Tagged: Orlando Hudson

A Rare Off-Season

After making the playoffs for the fifth time in eight seasons, and with a new ballpark in the waiting, the Minnesota Twins entered the off-season primed to make some moves. It took less than two days for the front office to get started, and the big moves over the past four-plus months have many fans optimistic about the team’s chances. 

Four roster moves and one key signing have fans excited, and the season that has been talked about for several years has now finally arrived. A new ballpark, the beginning of the prime years for several star players, and new additions to the roster could potentially make a great start for a new era in Minnesota baseball.
Less than forty-eight hours after the New York Yankees clinched the World Series, the Twins acquired shortstop J.J. Hardy with the hope that he can solidify the shortstop position for at least the next two seasons. The position hasn’t seen consistency since Christian Guzman roamed there during the 2005 season, and if Hardy can hit anywhere near the way he did during his breakout years in 2007 and 2008, he could be a perfect fit.
Next on the agenda was veteran starting pitcher Carl Pavano. His success against the division and the Detroit Tigers in particular made him the perfect late-season pickup as the Twins looked to capture a division title last year. His success with the Twins helped him stay put in Minnesota. After offering Pavano arbitration and receiving acceptance, the sides eventually worked out a one-year, $7 million deal. 
The Twins’ off-season was already going smoothly when the new year began. The rumors continued, and the big name that popped up seemingly every week was that of lefty Jarrod Washburn. Instead of adding another pitcher, the Twins added some pop to the bench with the signing of future Hall of Fame slugger, Jim Thome. After lacking a power hitter off the bench in the 2009 playoffs, the Twins went out and added a cheap option while taking an old nemesis off the streets at the same time. 
With the late-January addition of Thome, the Twins had made three solid off-season moves. Retaining Pavano and bringing in both Hardy and Thome were moves that helped general manager Bill Smith’s grade sheet. The money available seemed to be thin though, and what else the Twins could do remained uncertain as spring training neared.
Just over one week away from the start of spring training, and already at $90 million for the Opening Day payroll, the Twins wrote one more check and added second baseman Orlando Hudson to the fold. The veteran has made All-Star appearances, has won gold gloves, and is the perfect fit between Denard Span and Joe Mauer in the lineup. 
The off-season was already superb with the additions of Hardy, Pavano, Thome and Hudson when the Twins locked up one of baseball’s best players, Joe Mauer, through 2018 to officially complete the five months of hard work. Experts and fans from around the league have lauded the team’s off-season moves and the organization has without a doubt heightened their MLB betting odds for the 2010 season with what might be an off-season of a lifetime for the Minnesota Twins and their fans. 

They’ve Arrived

Pitchers and catchers have finally kick-started spring training with their arrival in the Minnesota Twins’ spring home of Fort Myers, Florida. Joe Mauer is present and already answering questions about his contract status, and newcomers J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson are in town a week early.

The Associated Press is on the scene, and you can find more photos at the team gallery
Spring Mauer.jpg
Spring Hardy.jpg
Spring Hudson.jpg

Interview: Orlando Hudson

O-Dog.pngIn need of a second baseman, the Minnesota Twins waited until early February to make their move. The transaction came in the form of Orlando Hudson, a two-time All-Star and active participant in the community.
Orlando was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule, and just before team workouts begin next week, answer some questions for an interview on his decision to join the organization, his charity and more.
A Voice From Twins Territory: Growing up in South Carolina, who was your favorite baseball team, and who were a few of your favorite players?

Orlando Hudson: The New York Mets were my favorite team. Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Chipper Jones and Ken Griffey, Jr. were some of my favorite players.

AVFTT: Who is one person or a few people who have helped you along the path to professional baseball?

OH: My father and my uncles Lynwood and Boyd helped me a lot growing up. They would have me in the yard playing baseball all the time. My father showed me how to play the game as he was a great baseball player himself, and still loves to play today.

AVFTT: What is the greatest part of being a professional baseball player, and what are a few of your greatest memories?

