It Must Be Later Because the Player Was Named

When the Arizona Diamondbacks traded Jon Garland to the Los Angeles Dodgers the deal was for the proverbial “player to be named later”. Within hours of the announced deal there were rumors that the Diamondbacks would receive infielder Tony Abreu. This would potentially fulfill the Diamondbacks need for a second baseman.

Abreu is a highly touted 25 year-old second baseman that has had a lot of success at the minor league level similar to some of the other Diamondbacks young core players such as Chris Young, Chris Snyder, and Gerardo Parra.

In six minor league season Abreu accumulated 2063 at-bats and has a career .312 average a .351 on base percentage. He has played a total of 65 games at the major league level with a .270 average and an OBP of .317. Abreu is a slick fielding infielder with experience at second base, third base, and shortstop.

So if it had been rumored that Abreu would be the player the Diamondbacks would receive, what took so long? Well, Abreu was in the midst of a grievance with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Earlier this season Abreu was brought up from Triple-A. During his stint with the Dodgers he was injured but rather than putting him on the disabled list Abreu was sent back to the minors. This of course messed with his major league service time which ultimately determines when a player will be able to become arbitration eligible and finally a free agent.

orlandohudsonThe number of days involved would mean Abreu could be arbitration eligible as soon as the end of next season meaning the Diamondbacks could be on the hook for a lot more salary than they expected when the trade was first announced.

It took until this week for the grievance to conclude with a compromise between the Dodgers and Abreu where Tony would probably not be eligible for arbitration until after the 2011 season. With that behind us the question is whether Tony Abreu is the Diamondbacks answer at second base?

The knock on Abreu has not been his talent, he is a valuable commodity who produces when he is in the lineup. The problem has been keeping him healthy to remain in the lineup. Throughout his career he has suffered several injuries mostly lower body. Whether it be hamstring, groin, or quadriceps it always seems to be something.

Given the plague of injuries that the Diamondbacks suffered this season does it really make sense to take a gamble on an injury prone infielder? Both Augie Ojeda and Ryan Roberts have shown they are more than capable of handling the duties of second base and would be just as cost efficient as Abreu.

Maybe the Diamondbacks are just trying to add some depth but it seems as though they received another Roberts or Rusty Ryal type of player but less durable.

Given the lack of playing time that the Los Angeles Dodgers are giving second baseman Orlando Hudson, perhaps the Diamondbacks should revisit their decision not to pursue Hudson. With Hudson scheduled to be a free agent after the season ends, it is looking more and more likely that he will not return to Dodger blue.

General Partner Ken Kendrick and General Manager Josh Byrnes have already hinted that outfielder Eric Byrnes may not return. It was always rumored that the Diamondbacks could have signed either Byrnes or Hudson but not both. This may be a situation where the team gets a mulligan and can erase what looks like a bad decision.

Given the Diamondbacks propensity to load up on pitchers who throw a sinker or in general are ground ball pitchers, having a sure hand like Orlando Hudson would make a tremendous difference in the field.

Hudson is also looked upon as a positive clubhouse force and could help light a fire under the young players as he did during his earlier stint with Arizona. If there is indeed no rift between the Diamondbacks baseball operations people and Hudson as each side has stated then this would be the perfect time to step up and bring back one of the best second basemen in the game.

Given the defensive problems that the Diamondbacks suffered from last year they clearly miss Hudson. And quite frankly AJ Hinch would sleep a lot better at night knowing he could pencil in a gold glove winner at second base especially if the Diamondbacks insist on continuing the Brandon Allen experiment like they are suggesting.

In his brief time with the Diamondbacks this season Allen showed hands of stone at first base and a lot of indecision when it came to fielding his position. Having Orlando Hudson’s range would make Allen look like less of a liability in the field that he does presently.

You could then potentially use Hudson as a mentor to either Roberts or Abreu to build for the future or at a minimum spell Reynolds, Drew, and Hudson to keep everyone fresh. You also have a decent backup should Hudson get injured. Hudson showed by signing a one-year contract last season that he was willing to accept a short-term contract if necessary and it seemed to be a price the Diamondbacks could afford. The economy doesn’t appear to have changed dramatically from last year to this year so it might be worth a shot exploring.


3 Comments

  1. Orlando Hudson is no longer a gold glove caliber 2nd basemen. For the last two seasons, according to FanGraphs, he is at this point, a below average 2nd basemen when it comes to range. The same thoughts are shared by people that scout the game, such as Keith Law. Also, Hudson did not take a $3.38mil deal that everybody initially thought. His deal included a lot of incentive money that was tied into at-bats, and as a result, he earned $7.18 mil this year.

    Considering Roberts is not a young guy (he’s 29), I think he serves as a good short-term solution in case Abreu isn’t ready to contribute full-time at the major league level next year. How about using the money and roster spot for another veteran bat that could platoon with Brandon Allen in case he’s not ready to be a full-time starter?

    • Whether he wins a gold glove or not his range is still greater than either Rusty Ryal or Ryan Roberts and will be for the next two years. Even at $7.18 million he would still have cost the Diamondbacks less than Eric Byrnes. The Diamondbacks had targeted money for either Byrnes or Hudson and choose Byrnes, a decision the team has publicly admitted was a mistake.

      I don’t believe Abreu is ready to take over at second base for 2010 and given his history of leg injuries I question whether the Diamondbacks will ever get more than 140 games a year out of him meaning they will always need to keep a middle infielder on the roster, a spot that could be used for your veteran bat.

      The problem I see with Ryan Roberts is not necessarily his age it is his mental discipline. I saw on more than one occasion that he let the other team or the fans get to him and as a result misplays crept into his game. This is not what I was hoping to see from that position next season.

      Even if Hudson lost a step he still has more range than either of the three alternatives. He also provides a switch hitter who is still capable of hitting at or near .300. I don’t think you can discount the leadership qualities he possesses either. He keeps the team loose and lets the younger players know when they are out of line something the team lacked last season.

  2. shibum78

    Hi Jeff,

    when it comes to fielding metrics, there are factors to consider that don’t necessarily make it 100% accurate, but over the course of 2-3 seasons, it’s a good indicator of a defensive players range. I say this because I’m not 100% convinced on fangraphs measurement of 4.4 for Roberts range as it was only for this year, but Hudson the last 3 years has been 0.5, -7.6, and -2.9, and factoring in age, Roberts IS the better fielder at this point and for the next few years.

    Obviously looking back, Byrnes’ contract is ridiculous and I wish they had not given him that money and signed Hudson instead, but unfortunately, Moorad was going for the fan favorite.

    Concerning “mental discipline”, I guess this is an area where a fan such as yourself and a fan such as myself will never agree. I like to look at objective measures and do not believe in “clutch” or “mental discipline”. My reasoning is that it takes a whole heck of a lot of mental discipline to reach the majors, so it’s difficult for me to fathom players getting rattled because of fans.

    When it comes to leadership, again, something difficult to quantify, but I don’t necessarily discount it. I think it’s difficult also to say that Hudson would have made a difference. Isn’t that why we brought Clark back? Just my opinion, but I think the resources can be better spent on another bat and platoon for 1st base that brings leadership since I think 1st base is a bigger question mark than 2nd. Now, if Conor is 100% and can spend time at 1st against the lefties, that provides us more flexibility, but I think even then, starting pitching and a possible veteran bullpen arm should be more pressing matters than 2nd base.

    FYI, this past year was my 1st year with full season tickets and I was in section 113. I’m hoping to move over to section 114 this year, perhaps we can have a spirited chat during a game next year =)

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