Aubrey Huff’s $10MM option for the 2013 season was declined. He wasn’t all that active in 2012 as he was in his first two years with the Giants. In his time, he’s got some fans, and I’m not sure if they’re shocked he’s leaving, or they just felt attached to him.
If it’s to have him retire as an Oriole with the one-day contract thing, OK, but it might not be a good idea to sign a back-up DH. Huff was clearly a shell of his former self in 2011-2012, and 2010 he was amazing for the World Champs. For that, thank you Aubrey. I just hope he enjoyed yesterday’s parade, as when I looked at him pass by with his wife and kid, he just had a look of it being all over and not being ready for said overness. I hope my facial-analysis was off.
While the Giants have been trying to figure out their roster for the postseason, the Dodgers have reeled off five straight victories to keep themselves in the hunt for the second wild card. With their elimination number being two, the Dodgers can only afford to lose one game of this series at the very most, and that assumes that the Cardinals woud lose all three games of their series with Cincinnati. If the Cardinals lose two against the Reds this week, the Dodgers must sweep to force a tiebreaker. Then there’s the number one crazy scenario that if the Dodgers sweep the Giants and the Reds sweep the Cardinals the Dodgers would make the playoffs while St. Louis would be left scratching their heads, making it the second year in a row the World Series champion from the season prior did not make the playoffs. Should the Giants eliminate the Dodgers/Dodgers get eliminated before Wednesday, I do not expect Clayton Kershaw to make the Wednesday start.
Monday, October 1st: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Aaron Harang
One sentence summary: In his three starts against LA, Cain has allowed 2 BB in 21.1 IP and 0 HR, while this will be Harang’s first look at the Giants, and he has allowed multiple walks in his last five starts, plus he’s also not been able to get to the sixth inning since mid-August.
Tuesday, October 2nd: LHP Barry Zito vs. LHP Chris Capuano
One sentence summary: In five starts against the Dodgers, the defense has backed Zito has he’s allowed 7 ER in that time, while in Capuano’s two starts against the Giants, he’s seen 8 ER attached to his record.
Wednesday, October 3rd: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw
One sentence summary: Ryan Vogelsong may have better results in the HRA department vs. his opponent than Kershaw does in this matchup (0 to 2) when SF-LA meet up, but it’ll be up to Vogelsong to show he can pitch well against someone other than the Padres.
Superstar Bats Are Prevailing
Matt Kemp may not be leading the team in HR (23), but the loved-by-LA Bison has roped 4 HR in the past week while sporting a crazy .650 wOBA in the past week (.390 wOBA overall). The previously cold Shane Victorino (.468 wOBA Last 7, .316 wOBA overall) and AJ Ellis (.460 wOBA L7, .337 wOBA overall) have even contributed a dinger to the cause. Adrian Gonzalez (.430, .345) may not have HR’d in the past week, but his .524 BABIP has led him to be a team player as well. Let us not forget this team just played the Padres and the Rockies. Mark Ellis (.247 wOBA L7, .316 wOBA overall) and Andre Ethier (.240, .343) have the lone scuffling numbers within the past week for LA.
So there’s this guy that’s making an MVP run and his name is Buster Posey and despite two GIDP’s lately to bring his total up to 19, he has been the Giants hottest bat of late (.519 wOBA L7, .404 wOBA overall). Next in line are three guys that weren’t starters at the beginning of the year: Hector Sanchez (.479 wOBA in 12 PA, .293 wOBA overall), Marco Scutaro and his sickness (.423 wOBA L7, .327 wOBA overall), and Xavier Nady and his X-ness (.421 wOBA in 14 PA, .260 wOBA overall). Just to humor you, Aubrey Huff (.268) has a higher wOBA than Nady. Maybe that didn’t make you laugh. Whatever. You should know though that they’re going to need one guy to get warmer and that is Angel Pagan who sits at the top of their lineup doing a bit not well of late (.171 wOBA L7, .338 wOBA overall). Milestone updates: Angel Pagan is 2 HR away from 10, and 1 SB away from 30; Gregor Blanco is 4 SB away from 30; Brandon Belt and Marco Scutaro are 3 HR away from 10. If Marco Scutaro gets 14 hits this series, he’ll get 200 hits for the season. 14 hits in a series would also likely be some sort of record.
Series Prediction: Good Night, LA
Although I never predict the Giants to lose a series (because baseball), I think they’ll close out the season with a series win and actually feeling decently confident as they go home to start a playoff series on Saturday.
