Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Ship Sails

Note: I'll get to the Joe Crede signing tomorrow. For today, I need to vent...

Earlier this offseason, I was rather annoyed when a player I coveted was acquired by a team other than the Twins for a far lower price than I'd anticipated he'd go for. In that case, it was Mark DeRosa, who the Cubs traded to the Indians for the modest price of three marginal pitching prospects not long after I wrote a post singing his praises and explaining why he'd be a great fit for the Twins. Now, it's happened again. Just one day after I posted an article explaining why signing Orlando Hudson -- if the price was right -- would make all the sense in the world for the Twins, the Dodgers nabbed Hudson with a one-year deal that guarantees only $3.4 million.

Hudson is a high-caliber player with three Gold Gloves on his shelf and an impressive career hitting line. While there is some concern that he'll begin to decline soon (though he certainly hasn't yet) and some have noted that he's somewhat injury-prone (though certainly not to Joe Crede's extent), this was a one-year deal carrying a commitment of less than $4 million. That's less than Nick Punto will make this year or next, and less than a million more than Crede is guaranteed to make.

Now, I realize that signing Hudson would have cost the Twins a first-round draft pick in June, and I'm sensitive to that fact. But this organization is currently deep on talent in the low minors -- six of the players on my Top Ten Prospects list in January were in Single-A or lower last season, and not one of the top five players on Aaron Gleeman's recently concluded top prospects list has faced Double-A competition yet. Losing a first-rounder would not have been ideal, but it's something that the Twins could have absorbed, particularly considering that they'll receive an extra second round pick in the draft once Dennys Reyes signs.

Now, one can't say with any certainty that the Twins could have acquired DeRosa or Hudson at the same price they eventually went for. Perhaps the Cubs were more willing to deal with the Indians than the Twins, and perhaps Hudson preferred to stay on the West Coast. But what irks me is that the Twins did not seem to pursue either of these players with any seriousness. DeRosa seemed like an afterthought when he was clearly available back in December, and I don't recall once seeing or hearing Hudson's name mentioned by anyone other than speculating bloggers such as myself.

The Twins came within an inch of the playoffs last year and are comfortable with what they've got -- I understand that. But this offseason has presented some terrific opportunities to acquire quality players at positions of need for pennies on the dollar, and the Twins have missed the boat on multiple occasions now. The Twins finally made a move to take advantage of this down marketplace by signing Crede, but better moves were available. Sometimes clinging to the status quo makes sense. Sometimes it does not.

15 comments:

Thomas said...

I do get why losing a first round pick is a big deal. But let's say he signs a one year deal, he's likely to retain type A status. And if he signs a two year deal, he's likely to remain at least a type B player. So it's really just a deferred pick, with the possibility of coming out ahead if he retains Type A.

Anonymous said...

17th pick of the draft for a one year deal for a guy who might not crack the 100 OPS+ mark is kinda awful isn't it?

Nick N. said...

I do get why losing a first round pick is a big deal. But let's say he signs a one year deal, he's likely to retain type A status. And if he signs a two year deal, he's likely to remain at least a type B player. So it's really just a deferred pick, with the possibility of coming out ahead if he retains Type A.

I'm guessing the contract he signed with the Dodgers includes a clause that prevents the draft pick compensation from taking effect if he's a Type A again next year. I doubt he wants to go through this again.

17th pick of the draft for a one year deal for a guy who might not crack the 100 OPS+ mark is kinda awful isn't it?

Not if he plays strong defense and provides a significant upgrade offensively over what the Twins currently have at a bargain price.

Anonymous said...

I can't say he's a significant upgrade over Casilla. I know Casilla has only really had 3 good monthes at the majors, but until that hand injury he was easily as good as Hudson.

Aberu is an ungrade to Kubel, but I can't say he's a significant upgrade that's worth throwing a young, cheap player to the bench. And atleast Aberu wouldn't have cost the Twins a draft pick.

Hudson is a nice player, but he's not 5 million + 1st round pick better then Casilla.

Curveball said...

