La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Thoughts on Orlando Hudson

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 5, 2010 - 8:43 AM

 In less than two weeks, the Twins will head to Fort Myers, Fla., with what will be the strongest roster since Ron Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002. Expectations should be high, even higher now that Orlando Hudson has agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal.

Hudson gives the the Twins a potentially uber-productive top of the order as he settles in between leadoff hitter Denard Span and all-everything Joe Mauer in the No. 3 hole. Behind the sit Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Delmon Young, J.J. Hardy and Nick Punto/Brendan Harris.

Hudson, at age 32, has declined some in recent years. But he's still good. And ESPN's Buster Olney pointed out a couple factors that could help Hudson have a productive season. No. 2 hitters in the lineup generally see more fastballs with Mauer in the on-deck circle.

I'll take that one step further and point out that this man and his .390 on base percentage means speed will be on the bases before Hudson and also lead to more fastballs. Life should be good to Hudson, between Span and Mauer. The only other people I'd like to be between are Pink and Beyonce at the Grammy Awards after party.

Joe C. has tracked the Twins' payroll during the offseason. He had it around $91.4 million before Hudson agreed, so that would make it $96.4. But wait. What players like Jim Thome, Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano reach incentive levels. The Twins 2010 payroll could wind up over $98 million.

As one Twins official texted me last night, ``No one can say the club isn't doing everything possible to win.'' Well, I think the Twins have always talked a good game but really have followed through this offseason. Actually, I'll give them credit going back to midseason last year, when they responded to clubhouse concerns and made moves for Carl Pavano, Orlando Cabrera, Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay.

What does this mean for the Twins' roster? Can't wait to see how the Twins make room on the 40-man for O-Dog. Will they try to sneak someone like Luke Hughes through waivers? They really should look into trading someone (Glen Perkins? Brendan Harris? Alexi Casilla?).

What number will O-Dog wear? He's worn No. 3, No. 1 and No. 13 in his career. No. 3 is retired (Harmon Killebrew) . Jerry White wears No. 13.

That leaves No. 1, which has been reserved for Trevor Plouffe - but that doesn't matter because Plouffe isn't in the majors. I wonder if the Hudson and the Twins would consider having a little fun and issue him No. 0 for O-Dog. Hope Junior Ortiz won't mind.

That reminds me. Alexi Casilla already has handed over No. 25 to Jim Thome. Thome plans on giving Casilla a gift in return.

Super Bowl summit? In our efforts to confirm the signing yesterday, I took a stab in the dark and reached out to a former teammate of Hudson's  to see it he had been in touch with the second baseman. Not only had he been in touch, they are planning on hanging out in Miami this weekend for the Super Bowl.

It just so happens that Joe Mauer and Denard Span will be at the Super Bowl, too. What a coincidence. That's your new top of the order.

That's all I have this morning. I have to attend a funeral today, so Joe C is going to handle the Hudson teleconference.



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