Thursday, May 17, 2012

So It Has Come To This: Can Orlando Hudson Play Third Base?

We're over halfway through May with interleague play starting this weekend, and if you're like me, you're a White Sox fan that has grown rather tired of seeing Brent Morel in the lineup every day. While Brent has continued to prove himself more than capable of playing third base, but his bat, even at the back end of the lineup, has proven to be a bit of an albatross.

Heading into Thursday's game against the Angels, Morel had put up a line of .171/.207/.189 in 111 at bats. Of those 111 at bats, 39 (35%) have ended in a strikeout.

Now, normally production like this would lead to at best a benching, and at worst a demotion back to Triple-A. Except, even as fans have grown frustrated, that's not really a move that Robin Ventura can make. His two options on the bench that could take over at third base are Brent Lillibridge and Eduardo Escobar.

Heading into Thursday's game those two have combined to hit .174/.208/.217 in 69 at bats. In other words, they've both been just as terrible as Morel at the dish, even if they have managed a bit more "power."  That "power" being a double and a triple by Escobar.

The Sox don't exactly have a lot of depth behind Morel in the minors at the moment, either. There's Dallas McPherson and Dan Johnson down at Charlotte. McPherson is the natural third baseman, while Dan Johnson has spent some time there in his career.

McPherson is hitting .283/.362/.500 at Charlotte while Johnson has a line of .301/.470/.585. Both of those lines are miles ahead of what any of the Sox current third base prospects are doing.

Of course, that's in Charlotte.

In their MLB careers McPherson is a .241/.292/.466 hitter, which isn't terrible, but in his 30 MLB plate appearances since 2007, McPherson's line is .154/.267/.231, including a 2-for-15 stint with the Sox in 11 games last season.

Dan Johnson is a career .235/.334/.405 hitter in the bigs, but like McPherson, he hasn't been very good as of late. In his last two MLB seasons Johnson has hit .164/.281/.323. Plus, there's the whole "he's only played at third base in 9 games in his MLB career" thing as well.

The only bonus either could be sure to bring is that they're left-handed, which would bring a little more balance to the lineup, and both bring more power than our current options.

Still, neither is an ideal replacement.

And it's because of this that when I see the news that the San Diego Padres released Orlando Hudson on Thursday, my initial thought was "can he play third base?"

With any other organization, that's a thought that should be laughed at when said aloud. It's something you'd expect some meatball radio caller to propose, only to be laughed at by the hosts and hung up on.

But with the White Sox, it's something that merits consideration, and given that Kenny Williams has always seemed to be a fan of Hudson's, it's something he's likely considering as well.

And if he did sign him, it's not a move I'd be upset with him for.

That's just how bad the White Sox third base situation is right now.

In the words of Hawk, mercy.

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