As a Giants fan, I saw this type of situation coming and it was why I was not excited about bringing Huff back, particularly for two years. One year would have been ok, but apparently someone else offered him more and Sabean felt like he had to match.
One of the reasons the Giants did so well last year was not Huff. Sure, he had a great year. But the strategy in the ’09 off-season wasn’t “Sign Aubrey Huff.” It was “Take a one year flier on a 1B with some upside coming off a bad year.” (Technically, the strategy was offer too much money to Adam Laroche. Luckily he didn’t take it.) A one-year flier should have been the strategy again this past off-season. You had a fairly large market (Berkman, Pena, Branyan, Laroche again, Lee, Cantu, etc.), all of whom could have been got for only one year, and at equal to or less than Huff is getting.
A one-year deal would have given the Giants much more flexibility going into next off-season, when Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez are arbitration eligible and the team has about 73 million tied up in 6 players (Zito, Rowand, Cain, Wilson, F. Sanchez and Huff). Factor in the fact that their top prospect (Belt) plays 1B and there was plenty of reason not to give an inconsistent 34 year old coming off one of his best years a two year contract.
And that was all without factoring in Huff’s early season performance. As with Zito, the contract is signed and the Giants need to get what they can out of the situation. Moving Belt down makes sense, while he’s had solid at-bats he is not producing. Getting Huff back to 1B will improve the OF defense, which the Giants’ fly-ball heavy pitching staff will appreciate. Maybe he’ll hit better if he doesn’t have to worry about how ugly he looks in the OF.
Not exactly science, but I wonder if–especially because he’s had such a time of it in RF–the move back to first might allow Huff to relax, focus on his hitting, and get back to a level more reminiscent of last season.
I’m proudly in line behind Sam. The Giants have no qualms about bruising egos in order to put the best team on the field. Bochy did this more last year than I can recall any manager doing in recent memory (benching Sandoval, repeatedly leaving Zito off postseason rosters, etc.).
I’m not thrilled at the idea of sending down Belt. Yes, he’s struggled on the stat sheet; but he’s hit some balls hard, and he’s continuing to see a ton of pitches. Add to that his plus defense and some sneak attack speed and great baserunning instincts, and it’s not hard to see how he can continue to help hte major league roster at the moment. He offers a lot more to the team than Darren Ford does — even with Torres ailing and Huff and Burrell having a clank contest at the corners, Ford is still pretty expendable given Rowand and Schierholtz’s defensive capabilities.
But even if they do opt to send down Belt, I still don’t think this is a longterm problem for the Giants. They have a ton of interchangeable parts, and they could conceivably give Belt more time in the OF if Huff starts hitting again with a return to the infield. They could capitalize on Rowand’s resurgence and flip him for some rotation depth (a AAAA starter or something).
Long story short: the Giants have a lot of ways they can resolve the problem laid out in this article — if indeed there is a problem at all.
Comment by Oddibe McBlauser — April 19, 2011 @ 4:52 pm
maybe i can’t read charts very well, but his yearly performance shows pretty consistently good perfromance since he established himself as a legit major leaguer–with the lone exception of ’09 (i’m ignoring ’11 as it’s only a few weeks old).
I’m in the line that says let’s give Huff a few consecutive starts at 1B before we declare he’s having a bad season. The Belt experiement was a noble thought, but it turned out to be very disruptive, mainly becsause if forced Huff to play positions where he just isn’t as good as he is at 1B. Look for the team to gel around a starting lineup that includes Huff at 1B, Ross in RF, Torres in CF and Burrell in LF with Nate and Rowand as the reserve OF’s.
There is a lot to critique about this article – the SSS premise on which it rests being the most obvious, but what exactly would the author have had the Giants do differently? If your Brian Sabean would you really want to let your World Championship defense rest on the hopes of a rookie that hasnt had a MLB at bat and has less than 50 at bats in AAA? Of course not. And after you have made that decision what were the alternatives. Paying Carlos Pena 10 million? I’d rather have Huff at 2/22 with his ability to play LF (albeit poorly) if Belt forces the issue.
In contrast to the articles conclusion – the Giants are in the ENVIABLE position of having to many 2-3 win players for a 25 man roster. That is not a bad thing.
Yeah I don’t see the problem here either. The Huff extension at the time was not great, but not terrible either. He was projected for 2-2.5 WAR and got 2/22 on the open market. It was mildly first-guessed at the time, but not killed, and there’s no call to second-guess it now just because of a slow start.
The Giants have an abundance of satisfactory OF options, so Huff or Belt in the OF was not necessary. It was only a workaround to deal with OF injuries and give Belt a shot. It was never a long term solution.
