Mailbag: Hudson has some trade value

Mailbag: Hudson has some trade value

With the recent call-up of Aaron Hill, I've been hearing rumors about the departure of Orlando Hudson. I don't understand why any GM would want to trade a potential Gold Glover to make room for a younger player who needs to adjust to a new position. How valid is this rumor, and if so, when do you see this happening? -- Ivan Y., Scarborough, ON

With Corey Koskie out for six weeks, one thing's a lock. The Blue Jays aren't trading any of their infield pieces until they can gauge his recovery. After that, all bets are off. There's only room for so many infielders, and general manager J.P. Ricciardi isn't likely to deal the two shortstops he drafted and developed (Russ Adams and Hill).

There are sentimental and practical reasons for that. For one, both Adams and Hill are still unproven. They're both just beginning to adjust to the big leagues and wouldn't fetch all that much in trade value. Still, one thing is certain: Both have better offensive pedigrees than Hudson. They're both patient and athletic line-drive hitters, which plays directly into Ricciardi's philosophy.

Hudson, on the other hand, is just about complete in the maturation process. What you see right now is likely what you'll get for the rest of his career. He's a top-notch defensive talent with a solid if unspectacular bat -- and he's just starting to get expensive. Hudson will be eligible for arbitration before next season, while Adams and Hill are still years from that point.

Not only that, the pair of youngsters are both versatile and can likely shift to other infield slots as necessary. Hill's filling in at third while Koskie's hurt, but he could also shift to second base in the event of a trade. Adams has looked fine at shortstop this season, but he could always move to another slot if the Jays prefer Hill.

Just look at the salary landscape: Toronto's committed to Koskie for the next few years, thanks to a multi-year deal in the offseason. Eric Hinske has two more years remaining under contract, locked in at a relatively expensive price. When you consider his production and his salary situation, Hudson is unquestionably the team's best trade chip.

Does that mean they'll trade him? No, not necessarily. Ricciardi has as good a fix on Hudson's value as anyone on the league. It's not that he'd "want to trade" a potential Gold Glover, but he's well aware that you have to give up talent to add it on the other end.

The upshot is all positive: Hudson has marked himself as a difference-maker and a keeper at second base -- whether it's in Toronto or otherwise.

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I know it's early, but who do you see representing Toronto in the All-Star Game this season? -- Fraser H., Waterloo ON

That's easy, Fraser. Roy Halladay is this team's All-Star, barring injury, but the Jays may merit two representatives this year. If they do, Shea Hillenbrand has already stated his case at a hitting-heavy position. Toronto's DH has been one of the league's hottest hitters through seven weeks of the season.

The NL transplant batted safely in 32 of his first 40 starts and only experienced two two-game skids without a hit. With Vernon Wells struggling and Corey Koskie hurt, Hillenbrand's been the one constant in Toronto's lineup this season. Hudson, perhaps the league's best defender at second base, may also merit consideration for the Midsummer Classic.

I noticed that after Gabe Gross's stellar spring and subsequent 4 day "reward" in the majors that he is doing pretty badly in the minors. Is Gross hurt or just upset with being demoted after such a stellar (and record-breaking) spring? -- Yoni Sapir, Montreal

It's true. Gross was unquestionably Toronto's hottest hitter this spring, when he tied a franchise record for homers during the exhibition season. But then the games started for real, and the former first-round pick has gone through an extended slump.

It's tempting to draw some easy conclusions from the six-week progress report, but that doesn't do the game justice. Gross is healthy and understands his place in the organization just fine -- he may be scuffling, but it's not because his feelings were hurt about being sent back to Triple-A Syracuse.

The Jays always expected Gross to be their next call-up, a situation that changed when Koskie went down. Now, he'll have to fight off John-Ford Griffin just to be next in the outfield pecking order. Statistically speaking, the real Gross is somewhere in between his spring numbers and early-season cold spell.

Every time a runner reaches first base the comment is made that the pitcher is pitching from "the stretch." What is meant by this and how does it help hold the runner? Also some pitchers have trouble pitching from the stretch, so why bother and go after the hitter instead? -- Al N., St. Andrews, N.B.

The stretch is just a streamlined delivery to home plate. Instead of going through an entire windup -- think Dontrelle Willis' leg kick -- the pitcher lines up with his back foot on the rubber and strides toward home while he throws. This method cuts down on the ball's flight time as it gets from the pitcher's glove to the catcher's glove.

Consequently, it also cuts down the amount of time a baserunner has to get a good jump. It's only a matter of split seconds, but that margin is all it takes to throw somebody out. As for pitchers having trouble from the stretch, that's a rare if ever-present malady in the big leagues. After Spring Training, throwing from the stretch is routine for most pitchers and isn't much of a problem for most pitching coaches.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.