The O-Dog is here, what does it mean?

The O-Dog is here, what does it mean?
Witness ODog's athleticism // Lenny Ignelzi, Associated Press

Those that saw Peter Gammons' initial tweet...

The irrepressible ODog says he's going to sign with the White Sox.

— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) May 19, 2012

...and worried for a second that the team had plans to employ Larenz Tate to reprise his role as a homicidal youth from Menace II Society, might be pleasantly relieved to find they merely signed a past-his-prime middle infielder for the league minimum.

Contract Analysis

Hudson's contract is utterly harmless.  He's being brought on for the league minimum while San Diego pays him the rest of the $5.5 million he's owed this season.  The Sox are on the hook for Hudson's travel and equipment, the Padres are bankrolling his luxury purchases.

The major drawback to veteran reserves is the few extra million dollars they usually require; that's not present here.

Expected Performance

Hudson's been a league-average bat his entire career.  His weighted-runs created for his career is 100--which is exactly average.  That's perhaps a disappointing return for those who were excited about him as a prospect over a decade ago, but is a mighty fine thing to find hanging around in May.

Of course, there's a reason he's available.  Hudson was hitting .211/.260/.317 this year in San Diego, with the accompanying strikeout spike and walk decline that players have when their skills are evaporating.  He's also 34, which is in the age group where every slump carries the possibility of permanence.

Take this succinct summary from Padres' blog Gaslamp Ball on why Hudson's time in the Bay was at an end.

Hudson and his twitter account were a pain in the ass last year, but this year he was quiet for the most part, especially his bat. Just like the balls thrown to him, he'll be missed.

Hudson's really had no more than a bad 35 games this season with San Diego, whose organizational situation (stuck in the mire) might have had as much to do with their decision to ditch the aging keystone as anything else.  But as CBS' Matt Snyder put it, "it's entirely possible he's washed up."

Role

The White Sox have an obvious need at 3rd base since Brent Morel is probably DL bound, and Orlando Hudson is obviously a 2nd basemen.  This will need some clarification.

Robin?

"(Third base is) probably more of where he would play with Gordon (Beckham) being at second," Ventura said. "He might be able to fill in there later, give (Beckham) a day off here or there."

It wouldn't have made sense for Hudson to represent a challenge to Beckham, who just received a vote of confidence of sorts with his move to the #2 spot in the batting order.  It might effectively be a vote of no-confidence in Eduardo Escobar, who would possibly--and deservedly--be the odd man out when Morel returns from injury.  Eduardo's bat is simply not ready.

Even if Hudson continues his moribund hitting, he qualifies as a welcome upgrade from the current 3rd base situation for the Sox.  The issue is how he'll adjust to a different part of the field.

3rd Base Adjustment

A highly-decorated 2nd basemen (four Gold Gloves), Hudson should have the necessary athleticism for the position even in his advancing years, and Jim covered the success the Sox have had with guiding players through adjusting to 3rd over the years.

But he's moving to the opposite side of the diamond, and a lack of arm strength is a common reason for prospects to get moved to 2nd.

The Fan Scouting Report shows that Hudson's arm is regarded as more accurate than powerful, so he may need to take a page out of Robin Ventura's old book, and aggressively charge every ball to reduce his throwing distance, rather than the 'sit back and fire' method employed by Morel.

Verdict

The lack of real investment makes this no-lose situation.  The bar for performance at 3rd base is impossibly low, and if Hudson has any kind of steam left at all in him, he's an upgrade.

Tip of the hat to Fornelli at South Side Asylum for predicting the move.

 

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