Over at Nick's Twins Blog, Nick isn't shy about his affection for Orlando Hudson, perhaps the best player who's still looking for a job and a salary commensurate with his considerable talents. Why the Twins?
The lineup is well constructed but clearly lacking one key piece: a hitter who can slide into the No. 2 spot between Denard Span and Joe Mauer to provide the bat-handling capabilities that Ron Gardenhire requires of a player in that role while also providing enough offensive production to merit such a high spot in the batting order. Hudson, a switch-hitter with a .282/.357/.431 career hitting line (which he basically matched last year), reaches base enough to be an asset in the two-hole and sprinkles in some power as well. Additionally, he was used in the small-ball capacity more than ever with the Dodgers last year, setting a career high with nine sacrifice hits.
Adding Hudson is almost a no-brainer from a competitive standpoint, so really this all comes down to dollars and cents. The Twins have stretched their budget thin already and Joe Christensen opined earlier this week that the Twins would not spend even $3 million on the second baseman.
With all due respect to both Nick and the Twins' lineup, I'm not sure that "well constructed" is an accurate description. Sure, they're solid at No. 1 (Span) and No. 3 (Mauer), not to mention No. 4 (Justin Morneau). Jason Kubel can hit, Michael Cuddyer can fill a slot, and I've got high hopes for J.J. Hardy, too.
But that's only six. That still leaves second base -- currently occupied by Nick Punto -- but also third base (Brendan Harris) and left field (Delmon Young). The Twins don't need to find a second baseman/ No. 2 hitter. They need to find at least one player who will significantly improve one of those three positions.
Now, you probably know that I think Kubel should take over for Young in left field, with Jim Thome taking over as the Twins' DH. So that's one position right there, and a Twins fan can just have a little faith.
But why not fix another one? I don't see any good third basemen floating around right now, but Orlando Hudson would be a huge improvement over Nick Punto and his 73 career OPS+.
Actually, that's not true. But Hudson's worth an extra one or two wins, and one or two wins is worth at least $3 million in the upper reaches of the American League Central. Consider: in three of the last four seasons, the Twins either won or lost the division title by exactly one game.