Tag:Aubrey Huff
Posted on: February 7, 2012 7:38 am
Edited on: February 8, 2012 3:47 pm
 

Spring position battles: National League West



By Matt Snyder


We are finally just a few short weeks away from spring training beginning, so let's continue looking at some positional battles that will unfold through February and March. Monday, we looked at the AL West and now it's time to look at the NL West.

Arizona Diamondbacks
None: None yet.

I understand this probably comes off as a bit lame, but look at the D-Backs depth chart and tell me where there are any legitimate battles. From the starting lineup to the rotation to the bullpen, it would appear the defending NL West champs have very few question marks heading into the 2012 season. I would keep an eye on last year's first-round pick, starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (maybe pushing Josh Collmenter to the long relief role at some point in June or July?), but it's very doubtful he fits in the rotation out of spring. He got knocked around (7.56 ERA, 1.68 WHIP) in four Double-A starts last season. So I've got nothing here. They are already set.

San Francisco Giants
First Base: Aubrey Huff vs. Brandon Belt

Is it time to pass the torch yet? The Giants had no patience with Belt last season, as the 23-year-old prospect was shipped back to the minors in April after just 60 plate appearances. He came back to stay in the middle of July, hitting .231/.296/.469 the rest of the way, but that was only in 142 plate appearances. And he did show good power, hitting eight homers in that stretch. In 111 career Triple-A games, Belt has a .441 on-base percentage and 20 home runs. Meanwhile, Huff is 35 and coming off a season where he hit .246/.306/.370 with just 12 homers in 579 plate appearances. With the additions of Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, it's unlikely the Giants shove Belt back in the outfield initially, so they must make a decision here. Do they leave Belt in Triple-A again, where he's proven he's a stud, have him ride pine in the bigs, or just move on past Huff and let Belt have the job?

Shorstop: Ryan Theriot vs. Brandon Crawford vs. Mike Fontenot

The 25-year-old Crawford is easily the best defender of this group, but at some point the Giants will need some offense. Crawford is a career .234/.291/.327 hitter in Triple-A. In 220 big-league plate appearances, Crawford hit .204/.288/.296 last season, so he's a complete offensive liability. Ryan Theriot hit .271 with a .321 OBP last year, and he also has no power. He does, however, have a career .282 average and .344 OBP. Fontenot hit only .227/.304/.377 last season, but he certainly has the most power of the trio here. Basically, there isn't really a good choice, but there's still one to be made. Of note: Fontenot and Crawford hit left handed, so maybe Theriot ends up platooning with one of them.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Left Field: Jerry Sands vs. Tony Gwynn Jr. vs. Juan Rivera

Did Sands' month of September give the Dodgers confidence he's ready to take over in left right away? It's possible. After hitting pretty poorly in his stint earlier in the season, Sands hit .342/.415/.493 with two homers, nine RBI and five doubles in 83 plate appearances in the last month. He's only 24, but he's also hit for great power in Triple-A (29 home runs in 418 plate appearances in Albuquerque last year). This one is all about him, with Gwynn being the backup option and Rivera being the desperation option.

Closer: Javy Guerra vs. Kenley Jansen

Guerra is the incumbent and successfully converted 21 of 23 save chances last season. He's only 26 and posted a 2.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP in his 46 2/3 innings last season, too. So he's the obvious closer, right? I'm not so sure. The 6-foot-5 Jansen is only 24 and has elite closer written all over him. He had a rough start, but from June on, Jansen posted a 0.55 ERA, 0.67 WHIP with four saves, seven holds and zero blown saves. His stuff is nasty, as he struck out 96 hitters in 53 2/3 innings on the season. It looks like the sky is the limit, so would the Dodgers really leave him in the eighth inning due to Guerra's 2011 performance?

Colorado Rockies
No. 3-5 starting pitchers: Alex White vs. Drew Pomeranz vs. Juan Nicasio vs. Guillermo Moscoso vs. Tyler Chatwood vs. Josh Outman vs. Jamie Moyer

After stockpiling pitchers the entire offseason, it wasn't too surprising to see the Rockies trade away both Kevin Slowey and Jason Hammel. Of course, they got back Jeremy Guthrie and still have an absurd logjam behind Guthrie and Jhoulys Chacin. And Jorge De La Rosa will be back at some point later in the season (he had Tommy John surgery last June). White and Pomeranz are both young and inexperienced enough to justify more time in Triple-A, but they probably have the best stuff of anyone on the list. Chatwood got plenty of MLB experience last season, but he's still only 22 and his numbers weren't good. It's hard not to root for Nicasio, as he's coming back from a broken neck. He made some good starts for Colorado last summer, too. Outman's never really shown more than mediocrity and Moyer is 49. I very much like Moscoso's chances,  for one, as he's 28 and had a 3.38 ERA and 1.09 WHIP last season for Oakland. The ballpark difference in home games will be bad, but the NL West has fewer fearful hitters than the AL West and some spacious parks. So I'll officially predict Moscoso gets in, but beyond him, it's a complete toss up.

