Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Orlando Hudson

Well, I do like the idea of stealing O-Dog to play 2B this late in free agency.  Nothing personal against Mike Fontenot, but their offensive production is close to a wash while Hudson's glove is in on a much higher level.  In any case, there are probably people within the organization that are on both sides of this, but its certainly been considered.  One article mentions as much, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe from 2/8/2009:

"Orlando Hudson, 2B, free agent: It's amazing that a player of this caliber remains unsigned, but lining up are the Cubs, White Sox, and Dodgers. A few Cubs organizational people really want Hudson, but the impending transfer of ownership from the Chicago Tribune to Tom Ricketts may hinder GM Jim Hendry's ability to do anything until it's complete."

I'm not trying to say that everyting the guy says is fact, but I would have to assume that he consulted various sources before he published it in an article in the Boston Globe.  What he's suggesting isn't all that wild either.  Fontenot is a nice 2B, but if the team can add an All-Star & GoldGlover at half-price and work him into the current payroll then the idea is probably worth exploring.  Nothing says that Fontenot couldn't still be a valuable utility player and bat off of the bench as well as insurance to guard against various injuries.  If the team can add Hudson for near the same cost as what they would have paid DeRosa if they kept him, then I would say that is one hell of a steal.  They sign Hudson the team gets; a replacement for DeRo at relatively the same cost, 3 pitching prospects from the Indians, and Mike Fontenot is still on the roster as well --> What exactly does the team have to lose?

I wouldn't be opposed to

I wouldn't be opposed to Hudson becoming a Cub. But maybe somebody with more time than me can compare him defensively with Fontenot via fangraphics ... I'm curious to see how much better he really is.

On the bright side, Hudson as a Cub resolves the middle infield questions - it becomes Fontenot plus I'm pretty sure he bats lefty.

He's a switch-hitter and 3

He's a switch-hitter and 3 time gold glove award winner, who would fit nicely in the 2nd spot in the batting order or is also capable of leading off. The teams they are supposedly competing against are also of particular interest. The Dodgers being serious competition in representing the NL in the World Series, and the crosstown rival Sox present even more motivation to keep Hudson from landing in the lap of some of the team's most heated rivals.

I'm aware that he's a GGer

I'm aware that he's a GGer and I appreciate his defense, but the GG award is primarily a popularity contest. Who can forget the year Raffy Palmeiro won for his stellar first base defense ... the 18-or-so times he played the position that year.

There's no contest about his glove being slick... but is he really projected to outplay Fontenot? That's what I want to learn.

Some gold gloves are given

Some gold gloves are given out as such, but most of the popularity contests you speak of take place among the offensive giants of the game. Most of which you won't find playing 2B, so I have little doubt that Hudson has earned his hardware. I'm not fangraphs savvy myself, but I would have to imagine that Hudson's glove brings much more value to a team than Fontenot's. Offensively, Hudson might have the edge as well, albeit a slight edge.

Fangraphs projections in

Fangraphs projections in terms of UZR ...

UZR (ultimate zone rating): The number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs and error runs combined.

UZR/150 (ultimate zone rate per 150 games): The number of runs above or below average a fielder is, per 150 defensive games.

Hudson: UZR: -6.1
UZR/150: -9.1

Fontenot: UZR: 5.3
UZR/150: 16.5

Positional: Fontenot: 1.9, Hudson 1.5
Value Runs: Fontenot: 31, Hudson 19.4
Value Wins: Fontenot: 3.1, Hudson 1.9

Please don't defend the Gold

Please don't defend the Gold Glove. It just isn't a valid argument.

Arguing that Fontenot's

Arguing that Fontenot's glove is as good as Orlando Hudson's is a valid argument though? Fangraphs is a sexy place, but I can't possibly agree with that in any way. Hudson is likely to land in LA, so we should have a full season to compare the two in the field, but from everything I've seen of the two with my own eyes, my money is on Hudson's glove going in. Fontenot currently goes into camp in competition with Aaron Miles for 2B, but you bring Hudson into the Cubs' camp and Miles/Fontenot would scatter like water-bugs from 2B and into utility roles and there's a reason for that - Orlando Hudson is a far better 2B than both.