OH: The greatest part of being a professional baseball player is that God chose only a few of us to play the hardest sport there is, and that makes us special. A few of my greatest memories are winning four gold gloves, making two all-star teams, and hitting for the cycle.

AVFTT: What has the experience been like to go from a late-round draft selection to a Gold Glove defender and an All-Star second baseman?

OH: It does not matter how early or late you go in the draft, what matters is working hard to get there and stay.

AVFTT: How difficult has it been to battle through thumb and wrist injuries throughout your career? What has helped get you through those tough moments?

OH: Prayer and family support has helped me to get through the tough injuries. They were just stepping stones God put in my path to make me stronger.

AVFTT: How do you feel right now? What is a normal day like for you during the off-season?

OH: I feel great right now. A normal day for me is getting up to hunt before day break then taking the kids to school. I go to the gym daily. I enjoy spending time with my family and children every day as well.

AVFTT: You founded the C.A.T.C.H. foundation, what is your primary goal with that charity, and what have been some of the best things that you’ve been able to do with it?

OH: The primary goal of the C.A.T.C.H. Foundation is to raise awareness and funds about autism while helping families and children cope with it. I have been able to have events in my home town and the city I play in, and raise money that is donated to SARRC, which is a foundation that deals with research for autism. In my home town of Darlington, the money goes to the county Autism Program.

AVFTT: The Twins’ organization has often been well connected with the community, what are some things you hope to do in your time with the organization and in the Twin Cities?

OH: I hope to raise awareness and funds for autism of course, but I also plan to work with the RBI program through my Around the Mound Tour which helps inner city kids get more involved in baseball.

AVFTT: You talked with several teams for quite some time before choosing Minnesota. Were the Twins interested early on, and what were some of the selling points that ultimately had you choose Minnesota?

OH: Yes, I talked with several teams, but the Twins were not one of them early on. Minneapolis is a great city and having to play with the best hitter in the game, Joe Mauer, are some of the reasons why I chose Minnesota. Not to mention the great fans!

AVFTT: What are your thoughts on having the chance to hit between Denard Span and Joe Mauer, and play with the likes of Jim Thome and Justin Morneau among others? 

OH: This will be one great experience with all the speed and power in the lineup.

AVFTT: Have you had the opportunity to see the team’s new stadium, Target Field? 

OH: I have not seen the stadium in person, but I have seen pictures and it looks nice. I know I am going to fr

AVFTT: You’re known as the O-Dog, where did that nickname come from? 

OH: O-Dog was a name that some of my boys came up with in high school after the movie ‘Menace to Society’ came out. My dad’s nickname is Dog.

AVFTT: You’re known as an outdoorsman who likes to both fish and hunt, are you excited to get outdoors in Minnesota this spring and summer? 

OH: I do like the outdoors because of its beautiful nature, but I do not plan to fish or hunt in Minnesota.

AVFTT: As you continue your career, what are your goals both on and off the field?

OH:: As I continue my career I would like to expand my foundation and open an autistic school in Darlington, South Carolina and hopefully one day make the Hall of Fame. I want to also be known as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball.

Everybody Likes Orlando

The Minnesota Twins have had some recent success with Orlando. Last season, in a mid-season trade, Orlando Cabrera arrived and helped lift the Twins to a division title. Less than three weeks from spring training, Orlando Hudson has now arrived, and his arrival brings excitement.

