Going into the offseason, everyone knew the Minnesota Twins needed an upgrade at three of the four infield positions. The Twins were set with Justin Morneau at first, but needed to improve at second, short, and third in order to get to the next level.
Back in November, the Twins stole JJ Hardy from the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez to upgrade their shortstop position and yesterday they upgraded at second base.
According to Joe Christensen of the Minnesota Star Tribune, the Twins have signed second baseman Orlando Hudson to a one-year, $5 million contract. The deal has no incentives and no option for 2011.
Hudson is a clear upgrade over last year’s starting second baseman Nick Punto. Here are their stats from last year:
Hudson: .283/.357/.417 with nine home runs in 146 games.
Punto: .228/.337/.284 with one home runs in 125 games.
Punto is a nice little player, who does a lot of things right. He is a guy that every team should have on their ball club. But he shouldn’t be starting for a team that has World Series aspirations.
Hudson will certainly lengthen the Twins’ lineup. Here is a possible Minnesota lineup against right-handed pitching:
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Jason Kubel, LF
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
7. Jim Thome, DH
8. JJ Hardy, SS
9. Brendan Harris, 3B
That is one stacked lineup. These are no longer your father’s punch-and-Judy Twins’ lineup. This lineup can flat-out rake.
Of course against lefties, the Twins can go with Delmon Young in left and put Kubel back at DH. That’s still a pretty good lineup.
With the additions of Hudson, Hardy, Thome, and with their above average rotation and solid bullpen, I believe the Twins are the clear favorites in the American League Central.
Their closest competition in the Central will come from the Chicago White Sox. But with a suspect lineup and very mediocre defense, I am not sure the White Sox have what it takes to overtake the Twins in the division.
Now that the Twins have added Hardy and Hudson, don’t look for them to sign a third baseman as well. I think the Twins are done spending this offseason.
They will most likely go with Harris at third in 2010. Punto and Matt Tolbert could see some time at third as well.
Hudson will be entering his eighth year in the major leagues and has a career .282 average with 77 home runs, 50 stolen bases, 50 triples, and a .778 OPS with the Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
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