Nico made an intriguing suggestion the other day at the bottom of EddieVegas_NRAF's The bottom of the shortstop barrel post: that the A's should explore signing free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, and convert him to shortstop. WaddellCanseco did some yeoman basic research in that exchange (which exchange, I think, may have gotten overlooked at the bottom of that post; hence, my
shamelessly ripping it off on a slow-news offseason Saturday elevating their good work to the front page for a thorough discussion).
The upshot is this:
Cabrera Hudson (thanks, WC) has an established track record as a genuine, non-Michael Young/Rafael Palmeiro Gold Glove defender at 2B, and is demonstrably capable of putting up a .750-.800 OPS year in and year out that's heavily dependent on a .275-.300 AVG -- in other words, about the same or better batter than Orlando Cabrera, and with better defense -- albeit, of course, at a different position which (a) requires more range and a better arm, and (b) he's never played in the majors or minors.
He's also available, and likely cheap and undervalued. (And, yes, that undervaluing is as a second baseman, not as a shortstop; the position switch, if it worked, would make him less of -- though still likely -- a bargain.)
The biggest issue, to me (and as pointed out by several commenters in the initial thread) would be his range covering ground at SS. By all indications (fan projections plus the fact that he came up in the Blue Jays system playing both 2B and 3B) he has a decent arm -- and, heck, if David Eckstein can be a starting Major League shortstop ...
Personally, I think the idea is worth a shot -- as in, Beane should explore the idea with Hudson and Hudson's agent. Obviously, if Hudson isn't even interested in the plan, then it's a nonstarter. Given the lack of interest in him, though, I would have to think that he'd at least consider it -- not only would it give him a job more quickly for '09-10 (-11?), but it would help position him down the road for more and better offers, as he'd demonstrate the flexibility (psychologically and physically) to play SS, could increase his WAR if he plays competent defense at SS, and would instantly make him one of the leading SSs in the game, given (as we've all seen from beane's fruitless search to replace Crosby) the paucity of talent at the position right now.
And here's one last argument in favor of signing Hudson: he'd provide a massive insurance policy in the event that Mark Ellis isn't able to come back successfully at full strength at 2B. I know that all publicly disseminated signs point to Ellis rehabbing successfully after his surgery, and that Beane did indeed get a good value deal when he extended/re-signed Ellis, but ... I have a bit of a Jermaine Dye vibe myself from Ellis's extension.
In any event, what's the mass opinion: explore signing Hudson, or is it folly to try converting him to SS? I would think that, at this point, a reasonable 2-3 year deal at, say, $7M-$9M per (to give him a premium to entice him to switch positions) would do it.