The entire infield for Minnesota, outside of mainstay Justin Morneau of course, has been changing year after year. By signing shortstop J.J. Hardy two days into the off-season, the Twins shored up one slot and left two more for work. 
Third base will be taken over by Brendan Harris and Nick Punto, and second base will now be occupied by an All-Star caliber player. Hudson last season hit .283 with 9 homeruns and 62 runs batted in. His numbers are much more than a slight improvement to both the second slot in the lineup and the second base position. 
Last season in the second spot in the order, the Twins hit a combined .232 with 7 homeruns and 66 RBI when Joe Mauer wasn’t there. The second basemen combined to hit .209 with 2 homeruns, 43 RBI and an on-base percentage of just .302 (compared to Hudson’s .357 mark).
Hudson will earn $5 million on a one-year deal that includes no incentives. There are award bonuses included, and the Twins can’t offer arbitration if Hudson qualifies as a Type-A free agent, but the moves was a no brainer. 
After reportedly being rejected by left-handed starter Jarrod Washburn earlier this off-season after the team offered the same one-year, $5 million deal, and after Francisco Liriano stunned the Twin Cities with his winter ball performance, it only made sense for the organization to focus it’s attention and money toward the second base options. 
The off-season began with question marks in the rotation, on the bench, and in three of four infield positions. As spring training draws near, the Twins have now addressed each of those questions, and their off-season might just be considered one of the best in baseball (Hardy, Hudson, Pavano, Thome, Condry). 

The Thome Aftermath

After being a Twin killer for most of his career, a run that included hitting 57 homeruns against Minnesota, Jim Thome is joining the organization. For just $1.5 million and up to $750,000 in incentives based on plate appearances, Thome will become a powerful bat off the bench and a spot starter at designated hitter. 

What exactly Thome will do is hard to tell, but it is know that the signing affects the team’s roster, the team’s bench plans for the 2010 season, and the current payroll.

40-Man Roster
The team’s 40-man roster is currently jam packed. There is nowhere to put Thome, and the Twins will have until this weekend when Thome completes his physical to make a roster decision. 
It’s currently difficult to tell who exactly the Twins will remove from the roster as several candidates would be in danger of being lost through waivers. Both Glen Perkins and Alexi Casilla are rumored to be available, but it’s also difficult to see something happening on that front before spring training. 
Bench Plans
The Twins will in all likelihood go with a 12-man pitching staff. Going in that direction would allow for four players on the bench, and with Jim Thome onboard, the plan might change just a bit.
Jose Morales, or any other catcher who may need to start the season after Morales’ has surgery this week, will take one spot. Two spots remain after that, and it sounds as if Jason Pridie might get one spot while the other could come down to a battle between Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert if no further moves are made. 
If the Twins sign a second or third baseman, either Nick Punto or Brendan Harris could shift to the bench, costing both Tolbert and Casilla roster spots. All in all, the bench battle won’t be fully solved until spring training gets underway. 
Payroll Situation
Thome’s contract was rather small, and it really adds just about $1 million to the payroll since he’ll be taking a player’s roster spot who would have made the minimum of around $500,000. Now that Thome is signed, the Twins are right at or slightly above the $90 million mark.
Assuming the Twins might have $5 million more to spend if the right move comes along, there could still be a move to re-sign third baseman Joe Crede or a second baseman such as Orlando Cabrera, Orlando Hudson, or Felipe Lopez. 

To-Do List: Late January

The Minnesota Twins have made some improvements to the roster this off-season, but they have nonetheless been relatively quiet. Outside of acquiring shortstop J.J. Hardy, retaining starting pitcher Carl Pavano, bringing in reliever Clay Condry, and avoiding arbitration with eight eligible players, the Twins have kept to themselves.