Thing is, fangraphs actually

Thing is, fangraphs actually has specific means of measurement in order to determine defensive ability. You have somebody's reputation. Chances are you've only seen Hudson play a handful of times ... and have you ever even seen him in person?

But to answer your other question....

Hudson cemented his defensive reputation in 2004 - the year before he won his first G.G. when he had a UZR of 16.4.

In 2005, Tadahito Iguchi, Mark Ellis, and Adam Kennedy all had better UZR's than Hudson in the AL.

In 2006, six NL second baseman were statistically better defensively at second base. The best was Dan Uggla.

In 2007, seven guys were. The best by FAR was Chase Utley.

Again, I'm not saying anything bad about Hudson - I could get behind the argument that the Cubs would be better WITH him, but pound for pound Fontenot projects to be better on offense and defense.

Maybe Orlando Cabrera would be a better choice. His outstanding defense would make up for the possibility that Theriot might be better offensively.

Hudson isn't good

Hudson isn't good defensively but Orlando Cabrera is? I must have missed something here, but whatever. I could have swore Cabrera is average at SS at best. I have watched a fair amount of Hudson's games, especially his time in Arizona. The D'backs are a team I have followed the last few years because I like their young talent (Justin Upton, Chris Young, and formerly Carlos Quentin) and I like to listen to Mark Grace in the broadcast booth. I've had the Extra Innings Package for at least the last four seasons, so it isn't out of the norm for me to watch multiple games in a day. I may have a limited sampling of Hudson, but I would argue that fangraphs has an equally limited sampling of Fontenot as a Major Leaguer to be making projections from. Font's played in a whopping 220+ games over 3 seasons, so I don't know how any system can project what he'll do in nearly as many games in one season.

Cabrera - who has won two of

Cabrera - who has won two of your coveted Gold Glove awards, one as recently as 2007 - had a UZR of 14.2 in 2008 compared to Theriot whose UZR was -0.4.

Fangraphs takes the fun out of baseball debates because they are purely stats based. But ignoring Fontenot's PROJECTIONS, he was still a more valuable fielder in his limited play than Hudson was all season long. It's kind of hard to deny that.

But in terms of defense, it may have been AJ - or maybe Jason - who noted that defense doesn't slump. A batter might go 3 for 30 but he'll still be consistent on the field. It also doesn't make sense to suggest that a player would do worse defensively with regular play, as compared with a player who spends limited time at a position maybe once or twice a week.

Orlando Cabrera and Orlando

Orlando Cabrera and Orlando Hudson two of the hugely popular players that have won the popularity contest that is the Gold Glove Award that I love so much. Orlando Cabrera is 34 years old and will be 35 before the season ends, needless to say he is likely in decline defensively, offensively, and overall. Orlando Hudson meanwhile is 31 and won't turn 32 until Dec. and is a quality defensive 2B that has a few years left before his decline. The idea that Cabrera is good defensively and Hudson is not at this point in their careers is laughable. You never answered me either, I asked you what all goes into a player's zone rating.

The pure statistics don't

The pure statistics don't lie. Cabrera was defensively VERY good last year. Hudson, not so much. Living on his rep.

In '08, Cabrera had a positional value of 7.5 - to Hudson's 1.5, he had 34.8 value runs to Hudson's 19.4, and consequently he had 3.5 value wins to Hudson's 1.9. Considering his age and his availability this late in the off-season, it's not a far reach to wonder if Cabrera would sign a 1 or 2 year deal.

Again, there are plenty of articles about the stat. Go to fangraphs, do a google search, you'll find what you're looking for.

Cabrera may be good for what

Cabrera may be good for what balls he gets to, but his range is quite limited. So then yeah if the balls that he can't get to don't count then he's terrific.

Also again, I'll admit that

Also again, I'll admit that I don't know enough about the process of what fangraphs even does to calculate their projections. But I can't accept that because a player's zone rating is better than another then he is better defensively. What does a zone rating encompass? I don't think that one stat, regardless of how sophisticated it may be, can tell you who ultimately is the best defender, just my opinion though.

