Minnesota Twins' Orlando Hudson Files For Free Agency: What's On Second?

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Minnesota Twins' Orlando Hudson Files For Free Agency: What's On Second?
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
It appears Orlando Hudson's tenure in Minnesota will only be one season.

The Minnesota Twins appear to have a revolving door at second base.

When the 2009 season began, the Abbott and Costello routine was, "Who's on third? I don't know."

Now it's, "What's the guy's name on second?"

This past week, eight Twins declared for free agency. Among them was second baseman Orlando Hudson.

For the four-time Gold Glover and two-time All-Star, it begs the question—what is it wrong with Hudson?

If Hudson does not re-sign with the Twins, and the odds of that happening appear unlikely, it will be four teams in four years for the switch-hitting second baseman. 

Between two stints on the disabled list Hudson played 126 games at second this season. That's the most since Luis Castillo played in 142 games in 2006.

For the Twins, they will be searching for their sixth second baseman in eight years.

The last player to hold the position longer than two consecutive seasons was Luis Rivas, the Twins second baseman from 2001-2004.

Hudson hit .268 with six home runs and 24 doubles. He stole 10 bases in 13 attempts. Next month he will turn 33, and after being paid $5 million this last season, he is expendable.

Manager Ron Gardenhire and general manager Bill Smith are going to give Alexi Casilla another shot to secure the position for 2011.

In 2008 Casilla played 95 games at second. A season in which he hit seven of his eight home runs and batted a career best .281. 

In 2009 Casilla and Nick Punto split duties at second. The Twins did not pick up Punto's option for 2011, so until they make their next move it looks like second base is Casilla's to lose.

It's difficult to fathom what Gardenhire is looking for in a second baseman.

It was no secret that Gardenhire did not appreciate Hudson's attempt to play through his injuries this past season. It got to the point where Gardenhire did not believe Hudson's assessment on his readiness, and the fact that he would repeatedly wince and grimace while trying to play hurt. 

Typically not a power position, the Twins have had two multiple gold glove winners making the turn at second. Along with Hudson the Twins had Luis Castillo playing second in 2006 and 2007.

Every regular second baseman since Rivas, Castillo, Punto, Casilla and Hudson, all have been switch-hitting singles hitters with some speed and little power. 

In his one and a half seasons with the Twins, Castillo hit .299, the highest among the group, while Hudson hit .268, the second highest.

The problem is both Castillo and Hudson came with price tags north of $5 million, a price the Twins don't seem willing to pay long term.

In Casilla the Twins appear to have another Punto clone.

The difference is Punto was going to cost the club $5 million in 2011, while Casilla was only paid $427,000 in 2010.

Here's how the three compare:

Orlando Hudson: 32 years old, .280 career batting average with 83 home runs, one every 50.2 at bats. Salary in 2010—$5 million .

Nick Punto: 32 years old, .247 career batting average, 13 home runs, one every 189 at bats. Salary in 2010—$4 million.

Alexi Casilla: 25 years old, .249 career batting average, eight home runs, one every 119.8 at bats. Salary in 2010—$437,500.

We've seen what Casilla can do, and what this clubs needs is an upgrade. Hudson is the best fielder of the bunch, and at this point I do not see Casilla improving to match Hudson's abilities.

Like Punto, Casilla's best role may be as the utility back up for the team. With batting averages in the mid 200's, and with little to no home run power, neither Punto nor Casilla are good options as everyday players. The only edge Casilla has over Punto is his price tag. 

Perhaps the Twins are making the move to Casilla to save some payroll so Smith can make a run at signing free agent Cliff Lee.

I know, it was a struggle for me to complete that last sentence without laughing, but a person can always hope.

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