The Padres and Their Middle Infield Mess
Before the 2012 regular season started, many wondered how much production San Diego would get out of their Second Basemen and Shortstops, because Orlando Hudson, Jason Bartlett, and all other Middle Infielders which played in 2011 struggled so mightily to produce consistently on Offense. I had an optimistic attitude on the matter however, and figured that with a somewhat bolstered lineup in 2012, Bartlett, Hudson, and their substitutions on off-days would be able to relax and produce at a steady pace near the bottom of the lineup. Unfortunately, 2012 has been an even bigger disaster for Hudson, Bartlett, and the rest of San Diego’s options at Middle Infield, and the Padres have received almost no production from those positions from Offensive and sometimes Defensive standpoints all season long.
Hudson has been considered by many to be disappointment since he got to San Diego, and it now appears that his welcome has been worn out due to his inconsistent nature at the plate during his 1.2 seasons with the Padres. In 2011, Hudson posted career low numbers in Batting Average (.246), Slugging Percentage (.352), and On Base Plus Slugging Percentage (.681) as well, and it appears things have not gotten on the right track this season. Through 32 games and 111 At-Bats, Hudson is batting only .207, with a .254 On Base Percentage, and a career-low .324 Slugging Percentage.
Add to those stats the fact that Hudson has a 24 to 7 Strike Out to Walk ratio, and is due $5.5 million this season, it is no wonder why the Padres have considered getting rid of him. To be fair to Hudson though, he can hold his own out at Second Base, and from a Defensive standpoint he is still a solid fielder and has a slick glove and solid range for a 34 year old. The question is however: “Do the Padres think that keeping Hudson’s inconsistent bat and contract are worth it?”
Hudson however is currently leading all of the Padres’ Middle Infielders in most offensive categories. Doing even worse than Hudson this season is Shortstop Jason Bartlett, and it seems that he cannot even buy a hit this season. Much like Hudson, Bartlett had a down year in 2011, and hit only .245, had an On Base Percentage of .307, and a Slugging Percentage of .308. Probably the worst stat of all was Bartlett’s .615 OPS number, and 2011 was a season where Bartlett set a career-high number in At-Bats with 618. Nevertheless, Bartlett still had a respectable 23 Stolen Bases, and clubbed 22 Doubles, and it seemed like he could still be a solid bottom of the order option for San Diego in their lineup in 2012. I was wrong, oh so very wrong.
Bartlett has been nothing short of dreadful to watch at the plate this season. And as bad as Hudson’s output has been this season, Bartlett’s has been even more meager. While you might think that Bartlett’s .136 Batting Average (11 Hits in 81 At-Bats) and 26 to 11 Strike Out to Walk ratio statistics are bad, his On Base Percentage (.237), Slugging Percentage (.198), and On Base Plus Slugging Percentage (.434) are even worse. As for his fielding, Bartlett’s Fielding Percentage is only .949, and he has committed 5 Errors already. Worst of all however, Bartlett, like Hudson, is due to make $5.5 million dollars this season. And with that type of production, San Diego simply cannot afford to keep a high paying (for them) player on their roster, period.
One would think that with Hudson and Bartlett’s poor play that a youngster would take advantage of the opportunity and seize playing time outright from the two veteran. Sadly, Andy Parrino has received the playing time, and even worse, Parrino’s play has been just as consistent with theirs: not very good.
After a strong Opening Series against Los Angeles that saw him hit his first career Home Run, it has been a rocky season for Parrino at the plate. On April 25th Parrino had a .320 Batting Average, a .414 On Base Percentage, and a .520 Slugging Percentage, since that time however it has been a complete and total nose dive. Parrino has gone 3 for his last 33, his Batting Average has plummeted to .190, his On Base Percentage has dropped to .302, and his Slugging Percentage has fallen to .291. Worst of all, he has yet to log an RBI since hitting his Home Run back on April 8th.
Parrino’s fielding also has been spotty, and he has committed 4 Errors in only 12 games at Shortstop, and has a .920 Fielding Percentage overall! As I alluded to before, the veteran’s bad starts should have been Parrino’s “golden-ticket,” and provided him with the perfect opportunity to shine, receive more playing time, and in turn solidified himself a full-time roster spot. Now however, Parrino continues to struggle, and it should not be long before San Diego explores other options for a backup role at both spots.
If the Padres allocated barely any money to Hudson and Bartlett, I honestly could care less about their lack of production and overall play. However, the fact that so many dollars for a small-payroll franchise have been spent on two players which have underperformed over the course of 1.2 seasons is what really sticks in my craw.
Hopefully the Padres can at least ride the storm out to the end of the season with the guys they have on their roster in the big leagues, or in Tucson waiting in the wings now. Best-case scenario would be either Logan Forsythe, Everth Cabrera or newly acquired Alexi Amarista coming up this season and finally proving they are consistent big league hitters, because either one would be a fine addition at either Middle Infield spot. If neither one steps up though, us Friar fans will likely have to wait until Jedd Gyorko and/or Cory Spangenberg make their debuts with the Padres later rather than sooner. Both prospects probably will not be ready until 2014, and San Diego will be forced to find some at least short-term answers until that time ultimately comes.
Many on this site have been strong proponents recently for the Padres to release Bartlett and Hudson, and some Padres fans were even on the bandwagon for their release before the season started. In March, I had a “wait and see” approach before I decided on whether or not to be on the “release Hudson and Bartlett.” As I stated previously, I figured that 2012 would bring them good fortune as they were settled into their new team, new stadium, and had a better lineup around them. At this point though, it would not upset me if one or both of them were gone.
While I personally believe that one (either one, it doesn’t matter) should stay for depth purposes, having two high priced players, who are in their mid-30’s, that produce at a low level offensively, is absolutely asinine. I am now just crossing my fingers and hoping that this situation gets better. San Diego can use any sort of help in the Middle Infield, and I earnestly hope it comes sooner rather than later, because the state of that positional unit is pretty ugly at this point.
Statistics Courtesy of: http://www.baseball-reference.com/
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