I have been following the Padres since 1994, when I was a small child. Through the years, I have seen the team lose more than they have won, and I have seen certain players who have drawn the ire of fans. However, I cannot recall a player who has been as universally panned as Orlando Hudson.
When the Padres signed the O-Dog prior to the 2011 season, I was excited. I thought the Padres were getting an All-Star 2nd baseman, who was a plus defender. Sure, his 2010 year with the Minnesota Twins was less than stellar, but I figured he would be an upgrade over the departed David Eckstein.
Instead, Hudson battled injuries, and never seemed to be healthy. In addition to the injuries, he developed a reputation for being one of the first players to leave the park after games, and many in the San Diego media reported that Hudson was a “cancer” in the clubhouse. Hudson also infamously forgot how many outs there were in a game last year, and later had a chuckle about his fielding faux pas.
For the 2011 season, Hudson put up a triple slash line of .246/.329/.352, with the average and slugging percentage marking new career-lows. His defense was also subpar, as his range did not seem to be what it once was. The Padres did not get a great return on their $4 million investment in 2011.
Fast forward to 2012, and Hudson has done nothing to instill the confidence of the Friar Faithful. Hudson is only 4 for his 35, and has only started 9 of the Padres first 12 games this season. The optimist will point to Hudson’s former All-Star pedigree, and the fact that he has battled groin injuries all spring. The pessimist(me) will say that Hudson’s days as a quality Major Leaguer are behind him, and 2011 was the beginning of the end. Perhaps Bud Black believes that Andy Parrino is a spark plug who might be able to give the aging veteran a few days off during a long season. For what it is worth, the Padres are 2-0 when Parriano starts at 2nd, and 1-8 when Hudson does.
Of course, the baseball season is long, and 34 at-bats is too small a sample size, but Hudson is obviously not a long-term option at 2nd, and there are younger, cheaper alternatives with more upside. Parrino has looked good in the first few weeks of the year, and the Padres still have Everth Cabrera in AAA, and Logan Forsythe, who should be returning from injury in the near future.
The main obstacle in the “ditch Hudson” campaign is cost. The Padres owe Hudson $5 million this year, and hold an $8 million option for 2013, with a $2 million option for 2013. The Padres are not likely to eat $7 million, and the Hudson has negative trade value at this point. As unpopular as Hudson may be in San Diego, he is not likely to go anywhere. However, it is clear to me, that he is not the Padres best option at 2nd now, or in the future.