Should the Cubs Have Signed Orlando Hudson?
Los Angeles Dodgers general manager has made some questionable moves in the past - *cough* Juan Pierre *cough* - but you have to admire his creativity with contracts. The latest such deal is for Orlando Hudson and today we get the details via MLBTR and Tony Jackson of the L.A. Daily News. Ultimately it boils down to $3M in guaranteed money this year, $380K in bonus money that has been deferred WITHOUT INTEREST until an unspecified time and up to $5M in incentive bonuses, some of which are also deferred without interest if they are reached.
Early on in the offseason, I hypothesized that the Cubs would get in on Hudson, but there was never much more than a whisper and that came late in the offseason. When the Cubs dealt Mark DeRosa to the Indians, I think it was clear that they didn't have $5M or more for a second basemen this season. The days and weeks dragged on and by February Hudson was going to take whatever he could get and that seems to be $3 to $8M, much of it not due until some ambigous future date. The Dodgers did have to give up their first round pick next year for the privilege of having Hudson turn double plays for them next year and at number 17, that's a pretty steep price. The Dodgers though did get a second round and supplemental pick when the Braves signed Derek Lowe, so not as big as a loss as it could have become for them.
The question though is if Hudson would have made the Cubs better?
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Offensively, the advantage goes to Mike Fontenot, but when you factor in playing time and defense it superficially appears that Hudson has the advantage.
Then we have the all important defensive side of the diamond. Rate2 is a Baseball Prospectus metric on the same scale as OPS+ where 100 is average. UZR/150 is Ultimate Zone Rating defined as the number of runs below or above average per 150 defensive games. Generally, the systems tend to agree with each other, but there's a substantial disparity on Hudson in 2008.
My eyes tell me that Hudson is by far the superior defender and I doubt there's many people in baseball that would disagree. I also tend to believe that, like any metric, small sample size tends to skew the results and Mike Fontentot just hasn't played that many games at second base and I've seen nothing to justify that he's one of the best defensive second basemen in the game as those numbers suggest.
But I do think it's close enough between Fontenot and Hudson that the Cubs didn't have to spend the extra money here, that is until they decided that Aaron Miles was plan B and Lou would try to get him 400 AB's. Now I'm wishing that Hendry stole one from Ned Colletti's contract playbook.