Feb 05

More diverging views on Orlando Hudson

There seems to be little escaping the fact that Orlando Hudson, of all people, has become a polarizing player. Hudson is headed to Minnesota on a one-year contract worth a reported $5 million, and as Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com notes, observers are of two minds about him.

… Hudson remains an asset in the opinions of most scouts and executives.

(Joe) Torre obviously felt differently in September, and some evaluators believe that Hudson no longer is the hitter or defender that he was before undergoing surgery on his left wrist in August 2008.

That, however, might be too simple a view.

Opponents adjusted to Hudson last season by pounding him inside. Perhaps Hudson, a switch-hitter, was unable to counter because of lingering soreness in his wrist. But one rival executive notes that Hudson was vulnerable on the inner third even before his injury.

Defensively, Hudson remains outstanding on popups and above average to his glove side. He is weaker to his backhand, but again his wrist might not be the only explanation. A second executive says that even before Hudson suffered his injury, his defense was in decline.

“He used to be a difference-maker,” the exec says. “Now he’s a tick above average.”

Still, from the Twins’ perspective, the package looks pretty good. …

Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes the following:

… No doubt Hudson is a better player than (Luis) Castillo and, thus, would have helped the Mets more. But Dodgers officials were actually disappointed in Hudson’s overall game and, remember, Joe Torre benched Hudson in favor of Ronnie Belliard late in the year. They were quickly surprised that Hudson was not faster with a few inside the organization derisively turning his nickname from O-Dog to Slow-Dog. They also came to believe that his defensive reputation was overinflated; that he was fantastic on pop-ups, but very ordinary on grounders. …

Meanwhile, ESPN.com researcher Mark Simon offers this:

The Twins will like Hudson’s baserunning instincts. A couple of examples in combing through the numbers on Baseball-Reference.com – Hudson has scored from first base on a double 16 times in 24 opportunities over the last three seasons (the other eight times, he held at third). That’s a 67 percent success rate, significantly better than the MLB rate, which typically hovers from 40-44 percent.

– In that same span, he’s gone first to third on a single 37 times in 84 attempts (he’s stopped at second on all but one of the other occasions). The 44 percent success rate is better than the MLB rate, which ranges from 30 to 33 percent

– He’s scored from second on singles 33 times in 49 chances since 2007 (stopping at third on all but one of the other occasions). That’s 67 percent- slightly better than the MLB average, which is around 60-64 percent, depending on the year.

– Hudson is 20-for-21 in stolen base attempts of second base over the last three seasons.

There’s got to be a middle ground in there with Hudson somewhere. Given the doubts about him and the price for which he signed, which was about $3-5 million less than what he might have won in a salary arbitration case with the Dodgers, maybe there’s more justification for the team not offering him salary arbitration than I originally allowed for. Thoughts are still in flux.

Feb 02

Joe Torre talks 2010 at Dodger dreamfield dedication

Joe Torre talked about a number of aspects of the upcoming season at the dedication of the Dodgers’ ninth Dreamfield, at the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com has details.

  • Torre plans to rest Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake more in 2010, and sees Reed Johnson also getting spot starts for Andre Ethier.
  • Torre spoke to Ramirez by phone last week. Ramirez is “anxious to get started.”
  • Scott Elbert might relieve, James McDonald might start.
  • Blake DeWitt will get a fair shot to win the second-base job. Torre said he isn’t very familiar with Jamey Carroll, but that hitting coach Don Mattingly and scouts “like him a lot.”

* * *

The Dodgers are mourning the passing of ticket operations manager Desiree Sanchez from breast cancer, Gurnick writes.  My sincere condolences to her family and friends.

Feb 02

Is Ethier still ascending?

“The best is yet to come for Andre Ethier.”  That’s a tantalizing quote, one that contrasts my knee-jerk assumption that Ethier can’t possibly improve on his 2009 campaign, from Baseball HQ via Memories of Kevin Malone. There are also some new thoughts about Dodger Stadium park effects.

Elsewhere …

  • Which is more valuable, a sixth position player on the bench or a 12th pitcher? Over the past year, I’ve come to think that for teams like the Dodgers whose starters don’t go deep into games, the extra pitcher is worth more. Dave Cameron offers some interesting pro and con arguments at Fangraphs.
  • It’s the makeover moment of the year for the Dodgers: Casey Blake, beardless. I have to keep reminding myself that the $1 million donation by Blake and his wife, Abbie, to Indianola, Iowa schools is a bigger deal.  But I have spent some time wondering whether looking younger will make Blake play younger. It’s completely logical, don’ t you think?
  • Vin Scully, Jaime Jarrin, Eric Karros and Ken Levine were among those receiving honors Monday from the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.
  • Vin Scully Is My Homeboy is very curious about whether the Dodgers will be showcasing a “55 since ’55” patch this year.