudson is just the cherry on top of what was already a good winter.”

    It could not have gone much better for the Twins.

  6. Of course the new stadium revenue is the reason for the jump in payroll. However, not every team will do that (see Pirates, Pittsburgh). Also, I don’t want to even talk about 2011, when the Twins supplemental revenue sharing money runs out. Low revenue teams that receive that money and build a new stadium still get that money in the first year in a new stadium. The Twins almost certainly will not qualify for that money in 2011. So we could see a return to the tight-fisted FO we all love to hate. Let’s hope 2010 is a memorable season, because we could see a firesale next off-season if the Twins don’t play well.

  7. Good point J, it looks like this year will be the Twins best year to make a run. While I don’t see a full scale “Florida Marlins” fire sale, take a look at this:

    1) The O-Dog is a 1 year deal unless the Twins make this season a frachise defining one (as in at least an AL pennant). So his $5M will be coming off the books after this year.
    2) Same with Pavano and his $7M.
    3) Cuddyer and his $9.5M also comes off the books as well, don’t be surprised if the Twins let him walk. At least I’m guessing that since he’ll be 31 then and they let a 32 year old Torii Hunter walk.
    4) Joe Nathan will only have one more year at $11.25M and a club option for $12M in 2012 so the trade equity will be very high for him next offseason.

    With those 4 moves (or non-moves) they’ve dropped $33M. The Mauer extension will eat up about $10M of that (guessing he’ll make roughly $10M more per year than he is now). So, in other words, let’s hope for a good one this year Twins fan cuz we may not see a opening day roster this good ever again at Target Field.

  8. The Twins picked up Cuddyer’s option for 2011 at $10.5 Mil. Wouldn’t be surprised if he is traded after the 2010 season no matter how good a season he has. The Twins have strong OF prospects in Revere, Hicks, Tosoni, Benson, etc. that all could be ready by 2011.

    I also think that it is very possible they could trade Nathan as well. I love Nathan, and I think he is the 2nd best closer in MLB. However, he is set to make $11.25 Mil in 2011 and has an option for $12.5 in 2012. With the way Gardenhire uses closers, the Twins could definitely survive without Nathan and use his salary to improve the team in other ways.

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