Orlando Hudson needs to get real

Orlando Hudson is in no position to ask for $9 million next year. On December 1, the Dodgers chose to not offer Hudson arbitration and to everyone’s surprise, he still remains on the market. The Nationals have emerged as the only serious contender, which should be a clear sign of Hudson’s current value.

Fact is, $9 million is far too much money for a 32-year-old second baseman. True, Hudson does come with plenty of positives worthy of a decent contract. With a career batting average of .282, four Gold Gloves, and a perfect club-house personality, he’d be a key player on any team. However, Hudson can’t expect that kind of money when he doesn’t steal bases, hits for minimal power, and has a questionable back. For his body type, Hudson should steal about 20 bases per season. Also, if he wants to continue hitting higher up in the order, 10 home runs won’t do. Brian Roberts, Aaron Hill, Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, and Brandon Phillips are currently the most productive second basemen in the game. Cano, now 27 years old, will make $9 million next season — the same amount Hudson is seeking. In 2009, Cano hit .320 with 25 home runs and 85 RBIs, all the while helping the Yankees to a World Championship. Do Hudson and Cano really compare?

No, they don’t.

The Nationals are reportedly offering Hudson a one-year, $3 million deal. If the Nationals are serious, they’ll increase the amount to about $5 million. In that case, Hudson would be a fool to look elsewhere.

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SI.com’s MLB All-Star Team

Tom Verducci of SI.com put together his MLB All-Star team, where he fills out his roster with players that deserve to go to the Midsummer Classic based on their production over the first half of the season and not just the popular ones, which seem to make the ASG on name recognition alone.

American League

First base: Kevin Youkilis*, Justin Morneau, Russell Branyan. By far the deepest, toughest position to call in baseball. What about Mark Teixeira, Carlos Pena and Miguel Cabrera? They deserve to go, but there is no room.

Second base: Aaron Hill*, Ben Zobrist, Ian Kinsler. Surprise! Combined previous All-Star selections for this trio: one. Hill, 27, and Zobrist, 28, already have set career highs in homers and Kinsler, 27, is just two behind his highwater mark.

Shortstop: Jason Bartlett*, Derek Jeter, Marco Scutaro. Bartlett, a career .276 hitter entering this year, was batting more than 100 points above his career average. Scutaro, the most patient hitter in the league, is having a breakout year at 33 and could join Alex Rodriguez and Cal Ripken Jr. as the only shortstops in the past 50 years to get 100 walks. And that Jeter guy is still pretty good.

Outfield: Jason Bay*, Torii Hunter*, Carl Crawford*, Adam Jones, Ichiro Suzuki. Hunter turns 34 next month and is having a career season, far outpacing his previous highs for on-base percentage and slugging.

Pitcher: Zack Greinke*, Roy Halladay, Kevin Millwood, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Cliff Lee, Jared Weaver, Edwin Jackson, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, David Aardsma. Heavy on young starting pitchers, the AL staff is light on one ingredient: left-handed pitching. Lee is the only lefty.

National League

First base: Albert Pujols*, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez. A similar story to the AL logjam. Todd Helton, Ryan Howard and Lance Berkman all have good arguments for being All-Stars, but they can’t all go.

Second base: Chase Utley*, Freddy Sanchez, Orlando Hudson. Over the past four seasons Utley’s RBI totals, in no particular order, have been 102, 103, 104 and 105. This year? He’s on a pace for 113.

Third base: David Wright*, Pablo Sandoval, Mark Reynolds. It’s been a very weird season for Wright, who has hit just four home runs, including only one on the road, and seen his rate of strikeouts soar — all while leading the league in hitting (.339).

Outfield: Raul Ibanez*, Brad Hawpe*, Ryan Braun*, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Hunter Pence. Philly fans already love Ibanez, and why not? In late and close situations he’s hitting .415. (Special mention for the injured Carlos Beltran.)

Pitcher: Tim Lincecum*, Matt Cain, Dan Haren, Josh Johnson, Yovani Gallardo, Chad Billingsley, Javier Vazquez, Ryan Franklin, Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, Trevor Hoffman, Rafael Soriano. Only one starting pitcher older than 28. And you thought the AL was light on lefties? Not a single lefty on the staff here. Sorry, Johan Santana.

Glad to see that Zobrist, Scutaro, Hudson and Sandoval are getting some recognition from the national media, because all four have been fantastic for their clubs in the first half of the season.

It’s amazing to see the logjam at first base for both teams and to think that Gonzalez is third best at the position in the NL. I love the youth on both squads and the pitching for the NL is sick (and Santana didn’t even make Verducci’s team).

