Orlando Hudson has been a source of great frustration for Padre fans. I wrote a piece a few weeks ago about the benefits of releasing Hudson. Well, Hudson has at least shown some signs of life, while his middle-infield counterpart Jason Bartlett has continued to steal money. Bartlett has been pathetic offensively, and just as bad defensively. When you take a look at defensive statistics, Bartlett has committed five errors, and has a pathetic fielding percentage of .940. If you use UZR as a method of analyzing defensive prowess, Bartlett is -16.1 for the season. Essentially, both of these stats say Bartlett has terrible range, and when he does get to the ball, he plays shortstop like Venus De Milo.
The problem with Bartlett, is that pesky vesting option he has for 2013. Bartlett has a guaranteed salary of 2013–if he reaches 432 plate appearances. If the Padres continue to play Bartlett, he will continue to rob the Padres blind, minus the pistol and ski mask. According to Dan Hayes of the North County Times, Bartlett and Hudson are not in the Padres plans for 2013. Hudson’s $8 million option will surely be declined, but the more Bartlett plays, the more likely he is to return to San Diego next year.
The Padres have a few options in this dilemma. They can continue to play Bartlett, and hope he shows some of the brillance he displayed in year’s past. They can attempt to trade him, although that will likely result in opposing GM’s questioning the sobriety of Josh Byrnes. In order to save some money, the Padres should just simply count their losses, and release Bartlett now. Sure, they will be eating a large sum of cash, but it may be necessary, in order to have flexibility for next season.
The option of releasing Bartlett seems more plausible now, especially with the Ernesto Frieri deal. The Padres acquired infielder Alexi Amarista, who is close to being big-league ready. The deal gives the Padres another name in the middle infield hat, and seems to expedite the departure of the aforementioned starting infielders. Amarista will make no one forget about Ozzie Smith, but he surely cannot be any worse than Bartlett has been been this year.
Personally, this is a difficult post to write for me, because I was so pro-Bartlett, when the Padres pulled the trigger on this deal. Perhaps Bartlett was a one-year wonder, or the affects of Petco National Park were just too much for him to overcome. Either way, a parting of ways would be beneficial to both parties at this point. It would also allow the Padres to examine the infielders they have in the minors, without sacrificing the on-field product.