Earlier today, the San Diego Padres finally began the process of unconditionally releasing second baseman Orlando Hudson. He’d hit .211/.260/.317 across 131 plate appearances, which is lousy production even after adjusting for the PETCO Park effects. But for the previous nine seasons, he’d been as steady a second baseman as there is. Nine consecutive seasons of average production — or thereabouts — and often a hair above that. If my memory serves me right, second basemen generally hit their decline phase early — relative to other positions — so these 35 games of hitting woes are likely more than just a month-long slump.
But then you look at what the Giants have gotten from their second basemen this season: .197/.245/.204 in 150 plate appearances entering today. With that in mind, Hudson is an obvious target. At worst, he continues to hit as poorly as he has been hitting — which, overall, isn’t as terrible as it might seem. Considering he’s a middle infielder in the least hitter-friendly park in baseball, playing in a year when run-scoring has been very low, he hasn’t been that bad. In fact, Fangraphs has him at exactly replacement level. Best case scenario: he does what he’d done the previous nine years. Nothing fancy; just good old average production. Of course, the probable scenario is something in between that; maybe a 1 WAR/600 PA pace. He’s lost a step or two on defense, and his bat isn’t what it used to be, but that’s within reasonable reach for him. The Giants wouldn’t be on the hook for any of his contract, either; at league-minimum, there’s really no reason for the Giants not to pursue Hudson and sub him into the roster spot that Charlie Culberson is currently occupying.
Culberson, in fact, was the only position player in today’s starting lineup that didn’t have a hit or a walk; put Hudson in there instead, and things don’t look all that bad:
Blanco RF, Crawford SS, Cabrera LF, Posey C, Pagan CF, Belt 1B, Burriss 3B, Hudson 2B, Pitcher.
Especially a month from now when Pablo Sandoval returns at third base.
Speaking of which, what a much needed shot in the arm today’s game turned out to be. Is Gregor Blanco not the ideal leadoff hitter? That combination of on-base skills and speed is simply perfect. Meanwhile, Brandon Crawford actually came through at the plate today; Buster Posey and Brandon Belt combined to reach base six times in this game; and Angel Pagan more than doubled his walk total for the month of May with today’s performance.
Not the best outing from Matt Cain either, but he’s now got a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 54/10 on the season.
Anyway, an excellent victory today for the Giants. They’re still .500; if they were in the NL East, they’d be tied for last place. At this point, expectations should be tempered. But they probably have enough to hang in there — and with the proper adjustments and tinkering, perhaps make a legitimate run at the playoffs.