San Diego Padres
Catcher: Nick Hundley vs. John Baker vs. Yasmani Grandal

Hundley has had parts of four seasons to prove himself. Last season, he did hit well, with a .288/.347/.477 line, but injuries limited him to just 82 games. His career high, due to many different circumstances, is 85. The 31-year-old Baker has had the past couple seasons ruined due to an arm injury (Tommy John surgery and rehab took out nearly all of last season), but back in 2008-09 he hit .281/.364/.423 for the Marlins. The two could actually platoon, because Baker hits lefty while Hundley hits righty. Grandal, though, has loads of talent. He was the Reds' first rounder in 2010, is a switch hitter and has a career minor-league line of .303/.401/.488. He's only played four games in Triple-A, though, so he'd probably have to go nuts with his bat in the spring to get a shot out of the gate. The smart money is on the Padres going with Hundley as the primary starter, Baker as a backup who sees a good amount of playing time and Grandal spending most of the season in Triple-A. Maybe even a platoon with Hundley and Baker. Still, there's enough here for a potentially good three-way battle this spring. And you never know on Grandal. He jumped from High-A to Triple-A in 2011 and his experience before that was just eight Rookie League games in 2010. Maybe he's one of those guys that doesn't need much minor-league seasoning.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 8:43 am
 

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Josh Hamilton

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

No team has had as much success drafting and developing its players like the Tampa Bay Rays. The one-time laughingstock of MLB is a model franchise to even the biggest spenders. The Rays have had big name leave, but keep replacing them with younger, seemingly better players. A year ago, the Rays lost Carl Crawford because they could no longer afford him. By the end of the season, Crawford and the Red Sox were sitting at home while the Rays were in the playoffs -- again. The reason is because they grown enough crops on the farm to have a successful harvest nearly every fall.

Lineup

1. Carl Crawford, LF
2. Desmond Jennings, RF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Josh Hamilton, DH
5. B.J. Upton, CF
6. Aubrey Huff, 1B
7. Reid Brignac, 2B
8. John Jaso, C
9. Elliot Johnson, SS

Starting Rotation

1. David Price
2. James Shields
3. Jeremy Hellickson
4. Wade Davis
5. Jeff Niemann

Bullpen

Closer - Dan Wheeler
Set up - Matt Moore, Andy Sonnanstine, Alex Cobb, Jake McGee, Jason Hammel, Jose Veras

Notable Bench Players

The Rays have a couple of decent bats off the bench in Delmon Young, Matt Diaz, Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu.

What's Good?

Crawford and Hamilton to go along with Longoria, Upton and Jennings? That helps, that's for sure. The rotation is exactly the same -- and that's a good thing. You've also got Moore sitting there. The starters are an embarrassment of riches. It's one of the main reasons the Rays can still compete in the AL East with a smaller payroll.

What's Not?

The bottom half of the lineup isn't great -- especially with Johnson at short. But there's enough help at the top of the lineup to make up for the bottom. The bench isn't deep defensively, but it's the American League so you don't need quite as much as you do in the National League. The bullpen isn't full of experienced relievers, but there are some quality arms that can switch from starting to relieving.

Comparison to real 2011

The same pitching staff plus Crawford and Hamilton make up for losing some of its Frankenstein bullpen and Johnny Damon. I put Hamilton at DH to try to save some wear and tear on his body, he can still play in the field every once in a while and give Jennings a day off and have someone like Young DH. Or Young can play in the outfield. The bullpen might be the most interesting question, but I think the offense and the starting pitching are enough to improve, if slightly, on the team's 91-71 finish.

Next: Philadelphia Phillies

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:21 pm
 

Choosing the NL Least Valuable Player



By Matt Snyder


With the announcement of the National League MVP coming Tuesday, we'll once again do the opposite and choose a least valuable player. Unlike the AL version of this "award," the candidates were not nearly as identifiable. I did narrow it down to five worthy contenders, so let's size 'em up.

Pedro Alvarez, Pirates. The 24-year-old third baseman was supposed to be a power bat in the middle of the Pirates lineup for years to come. And he still might prove to be one in the future, but he was awful in 2011. Alvarez hit .191/.272/.289 with just four homers in 262 plate appearances. He even earned a demotion to Triple-A. He struck out 80 times and grounded into 11 double plays in just 235 at-bats.

Tyler Colvin, Cubs. The 2006 first-round pick hit 20 home runs in 358 at-bats in 2010, but he was lost in 2011. Colvin hit .150/.204/.306 with six homers in 222 plate appearances. You can go after Mike Quade for not letting Colvin get regular playing time if you want, but how can you justify continuing to run a guy out there with a .204 on-base percentage?

