SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 19: Aubrey Huff #17 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates their win in Game Three of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 19 2010 in San Francisco California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Aubrey Huff has been a far cry from his 2010 self, and I'm starting to wonder if he can ever get back.
If you've been following the San Francisco Giants at all this season, you probably have noticed that Aubrey Huff is struggling once again. If you've been watching the last few days though you might not have seen him, after a debacle-filled game against the Mets over the weekend had him take a day off, than a 'legitimate personal issue' caused him to leave the team and travel back to his native Florida on Monday.
Huff performance on Sunday, in which he went 0-4 with two pop-ups, a GIDP and a dribbler back to the mound, also came with a costly error at first base. I'm trying not mention the mental mistake of not playing the double play as an emergency fill-in at second base for the short handed Giants the same game, in which he made no apologies for afterwards. But all this is neither here nor there, and only a small part of a much larger problem.
First off, I believe Huff's days as a legitimate outfielder are well behind him, now at 35 years old on a team filled with twenty-something position players, many of whom cam play multiple positions in the outfield admirably.
When it comes to first base, the platoon of Brett Pill, Brandon Belt and occasionally Buster Posey is more than enough to handle the load, and with Hector Sanchez catching the lefty tandem of Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner so well, you may see him get a lot of starts when they take the mound, leaving the Giants free to put Posey at first. I just don't see much need for him anymore with this club.
Offensively Huff has been struggling mightily since his solid year of 2010, though his strong springs both this year and last (lead cactus league in homers in 2011, batted .297 in 64 AB in 2012) certainly haven'y amounted to much regular season success. Below are Huff's numbers since becoming a Giant.
Given enough regular at bats, I'd be willing to bet Pill and Belt can put up similar numbers if not better. And if guys like Nate Schierholtz and Emmanuel Burriss can be productive at the plate, than Huff's left-handed bat becomes even less irrelevant in the lineup.
The Giants are on the hook for his $11 million salary though this year, and will likely not be trying to pick up his club option for 2013 unless he drastically turns his game around. Trade deadline value? Possibly. Though I doubt many will be on the lookout for a player like him barring a serious injury to another team's first baseman or something along that line.
The Giants will likely have to trudge through the rest of the season with Huff in tow, hopefully being able to hide him on the bench like Aaron Rowand last year; though they could also just cut him and eat the salary like the did with Rowand last year as well.
It's hard to dog on a guy that was so instrumental to the Giants 2010 World Series run, but it's a 'what have you done for me lately' game this baseball is, and lately Huff's just not been cutting it. As much as I want to see him have success, realsim has to set in at some point and a pragmatic not emotional approach is necessary. He just isn't 2010 Aubrey, even if he puts the rally thong back on.
When Huff returns from his off-field engagements he seriously needs to turn it up with his on-field performance or may find himself riding the pine a lot more than wearing his glove.
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