I initially balked at any suggestion the Mets sign Orlando Hudson. The more I think about it, however, the stronger the case for signing him seems in my mind. This signing may be closer to happening that we think, as the Mets seems keen to sign him on any chance to dump Castillo. Here are a variety of factors that make the signing more rational.
Context: The Mets blew it. Twice. But there’s no need to go down that road again. Those miscues do, however, put the Mets in a precarious position. They need to win now, perhaps like no other team in history. Their core is arguably better than Doc/Straw/Keith, and probably the best in the majors. Reyes and Wright are at their offensive peaks. Santana, while still a deity, is past his prime. Carlos Voltron, past his offensive prime, seems to be in the throes of strange and beautiful defensive god-period. The talent exists, the stadium is opening, the failure looms. Drastic measures (big contracts) can be justified.
Holes: Despite his penchant for the “big deal,” Omar Minaya seems to suck at finishing a roster. Beltran and Santana have been mentioned, but the Milledge trade, the Castillo/Alou signings, the bullpen, and the bench have been compounding disasters. This flaw seems strange give his relative skill in these areas in 2006, which may have been a bit lucky. While it seems they’re going to fix the bullpen (to an extent) this off-season, two major holes remain (left field, second base). While most Mets fans debate whether it should be Murphy-Dunn or Castillo-Murphy, neither of those seem realistic with the Mets’ front office. Instead, it looks like some combination of Murphy, Castillo, and Raul Ibanez. Finally, Hudson enters the picture.
Replacement: If Hudson is at second, Murphy’s in left. Assuming a normal return from injury, and a subsequent revival of fielding skills, Hudson could be anywhere from a 3.5-4 win player. Luis Castillo, on the other hand, projects to be about one win above replacement. That means the put the difference between the two anywhere between 2-3 wins in Hudson’s favor, no small feat, but perhaps not enough to justify another Castillo like contract, right? Well consider the possibilities without Hudson. Murphy at second/Ibanez in left: although his bat is more valuable at second, his unproven/poor defense might undermine his offensive contributions. Ibanez, on the other hand is maybe a half a win in left due to poor defense. Daniel the leftfielder projects to be anywhere from 2 or (I shit you not) 4 wins better than Ibanez. Assuming that currently the Mets are leaning toward Castillo/Ibanez, the money and position of Hudson would force them into a Hudson/Murphy play. That’s 5-8 wins at stake.
Pitching: The emergence of GB fiend Big Pelf and the imminent arrival of John Niese, the Mets could use Hudson’s D. Assuming that both secondbasmen return from injury/laziness, Hudson at +10 runs in the field and Castillo and -8 seems reasonable. Throw in the possible addition of a Derek Lowe or Andy Sonnanstine, and the Mets go from flyball to groundball staff in a year, and the need for good infield defense becomes apparent.
Intangibles: Much has been made about Hudson’s desire to play for the Mets and leadership qualities. While I don’t always put alot of stock in this stuff, I wouldn’t mind a player I could really root for.