Questions remain regarding the roster, and the team is now just four weeks away from reporting day in Fort Myers, Florida. Every question can be answered with a roster move in the form of a free agent signing or trade; those same questions can be answered in-house if the front office deems that to be the best route.
Now one week away from TwinsFest and one month away from day one of spring training, here is a look at the team’s current to-do list.
1) Sign Joe Mauer
Whether the Twins sign two more players or make no additional roster moves, their off-season will be judged based on what they’re able to do with Joe Mauer. The Twins will be assessed by the outcome of their negotiations, and they must lock up the hometown hero to keep fans not just happy, but calm as well.
2) 5th Starting Pitcher
Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn and Carl Pavano seem to be locks for the 2010 Opening Day rotation. One final spot remains however, and the Twins must decide what their plan will be.
Lefties Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins and Francisco Liriano could compete for the job, or the team could sign veteran Jarrod Washburn, whom they offered a one-year deal weeks ago. The best route and money-wise way would be to let the in-house candidates fight for the job this spring.
3) Fourth Outfielder
If the season were to start today it seems as though Jason Pridie would be the team’s fourth outfielder. He isn’t the worst option since he brings both speed and the ability to play each outfield position.
Nonetheless, the Twins must decide if they’re comfortable with Pridie or if they feel they need to bring in a veteran who can provide pop off the bench. One popular name is Eric Byrnes, whom the Diamondbacks released earlier this week. 
4) Solution Needed: 2B and 3B
The organization’s third base options are now limited. They can re-sign Joe Crede to an incentive laden deal, or they can go in-house with a combination of Brendan Harris and Nick Punto. Whatever the case, they’ll soon be forced to pick a solution.
Second base is more complicated. Two premier upgrades remain on the market, and each would provide a solution to both the infield position and the two-hole in the lineup. The Twins have had internal discussions about both Orlando Hudson and Felipe Lopez, but are waiting for the price to drop. 

Two Upgrades Remain

With each passing day, the Minnesota Twins’ chances to upgrade both the infield and lineup have gone right with. Off the table are Pedro Feliz, Garrett Atkins, Chone Figgins, Troy Glaus, Mark DeRosa, Adrian Beltre and Kevin Kouzmanoff. The third base options have dried up, and if the team upgrades before spring training, it’ll need to be in the form of a second basemen.

At third base, there are no more options. Joe Crede would be much of the same; a half-season player with decent production when healthy, and Miguel Tejada has never played anywhere but short, and the Twins haven’t been connected with him all off-season.
At second base, there are two sensible options for the Twins. Due to currently high demands, both Orlando Hudson and Felipe Lopez remain on the market. There are many teams interested, and in the end it may come down to which team is willing to give the extra year or extra dollars. 
Between Denard Span and Joe Mauer, both Hudson and Lopez would fit well. While Hudson hit .283 in 149 games last season, Lopez hit .310 in 151 games, Hudson posted an on-base percentage of .357 while Lopez posted one of .383, and Hudson hit 9 homeruns and drove in 62 runners while Lopez hit 9 homeruns and drove in 57 runners. 
A recent report put Hudson’s demand at $9 million per season. No team will pay that number, and so it’ll be a waiting game. The Washington Nationals are interested, as are other teams, but if the Twins want to make one final mark and truly upgrade the infield, they have just two more obvious chances remaining. 

What About Second?

Since the off-season first began, the reports have been centered around various third basemen, and the talk has been about who will play next to J.J. Hardy on the left side of the infield next season. Just weeks after the Winter Meetings came to a close, most of the Minnesota Twins’ options have signed elsewhere, and what they’ll do is now uncertain.

Chone Figgins is off to Seattle, Pedro Feliz is going to Houston, Troy Glaus will be in Atlanta, Garrett Atkins is headed to Baltimore, and Mark DeRosa is now headed to the west coast and San Francisco. One potential upgrade remains in Adrian Beltre, but his price might be too steep.
Joe Crede could return or the Twins could go with Danny Valencia to fill the third base void. But there is one other option that might just make sense. If Nick Punto is bound to be in the lineup, why not place him at third and go after a second baseman?
Two primary second basemen remain on the free agent market in Orlando Hudson and Felpiz Lopez. Both would be solid upgrades for the team at the right price, and they’d fill not only the second base void, but also the second spot in the lineup.
Last season, Hudson hit .283 with 9 homeruns, 62 RBI and 74 runs scored. Lopez meanwhile hit .310 with 9 homeruns, 57 RBI and 88 runs scored. Lopez is three years younger, but Hudson is just 32 and a deal would likely be for two or three seasons. 
If the Twins were to add Hudson or Lopez to the roster, a potential 2010 Opening Day lineup might be as follows:
1. Denard Span (cf)
2. Hudson/Lopez (2b)
3. Joe Mauer (c)
4. Justin Morneau (1b)
5. Michael Cuddyer (rf)
6. Jason Kubel (dh)
7. J.J. Hardy (ss)
8. Delmon Young (lf)
9. Nick Punto (3b)
Last season, the Minnesota Twins hit just .262 in the second spot in the lineup to go along with a .306 on-base percentage. Their second basemen combined meanwhile, hit just .209 with a .302 on-base percentage. Both Hudson and Lopez had on-base percentages around or above .360, and each could get on in front of Mauer rather than empty the bases. 
The general consensus has been that the Twins would obtain a third basemen and fill second base with Nick Punto. With options running out however, it might be just as wise to go after Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez and stick Punto on the left side. 

