O-Dog? Oh no!Hudson would be a mistake for the Yankees
Earlier today, Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated wrote:
The Yankees are exploring a possible bid for free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson and are intrigued enough by Hudson's talent and reputation as an excellent clubhouse influence to bat around the possibilities of trading talented young second baseman Robinson Cano or even signing Hudson with the idea of moving him to center field.
Listen! Can you hear me screaming?
We've talked about the kind of offensive player Hudson is before. Let's try it again, this time in the context of center field. Last season, the average major league center fielder hit .268/.334/.420. Hudson batted .305/.367/.450 in 107 games, which looks great by comparison. This was not only a career best for Hudson, but the best of the three seasons he spent in Arizona, where he hit .294/.365/.448 overall.
That's not only better than what the average center fielder did last year, it's better than the average second baseman, who hit .276/.338/.409, and a lot better than Robinson Cano, who hit .271/.305/.410 in a season which seems to have ended his career in New York. Hudson is also an excellent glove at second. How well he might play center field remains to be seen, but (1) taking a multiple-Gold Glove winner at second and sticking him in center seems like a very odd application of resources, and (2) we should all remember how it went when the Mets put Juan Samuel in center field. If you're not old enough to remember, or simply forgot, try this experiment:
1. Push back from your desk and pretend you're a center fielder waiting for a fly ball.
2. Imagine you see the ball coming at you.
3. Think of something that really terrifies you.
4. Scream something like, "AAAAAAAAAGGGH!"
5. Knock over some plants, if you have any.
6. Watch as the imaginary ball hits the wall behind you.
7. Run into the wall.
8. Wait for the trainer to arrive. Or mom.
That's the defensive angle. The offensive one is not as simple. As I've discussed earlier this offseason when Hudson came up in previous rumors, he's not the hitter he appears to be. Chase Field (the former BOB, and what BOB wouldn't want to be a former BOB when they could be "Chase"?) loves the hitters. In 2008, Hudson hit .288/.337/.381 away from home. In 2007, it was .286/.379/.369; the year before the road rates were .254/.313/.421. At this stage, we have no idea if Yankee Stadium II (the one where Michael has Fredo killed) is going to be a dramatically different offensive environment from Yankee Stadium.
Assuming it's not, Hudson the Yankee is going to produce at those road levels, or possibly less given his turning 31 next month. In four seasons as a Blue Jay, Hudson hit .270/.328/.418. He's a bit more patient now, so perhaps the Yankees would get a few more walks out of him, but, all things remaining equal, that's the offensive player they're going to get someone not dramatically better than Cano as an offensive second baseman, someone who is a break-even proposition at best as an offensive center fielder. And that's without knowing if he can field.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have Brett Gardner, who is a good center fielder and should be able to hit well enough to hold the job without costing the Yankees anything except a minimum salary and meal money assuming he can keep his walk rate up. Remember, Gardner hit .294/.333/.412 in 25 games from August on. Again, par was .268/.334/.420. I suspect that the OBP could be higher, the batting average and slugging percentage a bit lower. It's a small sample, but this is what the lad can do. .275/.380/.390 with good defense will hold the Yankees just fine, without their having to resort to any kind of Hudsonian hocus-pocus. Self-deception is a river separating New York and New Jersey.
I'm too nervous about the election outcome to think clearly about baseball. It's difficult to cogitate on how the Mets might rid themselves of Luis Castillo (not by sending him to the Yankees, we pray) when the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is in a cliffhanger situation. I'll be on TEAM 990 talking hot stove baseball with Picard at 8:25 p.m. EST, but you know where my head and heart are. I might need a sedative tonight.
AND MORE FROM ME
Since last time at wholesomereading.com : Joe the Plumber is Lex the Luthor; Andy's Butterfly Manifesto #8; and continual panicky updates on the election... Warning: Politics!
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