“I f***ed it up,” Hudson snapped after going 0-4 with a key error as the Sox lost 2-1 to the Cubs Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. “I lost the game for [Peavy], that’s it. The man threw a hell of a game, I lost it for him. Point blank. Case closed. We lost. My bad. That’s it.”
Orlando Hudson is nothing if not admirable in his willingness to fall on the sword, but it would be better if his self-flagellation was less appropriate. His lollipop throw to 1st put the deciding run on base in a 2-1 game Tuesday night, his 0 for 4 night at the plate couldn’t hide from key situations in the 9-hole, and since Jake Peavy vaguely hinted that it was Hudson’s fault, it made it less awkward for him to admit it.
Hudson was switched in a hurry to 3rd, so there should be some sympathy for his poor reactions and instincts at the hot corner. He also was cut by the Padres for his lack of offense, so expectations for him to hit that much better than the .167/.253/.282 line he’s put up in Chicago probably weren’t too realistic.
But those two concessions shave his margin for error down to pretty much nothing. No one wants to see mental lapses from the guy who’s only starting due to exigent circumstances.
Those circumstances are worth remembering too. Hudson wasn’t brought on to start for the rest of the season, he came on when Brent Morel was just sitting out to rest his back a bit, not shut down till after the All-Star break. He was only supposed to provide better emergency coverage than Brent Lillibridge and Eduardo Escobar, which speaks to the low standards for his performance but also the lack of commitment to be showed to him.
Hudson isn’t truly the most pressing problem–the Sox offense is still solidly in the top third of the AL while the pitching staff is in a more perilous state–but he’s the easiest to amend and improve upon.
Orlando is not Adam Dunn, nor Alex Rios; there’s no financial commitment that necessitates waiting for him to play his way out of it. And he’s performing at a level where questions on how much worse career 1st basemen Dan Johnson (.289/.427/.561 in AAA) could really be than Hudson are at least hypotheticals worth pondering.
Finding an improvement should be easy, but not in this farm system, where a minor league 1st basemen is the most inspired choice. Even Kevin Youkilis–while falling apart–represents a clear upgrade, but now that a significant market has built up for him, the Sox may have spent their best chance mulling over whether they could afford the salary commitment that would have to be the centerpiece of their offer.
Ultimately, replacing Hudson doesn’t have to be any bigger of an ordeal than replacing Morel was, which is the beauty of sub-replacement players. When the performance is this bad, anything seems like a worthwhile flyer…even taking a rapidly declining veteran 2nd basemen and trying him at 3rd for a month.