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Arizona Diamondbacks: It Must Be Later Because the Player Was Named

Jeff SummersCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 23:  Tony Abreu #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers fields against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on August 23, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Cubs defeated the Dodgers 3-1.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

When the Arizona Diamondbacks traded Jon Garland to the Los Angeles Dodgers the deal was for the proverbial “player to be named later”. Within hours of the announced deal, there were rumors that the Diamondbacks would receive infielder Tony Abreu. This would potentially fulfill the Diamondbacks need for a second baseman.

Abreu is a highly touted 25-year-old second baseman that has had a lot of success at the minor league level similar to some of the other Diamondbacks young core players such as Chris Young, Chris Snyder, and Gerardo Parra.

In six minor league season Abreu accumulated 2063 at-bats and has a career .312 average a .351 on base percentage. He has played a total of 65 games at the major league level with a .270 average and an OBP of .317. Abreu is a slick fielding infielder with experience at second base, third base, and shortstop.

So, if it had been rumored that Abreu would be the player the Diamondbacks would receive, what took so long?

Well, Abreu was in the midst of a grievance with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Earlier this season Abreu was brought up from Triple-A. During his stint with the Dodgers, he was injured, but rather than putting him on the disabled list Abreu, he was sent back to the minors.

This of course messed with his major league service time which ultimately determines when a player will be able to become arbitration eligible and, finally, a free agent.

The number of days involved would mean Abreu could be arbitration eligible as soon as the end of next season meaning the Diamondbacks could be on the hook for a lot more salary than they expected when the trade was first announced.

It took until this week for the grievance to conclude with a compromise between the Dodgers and Abreu where Tony would probably not be eligible for arbitration until after the 2011 season. With that behind us the question is whether Tony Abreu is the Diamondbacks answer at second base?

The knock on Abreu has not been his talent; he is a valuable commodity who produces when he is in the lineup.

The problem has been keeping him healthy to remain in the lineup. Throughout his career, he has suffered several injuries mostly lower body. Whether it be hamstring, groin, or quadriceps it always seems to be something.

Given the plague of injuries that the Diamondbacks suffered this season does it really make sense to take a gamble on an injury prone infielder?

Both Augie Ojeda and Ryan Roberts have shown they are more than capable of handling the duties of second base and would be just as cost efficient as Abreu.

Maybe the Diamondbacks are just trying to add some depth, but it seems as though they received another Roberts or Rusty Ryal type of player but less durable.

Given the lack of playing time that the Los Angeles Dodgers are giving second baseman Orlando Hudson, perhaps the Diamondbacks should revisit their decision not to pursue Hudson. With Hudson scheduled to be a free agent after the season ends, it is looking more and more likely that he will not return to Dodger blue.

General Partner Ken Kendrick and General Manager Josh Byrnes have already hinted that outfielder Eric Byrnes may not return.

It was always rumored that the Diamondbacks could have signed either Byrnes or Hudson but not both. This may be a situation where the team gets a mulligan and can erase what looks like a bad decision.

Given the Diamondbacks propensity to load up on pitchers who throw a sinker or in general are ground ball pitchers, having a sure hand like Orlando Hudson would make a tremendous difference in the field.

Hudson is also looked upon as a positive clubhouse force and could help light a fire under the young players as he did during his earlier stint with Arizona. If there is indeed no rift between the Diamondbacks baseball operations people and Hudson, as each side has stated, then this would be the perfect time to step up and bring back one of the best second basemen in the game.

Given the defensive problems that the Diamondbacks suffered from last year they clearly miss Hudson.

And quite frankly AJ Hinch would sleep a lot better at night knowing he could pencil in a gold glove winner at second base especially if the Diamondbacks insist on continuing the Brandon Allen experiment like they are suggesting.

In his brief time with the Diamondbacks this season, Allen showed hands of stone at first base and a lot of indecision when it came to fielding his position.

Having Orlando Hudson’s range would make Allen look like less of a liability in the field that he does presently.

You could then potentially use Hudson as a mentor to either Roberts or Abreu to build for the future or at a minimum spell Reynolds, Drew, and Hudson to keep everyone fresh.

You also have a decent backup should Hudson get injured. Hudson showed, by signing a one-year contract last season, that he was willing to accept a short-term contract if necessary and it seemed to be a price the Diamondbacks could afford.

The economy doesn’t appear to have changed dramatically from last year to this year so it might be worth a shot exploring.

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