Enough of This Orlando Hudson Benching Garbage

orlando-hudson-dodgersThere have been two popular questions amongst Dodger fans lately. The first is when are they going to finally clinch the division? The second is where the heck has Orlando Hudson been lately? The O-Dog finally made his way into the lineup on Wednesday night after not playing in nearly a week. The only reason he got his named scratched onto Joe Torre’s card is because Casey Blake was resting, meaning Hudson’s usual fill-in, Ronnie Belliard, was playing the hot corner. Joe Torre recently explained Hudson’s absence as an opportunity to keep going with Belliard who had been hot and give Hudson some rest. Torre confirmed that sentiment on Wednesday prior to playing Hudson in the game. That’s what he might be saying, but we all know the real reason Hudson hasn’t been playing — the check book of Frank McCourt.

Orlando Hudson signed an incentive-laden deal with the Dodgers prior to the season. He had a 3.38 million base salary with the potential to hit over $4 million more based on how much he played. This was critical because Hudson was coming off a big surgery on his hand and nobody was sure how much (and how well) he’d be able to play. Hitting those bonuses would be just that for both parties — a bonus they’d be happy to see him reach. Apparently that’s not the case for Dodger owner Frank McCourt who has had to pay over $4 million in bonuses to the O-Dog. Now that Hudson’s cracked 575 plate appearances for the year (all the while helping the Dodgers become the best team in the NL), he hit a clause in his contract that stipulates he’ll earn $10,000 for every single plate appearance he makes. What does that mean? Benching Hudson saves McCourt $40k a game.

Even if Hudson isn’t swinging it too well there isn’t a person in baseball who would agree that Ronnie Belliard is a better player, especially considering how strong of a glove Hudson is at second. If it’s just about giving the guy rest, how come Kemp, Manny, Ethier, or Martin aren’t sitting more often in favor of the more-than-capable Juan Pierre or Brad Ausmus? The answer is pretty simple — those guys aren’t making $10k per plate appearance the way Hudson is. Torre’s actually the poor messenger here trying to carry out the bosses orders with the best possible responses. No other logic explains why you would consistently bench a gold-glover when you’re trying to clinch a playoff spot. And if he’s not swinging it well, isn’t the idea to have him hit his way out of the slump now before the playoffs start? I guess not, why would winning matter when precious dollars are at stake? Get the O-Dog back in there, this is a sorry excuse.

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  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Allow me to kick things off with something I left out … how else is Hudson supposed to afford the second flap on his helmet??

  • Gene

    Well written, LB. Your logic is excellent. I would even like to add more fuel to the fire. Belliard can play all four of the infield positions and Mark Loretta is certainly a capable fill in at several.

    Rafael Furcal is coming off SEVERAL injury plagued seasons, and he is playing as often as anyone else, which is very risky. We need a healthy Furcal at full strength in the post season.

    If slumps are the concern, why is Russell (J) Martin not on the bench much more often? He has been in a season long slump at the plate.

    The answer to all of the questions posed is indeed McCheap’s checkbook. Remember all of the mortgage payments he has to make.

  • Alan

    I totally agree. He should file a grievance with the union if he hasn’t already. I would be so pissed if I were him.

  • Chase Kim

    Larry, nice theory, but if you do the math on the contract, Hudson has reached almost the ceiling on his contract anyways… Without counting SAC Flies or Bunts, he was already at 613 Plate Appearances… Do you really think McCourt is going to force Torre to bench Hudson for a measly $120K (That’s assuming he didn’t have 12 Sac Bunts or Flies this year…) If I’m not mistaken, I believe he made all but $10K on his contract this year. The truth is, as much as I like Hudson, he has not been that great during the last half of the season (come to think of it, he wasn’t great for about 2 weeks before the All Star break either)…All I’m saying is that it wasn’t a business decision, but a baseball one…

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    I did the math and yes, McCourt would do that to save $120k. He’s that concerned with money. The reasoning that would counter this argument though is that Torre played Belliard against the Cards in the NLDS which makes it look very real. Even if Hudson didn’t hit well in the second half, his glove is still worth him being out there without question.

  • Chase Kim

    I agree with you on the glove part, but after digging around a little bit, I did confirm that Hudson had 9 Sac hits… and ended the season with 631 PA… http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hudsoor01.shtml?redir

    Made his full possible contract…