Monday: Giants win (Matt Cain > Aaron Harang)
Tuesday: Dodgers win, yet get eliminated
Wednesday: Giants win thanks to Kershaw’s replacement
Aubrey Huff is on the 15-day DL with anxiety, and we cannot be sure from what. I’m not going to bother to speculate because that wouldn’t be right. What troubles me is the inevitable comments of happiness from the casual sports fan that’s out there. Hank Schulman disclosed his own struggles, which no one asked him to do, and I think was quite brave of him to do that. Hearing about Hong-Chih Kuo struggle through it last year was tough for Dodger fans and their staff because they had no idea what to do. For all people know, Huff’s struggles could be due to his anxiety, so to celebrate his being out has the potential to make you look even dumber than you would for celebrating his absence.
Life happens to all of us, and if you’re just going to point your finger and criticize someone for every little thing that happens, it’s time for not a little, but a lot of self-reflection. We all just wish good health, and happiness upon the people that influence our lives, and Aubrey Huff is part of the team that influences ours.
My other post title for this was “How odd is Aubrey Huff?” because you probably know by now, whether you call it a dead cat bounce, the roller coaster, upsies-downsies, the odd-even syndrome, you know Aubrey Huff has problems with playing in years that end in an odd number. Why? Iono. Gotta be between the ears though that causes him to do all the nothing he was doing after the 2010 World Series though. I believe they call it “resting on your laurels.” Most people by now grudgingly agree that yea, ok, you helped us to the first WS title we’ve ever seen in SF, you can get your pass… but no more! Dude’s getting paid $10MM in 2012, AKA “money I will never ever make.” As we look at the Giants preparing we look at what needs to happen and no doubt about it, Huff is a big key.
Yea. I’ll say. In fact, while we’re at it, you wanna take a look at his stats from all those odd years he’s played in the bigs? Of course you do. Let’s not pretend you have something else to do:
For those looking at the letter combinations going “WTF?” “ISO” stands for “Isolated Power” which is measured by Slugging percentage minus batting average. Let’s just say an ISO over .200 is pretty good to keep it simple. If you’ve had the uh… pleasure? of reading my stuff before I’ve talked about wOBA and wRC+ before. Both good individual measures for evaluating a player. 100 though for wRC+ is considered league average, so keep that in mind if this is the first time you’re seeing it. The 6 year average is for those 6 odd number years you see there and the 5 year average takes out the year 2011 since he played a lesser number of games then. 2003 was a pretty good year for him, wasn’t it? Tampa sure must’ve loved that when they were horrible. Now let’s compare those numbers to something like his even numbered years:
The year that was taken out for the 5 year average was the year 2000. In those 5 years though, take a look at the magic Huff has been up to in his even years: every year 20+ HR, K% below 14%, ISOs above .200 just about in every year save for that .197, pretty good batting averages, OBPs, wOBA and wRC+ in every year but 2006 where you could say he was a little better than average. The only thing the odd years have over the even years is the number of G and PA he averages, which is interesting but in the end you look at the numbers they put up for a guy like Huff who’s making 8 figures.
Huff says he’s doing the pilates thing that made him what he was in 2010. The dude is -gulp- 35 and he may need to do a little more than pilates to get him back to 2010 form. But he makes it sound like it’s hit him: I gotta be in shape to compete. Pablo’s realized that, Timmy’s realized that, Matt Cain realized it a while ago and Melky figured it out the same time Pablo did. Huff’s figured it out at age 35. Should we expect the world of Huff? No, that wouldn’t be fair. Should we expect a line of over 500 PAs, 20 HRs, 9-10% BB%, an ISO at .180+ and a wRC+ at 110 or higher? Yea, I think that’s absolutely fair and kinda believe in my “I like to believe people” brain that he can do that. I’m not gonna bet anything on it, but that’s what I expect from him.
So to answer the question, “Can Huff 2010 in 2012?” I say the realistic answer is “No,” although he shouldn’t be too far away, but I invite and beg him to prove me wrong.