It's pretty complicated, but

It's pretty complicated, but there are articles out there about it. Is it the end-all be-all of determining defensive ability? For now it is, maybe there will be even more accurate measurements at some point in the future. But I would trust a statistic based on a number of measurable factors over popular opinion, which is what the Gold Glove really is all about.

I'll trust what I see before

I'll trust what I see before I trust a stat that I don't understand. There are many factors that have to be taken into consideration when determining the best fielder at each position, and one statistic just doesn't do it for me. Games played, a players range, fielding percentage, putouts, double plays, errors, fielding chances, difficulty of plays, and many other things are taken into account - basically more than what can be rolled into one statistic. I'm not saying its not a viable statistic, I just wouldn't live and die with one number.

I'm not really sure how you

I'm not really sure how you can tell us "what can be rolled into one statistic."

Like a lot of fans, myself included, you're inclined to "believe what you see" - but what have you seen, exactly? If Len Kasper and Bob Brenley told Cub fans 5 times a game that Theriot was an outstanding defensive shortstop, then there would be a lot of Cub fans who'd be left feeling surprised and disappointed when Theriot never won the Gold Glove.

Hudson has a rep for being a good defender, but so did Palmeiro.

But rather than be quick to discount "a stat (you) don't understand" - why not try to learn about the stat and understand how it measures defensive ability?

If you came to me tomorrow and said "Kurt! Have you heard about BURN? It's this amazing stat that incorporates a number of factors to determine the best base stealer! Did you know that Player X is better than Player Y, despite Player Y's long history of successful base-stealing?" Rather than immediately discount what you've told me, I'd probably do a ton of research on BURN.

Problem in this case is that you are already prejudiced against highly analytical stats in general and UZR in particular. I imagine that when you find and read up on it, regardless of what you learn you'll try to poke holes in it because it doesn't conform with what you've "seen."

If that's the case, then this website is for you.

Its all good man, I'm not

Its all good man, I'm not trying to argue with you. I watch games, I read articles, and I understand statistics; I don't need a history lesson. I'm not wowed by statistics thats all. That's just me, who cares? I figured if you claimed all these players as being better than someone based on this one lonely statistic, then I would assume that you would at least know or understand what the stat was. It isn't really what I've seen as much as just being realistic; Hudson is a defender that has got it done at the major leagues at high level over a number of years. Mike Fontenot has an incredibly limited sampling, where he looked good at 2B in 2008 but 2007 was a bit of a different story, and in any case he hasn't played in more than half the team's games in any season to date. So, it is what it is, based on whats been shown on the field its pretty hard to argue Mike Fontenot as a better defensive 2B than Orlando Hudson at this point in time. Hudson gets to more balls, has a better arm, and a better glove; I'm not sure what else you want the guy to do for you on defense but he does it all better than Mike Fontenot.

I went ahead and did a little research

Froma link from the UZR glossary entry:

- it's best to consider a player's UZR as +/- 5 points. There's a fair amount of variance due to sample size and the nature of the sample.

- Colin indicates in the comments that it's probably better to use a three year rolling average. Other than the fact that more stats are always better, this certainly would help to work out the variance. However, I would agree with HC, Fontenot's rating in UZR is probably of limited value (although not valueless).

It's hard for me to get my head around the fact that they finally are starting to understand defense. 10 years ago this certainly wasn't the case. But anyway, the evidence is still against Hudson being a good defender and the jury is out on Fontenot, as far as I'm concerned.

That being said, I'm surprised you don't want to find reasons to use Fontenot. Who doesn't like Mighty Mike? He's little! He has surprising pop! What's not to love?

And a link

Who deserved the gold glove

Who deserved the gold glove award ahead of Orlando Hudson at 2B in the AL/NL in 2005, 2006, & 2007?