Aubrey Huff, Giants. Believe it or not, Huff finished seventh in MVP voting in 2010. Man, that seems like ages ago. In 2011, the Giants had the worst offense in the National League, and Huff has to shoulder some of that blame. Huff's raw stats don't look near as bad as those of Alvarez, Colvin or a litany of others, but his .246/.306/.370 line damaged a legitimate playoff threat. If he had a similar season to 2010, the entire complexion of the lineup changes.

Derek Lowe, Braves. He made 34 starts and worked 187 innings, so that sounds like he had some value, at least in giving the Braves a healthy innings-eater. It's just that Lowe faltered when the Braves needed him the most. His overall season numbers -- 9-17, 5.05 ERA, 1.51 WHIP -- were bad enough, but Lowe was horrifying in September. He made five starts, going 0-5 with an 8.75 ERA and 1.99 WHIP. This was during a historic collapse. And Lowe made $15 million in 2011.

Brandon Lyon, Astros. The closer set the tone for the Astros' abysmal 2011 season by blowing an opening-day save opportunity, allowing six hits and three runs to the Phillies. He would rack up as many blown saves as actual saves (four), which fit nicely with his 11.48 ERA and 2.40 WHIP. Still, Lyon only appeared in 15 games, due to injury, so he can't really win this one.

And the winner is ... Huff by a nose. Ultimately, I believe Huff's shortfall from his 2010 numbers was more responsible for costing the Giants the playoffs than Lowe's campaign. Since Lowe is a starting pitcher and only goes once every five days, I feel like the Braves still could have overcome his shortcomings. But the Giants' offense was pitiful all season, and if Huff hit the ball better, it would have been an immense boost. I'd definitely be on board with anyone wanting to pick Lowe, though. This was a two-horse race.

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 12:58 pm
 

Giants broadcaster sounds off on team

By Matt Snyder

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year for the first time in history (previous Giants titles were as the New York Giants). In 2011, many believed they'd at least win the NL West. Instead, they've suffered through some dreadful offense and several bad spells. The result is being only seven games over .500 and trailing the Diamondbacks by three games for first place.

It's certainly not a horrible situation, but winning it all seems to alter expectations a bit. Witness Giants TV color commentator Mike Krukow on a morning radio show in the Bay Area Friday. He went off on the team:

(All of the following quotes are from Brian Murphy -- the radio show host -- tweets. Some words have been written out from tweet short-hand)

"No offense, wasted opportunities, major frustration. Comes a point mix-ups don't work. Time for a shakeup."

"The need something to get their attention. They've made 24 more errors than last year. Tells you concentration is not there."

"How many Giants at-bats do you look forward to? Can't keep running (the) same guys out there. Dire times. Rattle their cage."

On Aubrey Huff: "He swung at a backfoot slider and missed by 10 inches. His at-bats had no life. (I am) not opposed to sitting him three, four days."

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 1:09 am
 

Giants on a solo homer streak

Aubrey HuffBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Chris Stewart and Aubrey Huff homered for the Giants on Wednesday against the Pirates -- and like all the Giant homers for more than a month, they were solo homers.

The Giants are not only tied for 13th among National League teams in home runs, they aren't making them count. Huff's sixth-inning homer off of Pittsburgh's James McDonald was the 18th consecutive solo homer by the Giants, just one short of the all-time record, set by the 1914 Phillies

San Francisco has managed just 23 runs in nine games this month, with 14 of those coming in two games -- a 8-1 victory over Arizona on Aug. 3 and a 6-0 win Tuesday against the Pirates.

The last time a Giant homered with a man on base was July 6 when Pablo Sandoval was on second base for Nate Schierholtz's home run off the Padres' Dustin Moseley. In the 29 games since then, the Giants have scored just 84 runs and are 15-14 during that stretch. Overall, San Francisco has scored the fewest runs in the National League. Their 405 runs are more than only the Mariners' 382.

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Posted on: June 3, 2011 1:57 am
Edited on: June 3, 2011 6:48 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Huff hammers three homers

Huff

By Evan Brunell


3 UpAubrey Huff, Giants -- A hat trick for Aubrey Huff, who blasted three home runs to lead the Giants to a 12-7 victory. Huff's three blasts tallied six RBI, adding on a single as well. His monstrous night pushed him to .233/.291/.413 overall, tacking on a home run against St. Louis on Wednesday too. Huff and the Giants really needed this night, both in a game that ended up in a high-scoring affair and to spark the Giants' and his own moribud offiense.

Xavier Paul, Pirates -- Paul came into the game with just three RBI in 41 at-bats, hitting .220 but has been on fire the last two days. He has six hits and three RBI, four of the hits coming Thursday against the Mets, who engineered a seven-run comeback to take down the Pirates 9-8. Paul did all he could at the top of the order, scoring three runs and boosting his average to .305. And this is why Garrett Jones is losing playing time.