Ideally I would write this post after the Lincecum/Cain situation is sorted out. But I’m bored. January 4th, college football is doing its annual kill-me-now-just-end-already portion of their season and baseball is still more than a month away — 40-something days I’m hearing. But as dumb as it is to try and forecast something that will happen in 2013, it’s not going to stop me from trying. There’s going to be so much that happens in 2012 that my predictions for the varying scenarios in 2013 will probably all be at least 75% wrong. I’m like Aubrey Huff at the plate. Take a look at what is on tap for 2013 as of 1/4/2012:
What you should take from this is all the “FA” notes you see next to the different names. Freddy Sanchez, Jeremy Affeldt, Aubrey Huff has a $2MM buyout that the Giants will inevitably exercise and Aaron Rowand and his absolutely horrible 5-year contract is finally off the books. You might be thinking: “Stuart, what about when the Giants win the World Series in 2012 won’t they pick up Huff’s option?” To that I say: “What, and sacrifice Brandon Be– ah shit, you’re right.” Brandon Belt as we know is the ugly duckling in the eyes of the management for some reason unbeknownst to us common folk. Oh by the way, Barry Zito makes $20MM in the final year of his even stupider contract (with a $7MM buyout in 2014). As you see, there’s $26.25MM committed to 2013 thus far (but to only 3 players). This leaves us roughly $100MM of rainy days to disperse to about 22 gentlemen. Here’s what I think it’ll look like if we live in Larry Baer’s world of keeping Timmy and Matty… and Brian Wilson:
The Matt and Tim numbers assume they were able to pull off some sort of deal without going into arbitration because if they’re not able to, then we could be looking at a $130MM payroll and we all know what that means: someone’s gotta go. You’ll see I made my own free agent signings in there and I may have not given MadBum enough in his first arbitration eligible year or Brandon Belt… I mean, he may be making $550,000. I probably overpaid for Erick Aybar and Melky Cabrera but the moment you think, “They wouldn’t overpay like that for Player X” I’ll just point out the Zito, Rowand and Huff contracts to you. Remember, we just won the World Series in 2012. We’ll probably hear that the 2013 payroll, much like the 2012 one, will probably be “maxed out” if we were to see something like that. However, if Lincecum or Cain is let go then we’re going to have some big changes in terms of what the roster will look like. Who knows if Surkamp will be ready or if Vogelsong will even still be around then. If the Giants don’t pick up prospects from a trade of Lincecum or Cain or even just let one of them walk and get draft picks out of them, 2013-2014 could be pretty rough on the Giants and we may begin to see the dark clouds come over AT&T.
Maybe I’ll do one of these again with scenarios of one of the two big stars leaving, but really there’s so much uncertainty with that, I might just wait until later to forecast something like that.
So on Wednesday night there was an “Inside the Clubhouse” complete with a live and active applause track. If you’ve been following the Giants closely throughout the offseason, you didn’t hear anything breaking about what’s going to happen this offseason. You really just learned more about the character of some of the individual characters, which is better than nothing. It’s better than being forced to listen to news about some other inferior sport.
Brian Sabean talked to the audience about everything we already know: pitching is the priority. Bullpen ever so important. Injuries plagued us in 2011. Nothing new, really. He did say if they see a bargain in January they’ll keep an open mind. I think that pertains more to pitching (like a long relief, #5 guy) than a bat. I’m sure they’ll sign a cheap bat if they could though. Rehab stuff nothing new, Freddy on schedule and Buster ahead of schedule. Looking good and of course we’re all hoping for the best. RIGHT, AUDIENCE? (this happened about 10 times over the course of the conference)
Larry Baer told us he hates the term “cap” in “salary cap” since it sounds like the number won’t move. He left room for the salary of the club to be bumped up ever so slightly year-by-year but didn’t talk about any new revenue streams like I dreamed of hearing about. He talked about the importance of keeping the celebrities of the Giants in San Francisco and specifically mentioning Timmy, Matty, Panda, Posey, MadBum and BRIAN WILSON. I think I started crying. If you know me, you know I hate paying too much for closers. We’ll see what happens though — he did say he’ll leave the baseball stuff to the baseball operations guys like Sabes and co.
Dave Righetti can’t really tell us too much about what’s to happen with the team because that’s not his nor is it Bochy’s department. He did tell a nice story about how Juan Marichal shook Buster Posey’s hand before Game 5 and knew they were going to win. I learned that Rags likes to talk to the catchers about gameplan more than he does the pitchers.
Bruce Bochy same thing and a lot of talk about the close games and his receding hairline. What else can he really talk about? He did talk about the Taiwan All Star Trip and how fun that was with Pablo in LF for an inning. He talked about Aubrey Huff sending Boch shirtless pictures of himself to prove he’s working hard over this offseason. He didn’t lay down speculation that Pill and Belt could be competing for a spot though, much to the discontent of people that want to see Belt in the starting lineup everyday. Boch brought up the importance of getting through to the team that they can get back to the top and knowing that the 162 game season can be a long season.
Lots to be excited for, lots to be nervous about. The lineup’s pretty much set and so is the staff. It’s all about arbitration and dolling out cash now. Until the next set of crazy news, enjoy the closing shot of the Inside the Clubhouse episode.
Other teams did stuff today, but no one cares about them. The Giants are the only thing that matters. Word.