Friday, February 5, 2010

Twins Bring "O-Dawg" Into the Mix

Many Twins' fans' prayers were answered late Thursday night when it was announced that they signed free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson to a one-year, $5M free agent contract.

The 32-year-old Hudson is an eight-year MLB veteran who spent last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, batting .283/.357/.417 in 631 plate appearances with 35 doubles, 9 HR, and 62 RBI. He also won his fourth Gold Glove award, despite recording an UZR/150 of -3.7. After starting out last off-season seeking at least a three-year deal, the free agent market for his services dried up and he signed a one-year deal with LA for $3M. The events played out similarly this off-season, although he will make more money with the Twins.

For his career, Hudson is a .282/.348/.431 hitter and has won four Gold Gloves at second base, where he has recorded a career UZR/150 of 2.6.

Hudson's signing solidifies the lineup both offensively and defensively. His defense at second base is solid, although ESPN's Keith Law thinks it is over-rated, and the UZR/150 suggests the same. Still, he is as good as option defensively as the Twins currently have and he'll do well catching the ball. At the plate, he is superior to internal options Nick Punto, Alexi Casilla, or Matt Tolbert, and is a good #2 hitter to add to a potent lineup.

If the Twins started the season today, here is their probable batting order:
  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
  3. Joe Mauer, C
  4. Justin Morneau, 1B
  5. Jason Kubel, DH
  6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
  7. Delmon Young, LF
  8. J.J. Hardy, SS
  9. Nick Punto/Danny Valencia/Luke Hughes/Brendan Harris/Matt Tolbert, 3B
That's as good a lineup as the Twins have fielded in many years, and Buster Olney said the same a few days ago when Hudson's signing was speculated.

The Twins are likely done in the free agent marketplace, and rightfully so. They have an open spot at third base (as evidenced above), but are fine with any of the internal options listed. The same is true with the fifth starter's position, where internal candidates Brian Duensing, Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, and Jeff Manship are all in the mix and each would be adequate. The Twins' payroll will be at least $96M on opening day - a team record - and surely to go up once the Joe Mauer extension is announced.

The Mauer extension would be a perfect cap to a good week for the Twins, who spent money responsibly to add the perfect compliment to an already good lineup.

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