All the Giants need is one of Belt/Huff to give reasonable production at 1B. It’s pretty obvious that the best plan is to put Belt in AAA and Huff at 1B, and leave the outfield to the outfielders. If Huff is absolutely awful for much longer than 66 PAs then you bench him and bring up Belt. But it’s more likely that he hits at the .349 Zips has him at, and the Giants are just fine.
To me the more interesting question for the Giants is how the OF playing time shakes out when everyone is healthy. Ross plays full time for sure, but I’m certain of nothing else. Imo it should be Burrell Torres Ross with Nate for defense and PH/spot and Rowand PH/spot, but Rowand has been hitting (especially for average) so he may have disrupted things. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Burrell benched.
Yeah, that’s a great story, but unless yesterday signified a miraculous new hitting ability for him, he’s going to be the 5th OF. He’s just starting today because they want to wait til tomorrow to activate Ross.
“One of the reasons the Giants did so well last year was not Huff.”
Comment by Adios Pelota — April 20, 2011 @ 12:39 am
think Rowand has to perform well for more than few weeks…who wants to choke on $24 mil even for a AAAA non-prospect?
Comment by Adios Pelota — April 20, 2011 @ 12:43 am
agree with that….was an overpay for Huff but he gives them versatility…
end of article is just silly:
The Giants are not in an enviable position right now. Sympathy runs low, because it is of their own creation.
who writes this kind of drivel? makes no sense….the Giants actually do appear to be in an enviable situation, many interchangeable players that can contribute and they probably won’t even miss Belt since he’s had 1 frickin RBI outside of that 3 run HR a few weeks ago….they should hit 90 wins at least and might even hit upper 90’s…good team chemistry and unlike in previous 5 years or so if they get down 3-4 runs early, the game is NOT over.
as far as the sympathy comment i’m not even sure what the point is – who the hell cares if you have others’ sympathy? the goal is to WIN!
Comment by Adios Pelota — April 20, 2011 @ 1:01 am
Why does SSS apply to Huff and not to Belt? Belt has hit everywhere, up to and including spring training and all the rest of it. He’ll hit, but of course because he’s “inexperienced” he’ll have to bat .400 for a solid month in order to break into the major leagues.
Huff is experienced alright. He’s experienced at sucking for entire seasons and half seasons at a time.
The Giants were doing just fine with Belt playing, and they’d be doing even better if they’d just show a little patience and let the kid get some more AB’s. He is going to hit. Man, a lot of this MLB tenure stuff is just complete bullshit.
As a Giants fan, it’s disappointing that Belt couldn’t have done more with his first stint in the bigs. As a Fresno native, I am selfishly stoked that I can see Belt everyday now. I don’t think he’ll be here long.
@Bhaakon — I think it’s far more likely that they’ll just let Rowand drive up his trade value and then let him go. Given the necessity of freeing up money to sing the arbitration and pre-arbitration guys this offseason and the next, the Giants should (and hopefully will) look for every opportunity to pass on at least some of that $20+ million, given how much cheaper Torres is. Naturally, I’m as scarred by Gritty Veteran Syndrome as you are — but I have to believe Torres will have the opportunity to reclaim his job, assuming his achilles is okay.
It’s also true that MLB pitching has exposed a weakness in Belt’s approach (the inside fastball) that was likely not exploited until now. I’m not saying he won’t resolve it — in fact, I’m very optimistic that he will — but there’s a difference between a guy going through a slump and a guy who is making outs consistently on the same pitch. Belt still needs to establish that he can adapt and hit that pitch with authority — that’s another big difference between him and Huff.
It was a bit disingenuous of me to say it that way.
I was trying to make the point that, while Huff had a great year last year, the strategy that made them successful was not “sign Huff” it was “sign a cheap 1B with something to prove,” and that that should have been the strategy again this year.
The fact that the strategy worked so well is the reason they should have tried it again. However, somewhere along the line they decided that “signing Huff” was the great idea, when really it was just the result of a good strategy.
I recall listening to KNBR around the time he re-signed, and there were a number of people who seemed to want to treat this deal as a 3 year, 25 million dollar deal, rolling his 1 year, 3 million contract from last year into the new contract. However, the truth of the matter is that part of why he was so valuable last year was how little he was making, and part of why he’s not nearly as valuable going forward is how much he’s making and how long he’s making it.
The strategy of how the Giants were going to cover the 1B position had changed, and not for the better.
There’s little reason to believe he can’t put up similar numbers, but there are about 6000 career plate appearances that say he probably won’t put up similar numbers. It was his best year, and while he has approached it a couple of times, his overall numbers are worse than his line from last year, and he isn’t young. He of course isn’t paid like he will repeat last year’s numbers, but something closer to .270/.340/.470 might be reasonable, I guess.