Are the Washington Nationals turning their attention to free agent second baseman Adam Kennedy because they've decided Orlando Hudson won't budge from his reported demands for somewhere around $9M per, or is DC GM Mike Rizzo attempting to force Hudson's hand by expressing interest in another option? The questions that the Nationals, or any other team with interest in acquiring Orlando Hudson, have to be asking themselves were summed up in several articles recently, including one the other day by MLB.com's Bill Ladson entitled, "Nationals have interest in Kennedy", where Mr. Ladson mentions Hudson's contract demands, his injury history and his '09 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which ended with Hudson on the bench as Ronnie Belliard arrived in a trade from DC and replaced Hudson as the Dodgers' starting second baseman as LA charged into the postseason.
I figured the easiest way to get some answers to these questions would be to ask a Dodgers fan, so I shot an email over to the SB Nation's LA Dodgers site, True Blue LA, asking site manager Eric Stephen if he would be willing to share his opinion on the following subjects:
• Why LA skipper Joe Torre went with Ronnie Belliard over Hudson late last season?
• If there were any lingering signs of Hudson's wrist issues?
• If Hudson is worth anything more than a 1-year deal?
• Check out True Blue LA's Eric Stephen's responses after the JUMP...
Federal Baseball (FB): Why did LA skipper Joe Torre decide to go with Ronnie Belliard over Hudson late last season?
True Blue LA: The decision to bench Hudson for Belliard was perplexing at the time, and quite shocking. It essentially boiled down to Belliard having a hot hand and Torre sticking to it. I had the opportunity to cover some games in 2009, and by the end of September, Joe Torre bristled at some of the continued questioning. Here is what I wrote on September 20:
"Orlando Hudson is sitting today, for the eighth time in 19 games since the arrival of Ronnie Belliard. Torre said he is getting Hudson rest, the rest he didn't get earlier in the season. Hudson started the season with the club, which was not expected, and he was playing so well that he didn't get a day off until game number 55. Torre wouldn't say whether or not Hudson was injured, noting "you can't get him to admit anything" anyway, and that the season was simply taking its toll on the O-Dog. When asked whether or not Hudson was the starting second baseman going forward, Torre bristled, saying "He's not starting today."
It was assumed that Torre had actually discussed this with Hudson, but it came out after the season that Hudson was miffed that Torre basically never sat him down to tell him of his benching.
FB: Were there any lingering signs of Hudson's wrist issues?
True Blue LA: Hudson appeared to be healthy, but he did show signs of wear and tear as the season wore on. He hit just .253/.325/.385 from June 1 through the end of the season after the hot start (.332/.407/.469 in the first 2 months). He was banged up a bit in late August and early September, and his occasional days of rest after Belliard arrived seemed temporary at first. Personally, I was pissed when the Dodgers declined to offer him arbitration, just because I didn't think there was any chance of Hudson accepting and coming back to play for Torre, even if it would have meant a $8-10m payday or so.
FB: Is Hudson worth anything more than a 1-year deal?
True Blue LA: Given the market for 2B, I don't think it would be prudent to give Hudson a multi-year deal; maybe a one-year deal plus an option would work. I am a fan of Hudson; he is a non-stop talker and it's pretty funny to see up close. I went to spring training last year, and just standing by the practice field there was never a time when Hudson stopped chattering. He is definitely a player worth rooting for from a personality standpoint, and he's still quite a productive player.
-- Thanks, Eric.
• Summing up: Last season, Hudson, who turned 32 on December 12th, put up a .287 AVG with a .357 OBP and a .417 SLG, 35 doubles, 6 triples, 9 HR's and 62 RBI's in 149 games and 551 AB's. The 8-year MLB veteran, a 1997 43rd Round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, signed with LA last year following a 3-year stint in Arizona in which he hit .294/.365/.448 with a combined 91 doubles, 21 triples, 33 HR's and 171 RBI's in 403 games. Bill James, according to Fangraphs.com, is predicting much the same for Hudson, a .280 AVG, .353 SLG, .409 SLG, 33 doubles, 4 triples, 10 HR's and 61 RBI's with 7 stolen bases. (ed. note - "Anderson Hernandez, Alberto Gonzalez and Ronnie Belliard, who played the bulk of the time at second, produced a combined .255 AVG with 32 doubles, 6 triples, 7 HR's, 78 RBI's and 8 stolen bases.")