Not that Daniel Hudson was a steal, it’s just that the Chicago White Sox seemed to have other priorities.
Simply, the Diamondbacks had their eye on the right-hander, and the Sox focused in another direction.
Hudson had bounced between the Sox and AAA Charlotte the better part of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. After starting last year with Charlotte, and compiling an 11-4, 3.47 ERA, he was recalled on to the majors on July 11, and 19 days later sported Sedona Red.
The deal to bring the 24 year-old to the desert was a move to both the Chicago and Arizona organizations had clear priorities, and those requirements would best be served with a player transaction. Through scouting, intelligence and due diligence, Hudson was clearly on the Diamondbacks’ radar screen.
“We were aware of Hudson, and what he could bring to our team,” said Jerry DiPoto, the D-backs current VP of Scouting and Player Development. “There were a few issues involved in making the deal, but the bottom line is Daniel is a great competitor and we knew what he were getting.”
By the All-Star break last season, the Sox were looking for a veteran pitcher and the Diamondbacks were in the rebuilding stage. DiPoto was the Arizona interim general manager at the time, and pulled the trigger on the deal. Chicago had its sights on the D-backs’ Edwin Jackson, who had a 6-10 record but a spiraling 5.16 ERA. The trade was made just before the end of the July 31 trading deadline.
Though he no-hit the Tampa Bay Rays on June 25, Jackson was expendable, and an answer in an interesting trivia question. Jackson became the second pitcher in major league history to be traded during the same season in which he pitched a no-hitter. The other was the Cardinals’ Cliff Chambers in 1951 when he was dealt to the Pirates, and Joe Garagiola (going to Pittsburgh) was part of that transaction.
In making Hudson available, it appeared Chicago was inpatient in their effort to secure an experienced starter, and but, at the same time, aware of Hudson’s potential.
“I saw (Hudson) in spring training for maybe a few days but didn’t pay much attention to him,” said Ozzie Guillen, the Sox manager on a recent visit to Chase Field. “I really don’t know the players until the end of spring training, and that’s when we get the roster together. We had to make a move and knew (Hudson) would be a pretty good pitcher.”
Clearly, the Diamondbacks, even in the pre-Kevin Towers era where pitching dominates most transactions, hoped Hudson would be a gem in the rough. Turned out that wishful thinking turned to reality, and as the D-backs approach the second half of the season and a potential stretch drive for NL West division honors, Hudson and right-hander Ian Kennedy have emerged as one of the top 1-2 starters in the league.
“(Hudson) has the ability to compete,” said Kirk Gibson, the D-backs manager. “Plus, he demonstrates leadership to his teammates. He may not show it when talking (to the media), but he is highly competitive. This guy hates to lose.”
Though Hudson was one of the best pitchers in the National League after the trade (7-1, 2.45 ERA in 2010), the current season started out in reverse. Hudson dropped his first four starts but since April 28, he is 9-1 with two no decisions. He, along with Kennedy, are on a track to each win 20 games, and if that happens, it would be a first in franchise history.
Still, Hudson said the start was an aberration, and clearly feels uncomfortable about talking about his April starts.
“What happened was early in the season,” Hudson said during the D-backs last home stand. “You just have to push through it. It’s a long season, and I knew things would even out.”
Eventually, conditions have leveled to the point where Hudson could be in friendly competition with Kennedy as to the number one starter.
D-BACKS PROSPECTS IN FUTURES GAME
As part of the All-Star Game events, the Future Game is a highlight. This involves the top porpspects in competition for nine innnings. Scheduled for Sunday July 10, 3 p.m. at Chase Field, team USA have two representatives from the Diamondbacks organziation, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and left-handed pitcher Tyler Staggs.
Goldschmidt, a 23 year old out of The Woodlands, Texas, has been among the leaders in home runs, RBIs and batting average for Mobile in the AA Southern League. Skaggs, at 19, was part of the Dan Haren-Joe Saunders trade last season, and came over from the Angels. As a starter for A Visalia, Skaggs has a strikeout-to-innings ratio of nearly 1.5.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Diamondbacks are in the middle of their biggest schedule challenge of the season. After engaging the Tigers in Detroit June 26, they return to Chase Field for three with Cleveland before embarking on a 10 game trip to Oakland, Milwaukee and St. Louis. The trip should be especially challenging as the A’s swept the Giants June 17-19 in Oakland, and the Brewers and Cardinals are fighting for the NL Central Division lead.
Then, it’s the All-Star Game at Chase Field July 12 and a more favorable schedule. Following the mid summer classic, the D-backs are home for 20 for their next 29 games. The Dodgers, Brewers and Rockies provide competition for the initial home stand after the break from July 15 to 24.