Has Orlando Hudson lost his job?
- Talking to Jim Peltz of the L.A. Times, Dodgers manager Joe Torre would not commit to Ronnie Belliard over Orlando Hudson as the team's starting second baseman. Belliard has started at second base in eight of the team's 18 games this month, as well as a few times at third.
Hudson stands to lose money as a bench player, though he was gracious in comments made to Peltz. The way his contract is set up, Hudson is currently earning $10,000 per plate appearance up until his 632nd. He's already earned $7.63MM on the season, despite a base salary of $3.38MM.
At almost the exact moment that Hudson finally did become eligible for free agency, the U.S. economy went into free fall. Hence the one-year contract and the $3.4 million base salary. That said, he's going to wind up earning close to $8 million this season, while being "worth" less than $12 million. Still a bargain of sorts, but not like before.
And it really does seem that Hudson's time has passed. He didn't become an every-day player until he was 24, and wasn't a free agent until he was almost 31. For whatever reasons, his defense isn't what it used to be. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Hudson's defense at second base is not just passable. He seems to have passed his peak as a hitter, too. Getting benched in favor of Ronnie Belliard doesn't look real good, either.
What's odd about the benching is that Hudson was hitting plenty well enough until early September; his "slump" really consists of only 10 starts. Meanwhile, Belliard's been on a tear since joining the Dodgers three weeks ago, but that's only 18 games. There simply isn't any obvious reason to think that Belliard is suddenly a better player than Hudson.
Maybe Torre knows all this. Maybe he's just resting Hudson for the playoffs, and trying to keep his new toy Belliard sharp for spot duties next month. If you're a Dodger fan, you can only hope ...