I never totally understood the loss of a first round draft pick, especially if you are on a winning team. You draft pretty far down in the first round, and how much difference, let's say, is there between the 24th round and the 48th round,,,yabe if looking for a certain position.

Plus, the expense now of signing a first rounder.

Unless you are totally in a rebuilding mode and looking for that futrue stud, you may always be better off waiting and making trades or picking up guys that start slow in the further drafts.

Again, especially with the money demanded by first rounders. If you don't want to pay, you aren't going to draft the studs anyways, so let's let more of them get drafted so our own "average" picks will stay around.

Also, re: Hudson...it's also where a player wants to go. Just because so-and-so signs them for such-and-such, doesn't mean they would welcome the same offer from, say, the hometown Twins.

Nick N. said...

Also, re: Hudson...it's also where a player wants to go. Just because so-and-so signs them for such-and-such, doesn't mean they would welcome the same offer from, say, the hometown Twins.

Right, I think I made note of that when I said "perhaps Hudson preferred to stay on the West Coast." My point was that I didn't hear any indications that the Twins were actively pursuing Hudson. And really, if Hudson was looking to boost his value this season so he could get a better contract next year, he probably would have been better off coming to Minnesota than than pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium.

PWHjort said...

DeRosa was a perfect fit for the Twins. His .481 slugging percentage and ability to play everywhere is exactly what the Twins needed. Hudson would've been a good fit for the Twins as well, but be wary of his defense. His plus/minus stats went from +13 in 2006 to +20 in 2007 to -4 in 2008. Maybe last year was a fluke but it's entirely possible that Hudson's defense has significantly declined.

Nick N. said...

Hudson would've been a good fit for the Twins as well, but be wary of his defense. His plus/minus stats went from +13 in 2006 to +20 in 2007 to -4 in 2008. Maybe last year was a fluke but it's entirely possible that Hudson's defense has significantly declined.

Defensive metrics are pretty shaky and it's tough to make any judgments based on one year's worth of data. In general, it's better to look at multiple years and sort of average everything out to draw a conclusion. Overall, Hudson ranks as the fourth-best defensive 2B in baseball over the past three seasons according to +/-, and he rates solidly above average on UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) as well. I don't know if Hudson is quite as good as his reputation suggests, but there's little doubt that he is a premium defensive player.

Thomas said...

I'm guessing the contract he signed with the Dodgers includes a clause that prevents the draft pick compensation from taking effect if he's a Type A again next year. I doubt he wants to go through this again.

I wasn't aware that could be done. Has there been a history of that happening before?

And might I add there's reason to believe that Casilla might actually be below average defensively for a 2B.

Nick N. said...

I wasn't aware that could be done. Has there been a history of that happening before?

I seem to have heard that somewhere. Not sure if there's any truth or not. I can't think of a past instance in which it's happened.

And might I add there's reason to believe that Casilla might actually be below average defensively for a 2B.

I'd agree, which is one of my concerns with him. He rated very poorly in the field in 2007 and very well last year, overall I'd probably put him around average. He's got nice range but has been awfully mistake-prone up to this point.

If Crede stays healthy, though, the Twins should be awfully good defensively from the middle to the third base line (Mauer, Punto, Crede, Gomez, Span).

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand why would Ohud take a one year deal to go back onto the market next season and go from the #2 hitters back to the 2nd best pitchers park?

His numbers are gonna take a serious dip playing 81 games in LA, 9 in Petco and 9 in San Fran.

Thomas said...

I'd agree, which is one of my concerns with him. He rated very poorly in the field in 2007 and very well last year, overall I'd probably put him around average. He's got nice range but has been awfully mistake-prone up to this point.

you wouldn't happen to know the +/- numbers on him would you? Fangraphs doesn't have them, which is a shame, cause otherwise it's the perfect site.

Nick N. said...

you wouldn't happen to know the +/- numbers on him would you? Fangraphs doesn't have them, which is a shame, cause otherwise it's the perfect site.

I don't, unfortunately. I was looking at his UZR scores. To my knowledge, the only Web site that lists +/- scores is FieldingBible.com, and they only list the best and worst players in the league.

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