Giants Seeking Left-Handed Bat, Sign Aubrey Huff

After Adam LaRoche (surprisingly) turned down the Giants offer of two-years, $17 million, the Giants -- who ranked second-to-last in ISO (with a team mark of .132) and dead last in all of OBP, BB% and wOBA last season -- concluded their search for a "lefty-hitter" by signing Aubrey Huff to $3 million, one-year deal. The same Aubrey Huff who hit .241/.310/.384 (.684 OPS) last season. How this is an upgrade for the Giants, who hit .257/.309/.389 (.699 OPS) as a team, is anyone's guess. Even when you account for Huff's .263 BABIP (.311 xBABIP), Huff's adjusted batting line (assuming all additional hits would be singles) last season would have been .282/.347/.426 (.773 OPS).

Yes, at $3 million/1-year, the Giants are only paying for less than even a single WAR on the open market. Such a signing makes sense if the team is in no position to compete, rebuilding for the future, and does not wish to waste resources by plugging temporary holes. The Giants are not in such a position, however. They were top 5 in FIP and #2 in xFIP last season. They have a super rotation of Lincecum-Cain-Sanchez in the top 3 spots, while Zito manages to be the highest paid (and most overpaid) number five guy in all of baseball. Furthermore, the Giants have one of baseball's best pitching prospects, lefty starter Madison Bumgardner, waiting in the wings alongs with baseball's top catching prospect, Buster Posey.

On the other end of the field, the Giants have Kung Fu Panda. That's it. Sure, Aaron Rowand is trolling around somewhere in the outfield, making web-gem-like diving catches at routine flyballs, but he's a 2 WAR player at this point in his career. What does it say about your offense last year when your second best offensive player was Juan Uribe? It says "hmm, maybe I should have offered more money to a better offensive player (like Jason Bay, Matt Holliday or Russell Branyan) or even try upping my offer to Adam LaRoche, rather than wasting salary on an old-as-balls guy in the twilight of his career (2008 aside, Huff has been on the decline since 2004.)." Don't believe me? Check out these 2010 percentile forecasts from ZiPS (click to enlarge):

According to ZiPS, only two players on the Giants 2009 roster have a greater than 2% chance to hit (at least) 30 home runs next year, and the Giants non-tendered one of them. Ryan Garko was also one of only three players on the Giants in 2009 who is projected to have a 20% or greater chance of posting an OBP greater than or equal to .375. Of those who will be with the Giants next season, only Kung Fu Panda has a remotely and statistically relevant (5% or greater) chance of hitting 45+ doubles in 2010. Furthermore, if you click the ZiPS link (above) rather than look at my screen shot, you will notice that only Kung Fu Panda is projected to be at least 5% better than the average offensive player next season.

In plain English, the Giants need some real (and serious) offensive help.

Perhaps this move was just Brian Sabean's way of telling Dayton Moore (who recently signed Scotty Pods) that he is challenging him for the title of worst GM ever.


Sexy Rexy said...

I don't like the assumption that when you account for xBABIP that you say what his slash line would have been if all additional hits would have been singles. That's a pretty ballsy assumption. What is all of his additional hits were HRs? What if a meteorite fell on his face during a game?

I agree with your analysis that Huff is a pretty dumb move for an offense that's struggling, but I don't know if this disparaging of Sabean- at least for a player this cheap- is necessary. I would blame him for giving a shit ton of money to guys like Aaron Rowand- but I have no problem of any team getting a guy of Huff's caliber for as cheap as they did. And worse GM ever? Dude probably doesn't have that much money and to assemble a top 3 rotation, maybe arguably the best rotation. A lot of dumb moves. Sure. But THE worst GM? Not even close.

Plus, when you think about this offseason- the only power guy the Giants reasonably could have gotten was Branyan. No way in hell- no matter how much money they had available to spend were they ever going to get either Holliday or Bay.

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

you cant assume non-singles. Obviously all singles in not what we expect, but we see if it were all singles what the effect would be. I'm a bit uncomfortable calculating xSLG by using in-season doubles, triples and HR rates because those dont necessarily predict future rates

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Branyan, LaRoche, Damon, Beltre, Delgado, Blalock, Jim Thome, Vladdy (if healthy), Jermaine Dye, Rick Ankiel, Jack Cust, Gary Sheffield, Xavier Nady, etc.

all are 25+ HR guy (except damon). All will or are going to make <$8 mil next year.

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