Friday, February 5, 2010

Twins land their infielder

Second baseman Orlando Hudson — four-time Gold Glover, two-time All-Star — agreed to a one-year deal with the Twins late Thursday.

Hudson's 32, and while there is chatter that his play has fallen off since he dislocated his wrist late in the 2008 season, it's difficult to find evidence of that in his stats.

Pondering now the implications for the Twins roster ... Here's a likely default lineup, from which Ron Gardenhire will vary for reasons of injury, slumps, matchups, periodic days off and managerial whim:
  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
  3. Joe Mauer, C
  4. Justin Morneau, 1B
  5. Jason Kubel, DH
  6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
  7. J.J. Hardy, SS
  8. Delmon Young, LF
  9. Nick Punto, 3B
I can imagine Hardy and Young being transposed. I figure Punto ranks ahead of Brendan Harris because Punto is the better fielder and baserunner and has the better on-base percentage. Harris' one advantage over Punto is power, and we're not talking Jim Thome here.

That's a pretty solid lineup.

The bench, on the other hand:
  • Thome, hitting specialist
  • reserve catcher (Jose Morales, Drew Butera or Wilson Ramos)
  • reserve outfielder (Jason Pridie has the edge) — to be a defensive sub for Young or Kubel, back up Span, to pinch run for Kubel or Thome. Legs and a glove.
  • Harris or Punto, whoever isn't playing third
There's no room there for either Alexi Casilla or Matt Tolbert, and both (I believe) are out of options. It's certainly possible that the Twins could slip either through waivers, although I can think of a couple of teams in the Twins division that might be better off with Tolbert in their lineup than with the infielders they currently have.

I rather suspect that Gardenhire would prefer Tolbert to Harris. But Harris has a new two-year contract. And I have difficulty imagining Gardenhire feeling comfortable with Punto or Tolbert in the outfield in anything other than an emergency or a blowout.

A surplus of utility infielders is not normally regarded as the basis from which to make a trade. But if the Twins can move one of those guys — Punto, Harris, Tolbert or Casilla — for a more reliable fourth outfielder, they should.

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