Winter Meetings Primer

The Minnesota Twins have been relatively quiet since shoring up the shortstop position with the acquisition of J.J. Hardy one month ago. As December begins and the year winds to an end, the hot stove is heating up, and this week transactions will begin to come one after another.

Baseball officials began arriving in Indianapolis for the 2009 Winter Meetings on Sunday, and the event will run through Thursday when it concludes with the Rule Five Draft. As Bill Smith and company settle in, they’ll begin work on a roster that has questions remaining at second base, third base, and in the rotation. 
Over the next four days rumors will run rampant; some will be legitimate while others will be blown out of proportion or possibly completely fabricated. Here are some players and teams to watch as possible connections this week.
Second Base
Second base and the second spot in the lineup are a huge hole for the Twins. Both Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert are capable of filling the hole, but neither will upgrade it to the level that several potential targets might.
Felipe Lopez and Orlando Hudson are the two premium second basemen remaining on the market after Placido Polanco signed last week, and they may be the team’s key chances to upgrade plate production in the infield.
Third Base
Chone Figgins is gone, but the Twins never likely had interest anyways. Mark DeRosa and Pedro Feliz remain available, and the Twins could potentially talk with both of their agents this week.
While the team has had interest in free agent Adrian Beltre, unless his reported demand of $10 million annually drops, he won’t be signing in Minnesota anytime soon. 
The best solution for the infield seems to be to fill second base and then look toward third base when that task is completed. The third base options are less desirable than Hudson and Lopez.
Starting Pitchers
Four starting pitchers should be watched this week: Carl Pavano, Jarrod Washburn, Ben Sheets and Rich Harden
Unless Pavano accepts the team’s arbitration offer by the Monday deadline, he’ll be on the free agent market. The Twins are expected to continue work on a potential multi-year deal, and there seems to be a decent chance he stays in the Twin Cities.
If not, the Wisconsin native Washburn and the Twins seem to have mutual interest. After the two veterans, formerly injured starters Sheets and Harden have both reportedly drawn some level of interest from the team as well. 
The Florida Marlins are one key team to keep an eye on. Starter and Minneapolis native Josh Johnson isn’t likely going anywhere, but second basemen Dan Uggla may. If the Twins are unable to sign a free agent there may at least be some talks.
Another team with a second basemen is the Cincinnati Reds. As they cut payroll this off-season, one player reportedly available is Brandon Phillips. If the Twins run out of options elsewhere, he too may be talked about. 
Dark Horse Names 
Ronnie Belliard, 2B – Playing in favor of Orlando Hudson at times last season, Belliard did a decent job. He hit .277 with 10 homeruns and 39 RBI in 110 games.
Robb Quinlan, OF/1B – The utility man has reportedly had talks with the team thus far and could join the roster as the backup outfielder and first basemen. 
Joe Crede, 3B – If the Twins decide the third base options aren’t worth the price, it remains very possible that Crede could be re-signed late this off-season. 
Glen Perkins, SP – While Perkins is on the Twins roster, he is a potential trade target to watch. Eligible for arbitration and a raise, if the Twins don’t feel they have room in the rotation or bullpen, he could be moved.