Too bad these two rosters won’t look like the official ones. It’s nice that fans have a vote in baseball, but most of them abuse the option by only penciling in players from their favorite teams. It completely defeats the purpose of giving fans a voice when it comes to selecting the ASG teams.

10 MLB players to root for in the steroid era

When I was growing up, my friends and I used to walk down to an open field next to a church and play baseball with four rubber bases, one aluminum bat and a tennis ball.

On the way to the field, we used to have mock drafts where we pretended we were general managers picking players for our lineup. When we got to the field, we had to do our best to simulate what each player’s batting stance looked like and then hit like that player.

My favorite player growing up was Giants’ first baseman Will Clark, so after I drafted him I always had to bat lefty (which was a bit problematic since I was right handed and never mastered the art of switch hitting) and stick my right leg straight out in front of me in order to impersonate his stance. And just like “The Thrill,” I had to wear thick eye black and stick a wad of chewing tobacco (well, he had chewing tobacco, I had Big League Chew) in one of my cheeks.

Those are the memories that always make me laugh at myself as a kid. It’s also memories like those that also make me wonder what I would have done if I were a young baseball fan growing up in what should be known as “the steroid era.”

If I drafted Mark McGwire, I guess I would have had to put pillow cushions in each of my sleeves to replicate his big, steroid-enhanced arms. If I drafted Roger Clemens, I guess I would have had to mimic taking HGH before I took the mound and then subsequently pretend to give my girlfriend an injection just as the Rocket did to his wife. (And then lie about everything if I was questioned later about the allegations.)

And I guess if I had drafted Alex Rodriguez, I would have had to not only mimic the steroid use, but also tip one of my friends off about what pitch was coming so that he could pad his stats.

I feel bad for young baseball fans these days. Chances are that their favorite player is/was on the juice and therefore their sports heroes are cheating in order to gain a competitive edge. As it turns out, Will Clark was kind of a dick. But as far as we all know, he played the game the right way and never tried to gain an edge over his fellow players. And unlike A-Fraud, Clark would have rather cut off both his arms than tip an opponent to what pitch was coming.

In effort to help out the young fans across this fine nation, I’ve compiled a list of 10 MLB players (in no particular order) that people can root for as we drudge our way through the steroid era. As far as we know, none of these players have ever taken performance-enhancers, nor have they disrespected the game by playing solely for stats, money or anything else. These aren’t only good guys, but they’re also tremendous ball players that probably don’t get enough credit for staying clean in an unclean baseball fraternity.

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2009 MLB Preview: #7 Arizona Diamondbacks

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Offseason movement: The D-Backs made a couple of nice moves, including signing potential leadoff hitter and everyday second baseman Felipe Lopez, as well as free agent starter Jon Garland. They also added Tom Gordon and Scott Schoeneweis to help setup closer Chad Qualls. Randy Johnson, Orlando Hudson, Adam Dunn, Brandon Lyon, Juan Cruz and David Eckstein all vacated the desert this offseason.

Top Prospect: Jarrod Parker, RHP
Unlike other clubs that have a couple of players that could be viewed as top prospects, there’s no question that Parker is the best of the best in the D-Backs’ farm system. The 9th overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft, Parker stands just 6’0”, 175 pounds and is rather small in stature. But his fastball is dominating and has even drawn comparisons to Roy Oswalt, which is quite the compliment in itself. The 20-year old probably won’t get the opportunity to crack the big league roster for another year or two, but he could be quite the No. 3 behind Brandon Webb and Dan Haren as early as 2011.

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2009 MLB Preview: #10 Los Angeles Dodgers

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Offseason Movement: The Dodgers were mostly quiet this offseason outside of adding Orlando Hudson, Guillermo Mota and Randy Wolf. Oh yeah, and after 4,958 days of painful back and forth negotiating, L.A. GM Ned Colleti was able to re-sign outfielder Manny Ramirez to a two-year deal.

Top Prospect: James McDonald, RHP
The Dodgers have a couple of top prospects, including OF/1B Andrew Lambo and INF Ivan DeJesus Jr., but McDonald is the closest to making the big league roster. The club has been in search for a fifth starter all spring and they could tab McDonald for the role if he continues to pitch well in exhibition games. McDonald doesn’t overpower hitters (his fastball only tops out at 92 mph), but he has a nasty curveball and his command is solid as well. It’ll be interesting to see if L.A. gives the 24-year old the fifth spot in the rotation or sends him down to Triple-A for more seasoning.

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