#2 spot

I think he'd be a decent #2 as well, though a nice addition, not a necessary one. my pro/con for him is as follows:

Cons:
* really big on GIDP, it could feel almost like having another D-Lee around, except with less power
* just coming back from wrist injury
* first name Orlando. Ever fly there? 150 kids and 30 bad parents on one plane: BAD

Pro:
* good OBP, low K's. The low k's could be one of those contributing factors to the high GIDP. Sometimes stats are misleading, his GIDP could be one of those times
* nice D
* middle name Thill: Orlando "Thill the Thrill" Hudson.

fangraphs has O-Dog as below

fangraphs has O-Dog as below average with the glove. The difference between his and Fontenot's is probably worth about one win, in Fonty's favor--but maybe even two. Bats are comparable, I guess? Hudson's done it before, yes, but he's been dogged by injuries--and come on, people, Lil' Babe Ruth has POP!

HC says, "Cabrera may be

HC says, "Cabrera may be good for what balls he gets to, but his range is quite limited."

Range factor is pretty useless in terms of measuring a fielder's defensive abilities. Hell, Adam Dunn had a GREAT range factor in 2008 as a right fielder.

The article Jason linked below is pretty good. It says on Range Factor, "This was convenient at the time, because we had no other context but the game. The problem is that a game is not necessarily nine innings for each fielder. As well, each fielder is dependent on his pitching staff and 'luck' for opportunities."

The list of things that go into UZR is so long that I won't bother transcribing it here. But according to the writer of Jason's article, the stat is so detailed that he even considers the following factors: park, certain runners/outs combinations, handedness of the batter, groundball/flyball tendencies of the pitchers, the speed (soft, medium, or hard) of the batted ball.

Like I said before ... they very well might determine a better defensive measurement at some point in the future, but it seems that for the moment UZR is as good as it gets. Defending the value of something like Range Factor over UZR would be the equivilent of arguing on behalf of the Model T Ford over the Toyota Prius.

Anyway, I doubt that we're going to put to bed the argument of defensive quality in players, but progressive thinkers side with UZR - apparently universally, from everything I can read - and discounting such a detailed stat over whave we've seen on TV or whatever seems like a brash mistake.

How will Fontenot do defensively next year? We can predict it about as accurately as how he does *offensively* - it's a mystery. But how he did in 2007 was this: better than Orlando Hudson.

Like I said, I'm not necessarily opposed to Hudson playing at Wrigley, but if we're looking to upgrade our team overall in the middle infield, then Theriot seems to be the weak link and Cabrera seems to be a genuinely good alternative - assuming he'd accept a short deal for moderate pay. He's got better pop than Theriot, he steals about as many bases, he is likely to have a similar batting average and OBP, and he's a world better defensively. Besides, Theriot could then move into a platoon role with Fontenot at second - where his weak throwing arm wouldn't be an issue - and the Cubs would be an even stronger team in '09.

Or we could just buy into the myths of range factor and reputation and put our eggs in the Hudson basket.

In my view, stats can used

In my view, stats can used to say what you want them to say. Which is exactly how a player such a Fontenot can be viewed as a better defender than Orlando Hudson. Projections aren't real and they aren't realistic, its a best guess similar to a weather forecast. How can a player that plays in 1/3 to half of a teams' games be considered a more valuable fielder than a player that starts in 100, 120, or 140 games? That is completely absurd. If this projection system is even close to accurate, then I would bet just about anything that Mike Fontenot's Darth Vader zone rating is in for a large correction following a full year in the field. Seriously though, I completely understand where you're coming from. The stat likely is widely accepted and has some use, but at this point in time I simply don't understand it, which is likely at my own detriment. My opinion, in this case, has an ignorant foundation in that I don't understand zone ratings, but I stand by it nonetheless.

Projections are very real

Projections are very real and very realistic. Ask Nate Silver and PECOTA about the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008.

for that matter

weather forecasts are pretty damn accurate.

more of a science, I wasn't

more of a science, I wasn't trying to offend any meteorologists or weather guys out there.

I admitted I don't

I admitted I don't understand the statistic, and I completely respect what those guys do. Most of what they are able to comprehend is way over my head, and the things they are coming up with continues to advance. But at some point beyond statistics and computers and projections, a game has to be played on the field. What they do is impressive, but baseball is a game not a science. No player plays each day the same as the last, let alone the same season as the one before it. Things change. There is a human element to this game that looms large even on the pros. I'm not sure that Nate Silver or anyone would bet the farm on Mike Fontenot's glove at this point given his sample size. I know I've seen Fontenot play and he's simply not as good a fielder as what he's currently being touted, after a full season or two of playing I think his numbers might come down to more realistic levels. Simply my opinion.

