Orlando Hudson (B-)
(.283/.357/.417 9hr 62rbi)
It’s one thing to get off to a hot start, and it’s quite another to introduce yourself to your new team by hitting for the cycle in the home opener, isn’t it? Despite the fact that I was so fervently against giving Arizona a first round pick to sign him in the offseason, even I had to give him props when he hit .332/.407/.469 through the first two months of the season.
But there was a big problem with that outstanding start to his Dodger career, and it’s that his amazing first impression seemed to color everyone’s impression of him for the rest of the season. I started getting worried about him as far back as July, when I was doing our mid-season reviews and giving him credit for his nice first half. In the same review, I pointed out:
So why just the B grade? Because while Hudson may have made an enormous first impression (come on, a cycle in your first home game for your new team? Who does that?) I think it may have obscured just how horrible he’s been over the second half of the first half. (Shut up, that’s a thing.)
For some reason baseball-reference hasn’t updated to include yesterday’s games yet, so I am missing his 2-homer outburst in that latter section, but still: the difference is glaring. You’d like to think that was the start of something, because at some point he’s going to need to turn this around, or all of the good feelings of April are going to dissipate.
Hudson picked it up some from his horrible June stretch, but an OPS that had been over .900 in May still fell to as low as .768 in September. With Ronnie Belliard’s contributions upon arriving, it was absolutely the right decision to bench Hudson for him. So what we ended up with was a year that was average overall (104 OPS+, exactly in line with his previous years), but was put up by two completely different players. But hey, at least he cost a first round pick! Let’s hope that can be recouped by offering him arbitration, especially since in regards to any possibility of a return next year, I’d say this quote from Baseball Prospectus about sums it up:
Fine by me, because he was good, but not great. Thanks for the season, Orlando, especially for being a complete professional about being benched (Hudson has always had a fantastic reputation in that sense), and best of luck in your non-Dodger future. But mostly, best of luck to the Dodgers in terms of recouping the draft picks and getting more bang out of second base next year.
Ronnie Belliard (A)
(.351/.398/.636 5hr 17rbi)
It’s tempting to compare Belliard to the last late-season veteran import from Washington, Marlon Anderson, but what Anderson did was so far out of whack that it’s hard to compare anything to that. Still, Belliard was fantastic upon his arrival in LA – especially compared to the less-than-enthusiastic welcome I gave him:
Well… I guess? I suppose this is related to Ken Gurnick’s report that the Dodgers were looking for a run-producing bat off the bench, but I’m not exactly sure that this qualifies.
Still, I am proud that I was able to point how hot he’d been in Washington out:
Though Belliard’s had a few roughly league-average seasons, he’s hitting a brutal .247/.297/.376 this season, almost exclusively as a second baseman and pinch-hitter. To be fair, since his OPS cratered at .459 (!!) on July 1, Belliard’s hit a nice .323/.380/.475 in 35 games (20 starts).
Which is basically the line that he was able to produce in LA, just with even more added power. Joe Torre got a lot of heat for starting Belliard over Hudson in the playoffs, but when one guy is so hot and the other is so cold – and there’s not a huge difference between them anyway – you can’t be faulted for that.
For next year, I’m not really dying to have Belliard back – his performance in LA is hardly sustainable – but it wouldn’t surprise me all that much if he won people over with his hot September.
Tony Abreu (so long!)
(.250/.455/.250 0hr 1rbi)
Ugh. This one is going to kill me. Well, gee, let’s see. You’ve got a giant hole at second base opening up after the season. You’ve got a talented young player who’s finally overcome injuries and is dominating at AAA, and even has already had a taste of the majors, to boot.
And… you trade that young player to a division rival just so you can get 6 decent starts that you probably didn’t really need, especially when Jon Garland didn’t even appear in the playoffs.
Look, Abreu may not be a superstar, though there’s something to be said about a middle infielder who has a .916 OPS in AAA in 2007, misses all of 2008, and then returns to be even better with a .999 AAA OPS. (Yes, I know Vegas and Albuquerque inflate offensive stats somewhat – still, those are good numbers.) For 6 relatively meaningless starts of Garland, you’ve just handed this player to the Diamondbacks. I hated the trade from Day 1, saying:
Look, if it’s Abreu, I’m going to be really unhappy. He’s a 24-year-old with a .991 OPS in AAA this year, and looks to finally have put his career back on track after two years of injuries. With Orlando Hudson headed back into free agency this offseason, I was strongly in favor of letting him walk and giving Abreu a crack at the second base job. Now – again, if it’s him – the Dodgers have just handed a division rival an excellent prospect for 5 mediocre starts of Jon Garland?
Survey says… We’ll of course have more to say on this once we know who the player is going back to Arizona. Right now, the feeling is more “worried” with a good chance of “horrified“.
Yep. “Horrified” is about right. What an awful move. Then again, with all we’ve learned about the issues in the owners’ box, this might be another instance of Colletti’s hands being tied by cheap management. The D-Backs took on all of Garland’s remaining salary for the chance to get back a better prospect, just like how the Indians did for Casey Blake to get Carlos Santana. Please, why won’t they sell?
Next: Casey Blake’s beard! Mark Loretta’s corpse! Blake DeWitt’s frequent flyer miles! It’s third base!