Tipping the cap to Orlando Hudson
It was a quick, one-year stop but it seems too easy for most to dismiss him. To focus on the end of his season here, when he faded and lost his starting job, and not on the previous five months when he was more than the Dodgers had any right to expect.
OK, maybe he wasn't the next Davey Lopes or Jeff Kent, but he never was supposed to be. What he was, was a small godsend from the troubled economy that allowed the Dodgers to sign him late and in a position of need.
And he delivered, became more than just a reliable part of the team. Played well enough to be named an All-Star. Played well enough that he helped the Dodgers endure the 50-game suspension of Manny Ramirez.
When Ramirez came back, the Dodgers had the best record in baseball. And on the day Ramirez returned July 3, Hudson was batting .294, with five home runs, 41 RBI and 48 runs.
He ran the bases well, was good in the clubhouse, and if not quite the defender he once was, still was well above average.
Hudson, 32, understandably was looking for a bump in the $3.4 guaranteed contract (though hefty incentives reportedly ultimately brought the deal to almost $7 million). The Dodgers did not offer arbitration, so there will be no bonus draft pick.
The Twins, who also signed Dodger-for-a-moment Jim Thome, obviously believe Hudson is still enough of a hitter and defender to warrant a one-year $5 million deal and plan to bat him second.
They think he fell into their laps. Sort of like the Dodgers last year.
Meanwhile, second base remains unsettled for the Dodgers. They have options and should be fine, but the possibility remains they may appreciate Hudson more now that he's gone.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Orlando Hudson. Credit: Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles Times.