Projections have their

Projections have their limits but as AJ notes, Nate Silver got pretty good at it before he went on to accurately project the latest presidential election.

I wouldn't trust an early season projection to win the World Series, but it's a safe bet that the vast majority of the time projections accurately predict a team's record.

But that said, while not using projections we can still say that in 2008 Fontenot was better in limited play. It's not a stretch to trust that he'll play well in '09 too. I don't think the Cubs have any holes right now, but probably their weakest position is shortstop - which is the primary reason I'd rather see them upgrade there if another upgrade is to be made.

Anyway, I get your point too and it's conceivable that in a different park with different pitchers, Hudson would be a defensive asset ... I just think that at this point he's getting by on rep and Fontenot deserves a chance to build a rep for himself, too.

Again I said it was nothing

Again I said it was nothing personal towards Mike Fontenot, but he and Orlando Hudson are on two different levels. Fontenot is a good player and I like him, but his performance could vary greatly in either direction. He could outperform expectations just as soon as he doesn't meet expectations, no one knows on Feb 11th. Orlando Hudson has gotten it done at the highest level consistently for a few years now; outside of repeated injuries to his wrist/hand area he's produced. I also said from the start Fontenot doesn't have to go anywhere if the team signs Hudson, especially if they sign him to a short-term deal, as Fontenot could act as a utility player-3b,SS,2B- for a season and then take over for Hudson after 2009. If the Cubs are trying to win now, signing Orlando Hudson is a clear improvement at 2B for 2009, not giving Fontenot his shot because he deserves it. Orlando Cabrera, I honestly don't think would be an improvement in the short or long-term at SS. Cabrera is too old and I would be leery of him being a clubhouse cancer type of character.

The cool thing is that the

The cool thing is that the Cubs are starting the season in such a position of strength that they can afford to give Fontenot a month or two to prove himself as a starter.

Worst case scenario, he doesn't work out and goes back to the bench in favor of ::shudders:: Aaron Miles while Hendry works a trade for a good second baseman.

Wouldn't you agree though

Wouldn't you agree though that simply by signing Hudson and keeping Fontenot, second base becomes a strength going into the season? As previously stated, the cubs are a strong team, with room still to improve up the middle of the field. Acquiring Hudson takes away some uncertainty, leaving only question marks at SS and CF going forward. The team makes the move now and they are one step ahead at 2B, with the freedom to devote their time to strengthening the team at other positions or in other ways later, like the trade deadline. It would be an incremental improvement, and an addition of a piece that would do nothing other than help the team win games.

I already absolutely think

I already absolutely think second base is a strength going into the season. Actually I think there is a *very* good chance that Fontenot will put up better numbers than Hudson in the '09 season. In fact earlier this winter I argued that he should even put up better numbers than DeRosa.

Point is, even if the worst case scenario happens and Fontenot can't do it as a starter, the Cubs have the luxury of one of the deepest lineups in baseball and they can afford to make a trade in June or July.

Plus the Cubs 2nd favorite

Plus the Cubs 2nd favorite trade target, B-Rob, is working towards signing an extension with the Orioles. If Roberts signs he likely isn't available via a trade, and if he doesn't sign he likely wouldn't be available until the trade deadline. The second scenario is what the cubs should pray for. If Roberts is unable to sign an extension, then I think the O's would want to trade him and get something out of him before he hits the free agent market. This would be the only situation I would want the cubs to get Roberts, as a rent-a-player from July until the end of the year. But its a difficult proposition all around: the cubs have to give up talent to get a player for 3+ months and Roberts also will be no cheap prize to keep around beyond 09 as he's currently asking for a 4 yr $40+M extension. So the problem is, if Roberts even becomes available, should the team even try to acquire him? And if he isn't available, then who else potentially could be? Dan Uggla or Kelly Johnson could possibly come available, but its anyone's guess.

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