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Hudson for Jackson – Is it really so bad?

2010/07/30

My reaction to the E-Jax for Hudson/Holmberg trade was “what the?” We’re still hoping for the other shoe to drop, but let’s face it, what sense does it make for the Nationals to trade Edwin Jackson for Adam Dunn? The next move will have to be completely unrelated.

Now that I’ve had some time to digest all of this, I can’t say that I think this move is 100% idiotic, but it takes some homeristic reasoning to make it agreeable. I’m not even sure I believe what I’m about to say, so take it for a grain of salt and consider this the rosiest commentary on this trade you might see on the interwebs.

Edwin Jackson has settled nicely into the role of a mid-rotation starter since he turned 25. He was fine in 2008; very good for Detroit last year. His 5.16 ERA doesn’t look that great, but I think a lot of that can be chalked up to some desert mirages. His xFIP is 4.27.

Jackson misses his fair share of bats with a good fastball and a nasty slider. His control is less than superb to put it mildly, highlighted by one of the ugliest no-hitters ever thrown in the history of baseball that he threw earlier in the year. But Jackson’s as flashy of a 4th starter as you’ll see. Coop’ll fix ‘em! Commence your poo-poo flinging!

Just for a moment, let’s give Kenny Williams the benefit of the doubt while we think about Dan Hudson. The collective trade reaction of the BA staffers on Hudson on Twitter was “meh”. It’s confusing, because last year they ranked him in their top 100, but they’re in the information collecting business, and they ought to know more about Hudson this year compared to last. Scouts don’t seem to be as high on Hudson as we nerds are.

From what little I’ve seen of Hudson, I can’t say I’ve been wowed, either. Just completely being a jerk for a second, Hudson is a two-pitch pitcher with bad control and some scary fly-ball tendencies, a recipe that doesn’t work well in the Cell. Most of his control issues could be chalked up to some rookie jitters, but some of it could be batters sitting out the change-up and waiting for when they are certain of the fastball. His slider has been nowhere to be seen. I think it’s possible, that just maybe, he might be overrated. There, I said it.

As someone who has followed the Cardinals for years, I see a lot of Anthony Reyes in Dan Hudson. Reyes had a similar history; he wasn’t majorly hyped in the draft and then opened eyes with a 91-94 MPH fastball with a great change-up in the minors. Depending on who saw him pitch and when, Reyes either had a good breaking ball or had a fringy one. His numbers in the minors were eye-popping, but some scouts weren’t sold that he was a future ace. He was pegged as a 3rd starter, which in scout speak I think must mean 4th or 5th starter.

In the majors Reyes worked exclusively with a fastball/change. Game 1 in the World Series aside, Reyes was lit up and it was unbelievably painful to watch. He’d make someone look like a fool with his change-up one minute, the next he’d be walking batters left and right, hoping to get them to chase his change out the zone.

Granted, Reyes had the ugliest mechanics I’ve ever seen, and his arm may still be unattached as I write this. I haven’t seen any of the internet pitching mechanics police cry foul on Hudson. Before Reyes broke down, they traded him for Luis Perdomo, a Double-A middle reliever that they didn’t even protect on their 40 man roster and they ended up losing him to San Francisco in the Rule V draft. (Perdomo later was claimed by San Diego). The Cardinals were not in love with Reyes and should have traded for him while they still could have got something worthwhile.

The truth is pitching prospects are hard to peg. TINSTAAPP is a beast. 43% of Top 76-100 pitching prospects bust completely. 52% of B grade prospects bust. Hudson probably fits in the B range now. 33% B grade pitchers become middle relievers mainly and only 8% become 2.5+ WAR pitchers per season during their team-controlled years.

Edwin Jackson was supposed to be what David Price is now. For a long while Jackson looked like a bust, then he put together a 4 WAR season last season before settling back into being a tantalizing LAIM*.

Hudson hasn’t been touted for having that kind of upside, and there’s a chance he provides a lot more value over the next 5 seasons for the Diamondbacks than what the Sox get for the next couple of months and 2011. But it’s clear that Kenny Williams doesn’t think that highly of Hudson, and he’s not alone in holding that opinion.

*LAIM=League Average Innings Muncher

Update: From now on I’m going to shut up before more information comes out. Keith Law tweets:

Heard from an exec not involved in the discussions that the White Sox are furious with the Nats over Edwin Jackson.

So it was really was supposed to be Hudson/Holmberg for Dunn essentially, but Mike Rizzo apparently enjoys messing with people. Or it was all just one big, crazy miscommunication.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. John permalink
    2010/07/31 11:35 AM

    Good to have you back Erik.
    I think what’s scaring me the most is that if the White Sox don’t flip him and end up keeping him, that our rotation is rather ex$pensive. E-Jack is paid $8MM next year. That scares me almost as much as that mohawk. Man, that thing sucks.

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