Dodger Dawg: Hudson signs with LA

There's always a sense of betrayal when a player opts to sign with another team in the same division: it's like getting dumped by your girlfriend, in favor of one of your mates. We already experienced the bitter sting of rejection earlier this winter, when Randy Johnson signed in San Francisco, and now we get our faces rubbed in it again. Arizona fans are left staring at Felipe Lopez and Jon Garland, and trying uncomfortably to convince ourselves that this was an upgrade, because they have much nicer personalities after all. Who needs all those pesky Gold Gloves and Cy Young awards? They just clutter up the mantelpiece anyway.

Not that Orlando will be feeling much better, since O-Dawg basically shot himself in the foot here. Nick Piecoro says, "Before the 2008 season, the Diamondbacks offered Hudson...$5 million in ’08 and $24 million for the next three years... Apparently, Hudson responded with a huge counteroffer, a deal so unrealistic that it actually upset people with the Diamondbacks." Now, he's going to have to hope all the incentive clauses kick in to reach eight million, and for another career season, in a much less hitter-friendly park, and the economy to rebound before next winter. Of course, he'll then be almost thirty-two. But how is Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe, down on Jefferson, going to survive without their star customer?

Due to the signing, we snag the first-round draft pick from a divisional rival come June, The Dodgers had #17, the best possible Arizona could hope to get - the top fifteen are protected from becoming compensation, and we had #16 anyway, as our 'natural' slot. The supplemental pick which we also get for Hudson looks to be #35, and we will get #43 too, as another supplemental for the loss of Lyon. Four of the top forty-three choices isn't bad, though things may shake down a bit - not many big free agents left, save Manny (and if he goes back to LA, there'll be no impact) and Juan Cruz, who could only add to our final tally of selections. All told, not looking too bad for the next draft.

As for 2009, is it a sign of the apocalypse? It makes the Dodgers team better, that's for sure, but I'm not certain how much. The consensus of the projection systems sees Hudson putting up a line of .280/.349/.419, which is a far cry - almost 50 OPS points - off the .305/367/.450 he posted last year for Arizona [and I'm not sure how many of the projections have been adjusted to take into account a move to Chavez Ravine]. LA is now also in a situation somewhat like the Diamondbacks, with an extra, overpaid outfielder (Pierre, in their case), whose level of production seems uncertain. It will probably improve their infield defense, true - but that's an aspect of Hudson's game which the metrics almost all agree has been in sharp decline for the past few seasons.

It was hardly the Dodgers' most pressing need either, which remains a pitching staff decimated almost from top to bottom. Hudson only gets four or five plate appearances a game: their starter has to get through 25-30. I'm steadily growing more convinced that the Diamondbacks may not score the most runs or concede the fewest in the division, but we have the best balance. We're not like the Dodgers, all hit and no pitch, or the Giants, who're the complete opposite. Arizona can beat you with our bats or our arms. We only need one or the other to live up to realistic expectations on any given night.

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