Orlando Hudson hasn't officially signed with the White Sox yet, but the picture on his official Twitter account and website shows him wearing a Photoshopped White Sox hat, so I guess we can start talking about it.
(That's a testament to Hudson's people. Jesse Crain signed with the White Sox 1 1/2 years ago, and his links page still points to Twins sites.)
Hudson's been a second baseman his entire career, which has thrown a number of people for a loop. Jon Heyman thought the move was intended to "light a fire" under Gordon Beckham, while Phil Rogers tossed out the idea of a wackadoo reverse platoon at second.
Thankfully, Beckham -- hitting .250/.306/.461 in May -- will not be disturbed by the Hudson acquisition, whenever it happens. Robin Ventura said Hudson will be involved in the "mix" at third, which probably means he'll get as much playing time as his talent allows.
Hudson has never played third in the majors, but it's not stopping the Sox, nor should it be considered weird -- at least if you've followed the Sox closely enough.
The Blue Jays raised Hudson as a third baseman, and he logged 242 games at third in Toronto's farm system before they moved him to second. Given his minor-league experience, it means that even though he's never played third in a major-league game, he has still logged way more time than several players the White Sox have assigned to that position over the past seven seasons.
Ever since Joe Crede's back gave out, the Sox have thrown a lot of players at third base in the hopes of getting some measure of adequacy. Some played the position their entire professional lives, while others had heard of it. Churning through Baseball-Reference.com, here's the list of White Sox starters and primary backups, listed in chronological order with the amount of third-base experience they brought to the job, majors and minors:
- Pablo Ozuna: 0 MLB, 10 MiLB
- Josh Fields: 0 MLB, 361 MiLB
- Juan Uribe: 27 MLB, 1 MiLB
- Wilson Betemit: 237 MLB, 198 MiLB
- Gordon Beckham: 0 MLB, 8 MiLB
- Mark Teahen: 363 MLB, 352 MiLB
- Omar Vizquel: 20 MLB, 0 MiLB
- Brent Morel: 21 MLB, 140 MiLB
- Brent Lillibridge: 5 MLB, 0 MiLB
- Eduardo Escobar: 0 MLB, 0 MiLB
That's a funny-looking list for a number of reasons. The weirdest thing about it is that the three guys with the most experience at third also happened to be the three worst. By far.
It also means that Hudson fits right in with the White Sox's plans. He's never played third in the majors? He's not alone. His arm strength is suspect? Well, he has company there, too.
Hudson could be a disaster at third. His arm strength is suboptimal for the position, and it's been a long time since he's he's had to read the ball off the bat from the left side, not to mention cutoffs, bunts and such. The Sox should be prepared for this fate, although the league-minimum obligation shouldn't be much of an anchor.
Still, nobody should knock it until Robin Ventura tries it. Given the assortment of guys the Sox have played at third over the last seven years, there's no rhyme or reason to who thrives and who fails.