Joakim Soria, Royals -- The way K.C. is trying to fix Soria is by pitching him in low-leverage outings where he can go multiple innings to work on his pitches. It got a chance Thursday as Soria got to pitch three innings due to what was an unfortunate (for them) trumping by Minnesota, with the Twins wining 8-2. Soria's two innings to finish the game were perfect, although he didn't strike anyone out. Given contact percentage is a large reason why he's not effective, that's not great news. But hey, dude was perfect, right?


Guillermo Mota, Giants -- Mota gave up four runs in one inning to almost blow the game for the Giants, if not for Huff's heroics. Mota entered the seventh inning with a 12-3 lead, which quickly fell to 12-7 with a grand slam by Colby Rasmus, who also tripled twice for a beastly game. Mota finished the inning and Jeremy Affeldt went on to get a two-inning save. Mota's failings were put on display in a .GIF to the right tweeted by @davidtiao that you can see to your right and offers a nice cameo of A's manager Bob Geren.



Sean O'Sullivan, Royals -- Soria was perfect. O'Sullivan was not, coughing up eight hits in 2 2/3 innings and seven runs, although only three were earned, to the Twins. Still, he didn't contribute much with his two walks to just one whiff, the eight hits and only TWO swing and misses in 69 pitchers, both on the curveball. So that's 21 fastballs, all which made contact for a hit or foul. Not good, and that ERA's a tidy 6.92 now. Move on the horizon?

Mike Pelfrey, Mets -- Pelfrey was no better, rounding out bad days for pitchers. Pelfrey went up against the Mets and gave up eight hits, three of which belonged to Paul, in five innings. His ERA spiked to 5.56 and it's time to wonder if Pelfrey is hurt or the No. 2-caliber starter Pelfrey we saw last season was an aberration.

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Posted on: May 26, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 3:58 pm
 

Posey breaks leg, Giants call for Belt

Posey

By Evan Brunell


Buster Posey's collision with Scott Cousins on Wednesday fractured a bone in his lower left leg, delivering a devastating blow to the Giants.

In addition to a broken leg, Posey is thought to have torn ligaments as well,  as CSN Bay Area reports. The Giants later announced that Chris Stewart has been recalled to take Posey's place, with Brandon Belt also joining the roster along with Brandon Crawford.

Posey's broken leg could heal in one-to-two months, a time span common for a broken leg. However, broken legs can mean a wide range of severity, and the complication of torn ligaments makes a possible ETA for a return that much more murky. Some players return from a broken leg inside two months. Others miss almost two full seasons, as Kendrys Morales of the Angels can attest. It would surprise no one if Posey was done for the season, but let's exercise some restraint and wait for further clarification. He will undergo a MRI Thursday that should clarify the issue, although in Pablo Sandoval's mind, the issue's already been clarified.

"Good morning I feel so bad because we lost buster for rest of the season it's gonna be hard with out him," Sandoval tweeted on Thursday.

Posey's agent, Jeff Berry, said he was planning on calling Joe Torre, the new leader of on-field operations, in the hopes of changing the rules that allow runners to barrel into catchers.

"You leave players way too vulnerable," Berry said. "I can tell you Major League Baseball is less than it was before [Posey's injury]. It's stupid. I don't know if this ends up leading to a rule change, but it should. The guy [at the plate] is too exposed.

"If you go helmet to helmet in the NFL, it's a $100,000 fine, but in baseball, you have a situation in which runners are [slamming into] fielders. It's brutal. It's borderline shocking. It just stinks for baseball. I'm going to call Major League Baseball and put this on the radar. Because it's just wrong."

"It's part of baseball. I understand that," Bochy said in a news conference on Thursday according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "Guys run into catchers. Being a catcher, I've been in a few of them. You're in harm's way there. I do think we need to consider changing the rules a little bit because the catcher's so vulnerable -- and there are so many who've gotten hurt, and just a little bit. I mean, they've had their careers or shortened. And here's a guy that's very popular in baseball. Fans want to see him play. Now, he's out for a while. I'd like to see maybe something considered here where we can protect these guys a little bit more. They just don't have the protection to take a guy coming in full speed, with that kind of force."

Bochy said he had previously spoken to Posey about not getting out in front and blocking the plate -- and to an extent, Posey tried to honor that.

"He was not completely in front of the plate. He was in a position where he could make a tag without being hit, too," Bochy said. "He just got himself in a tough position there because [the way] his leg was situated. He was down on one knee, and ideally, you'd like to have the foot pointed that way to protect you a little bit. But, again, you're trying to handle a throw. You don't have time to get set up perfectly. That's what hurt him was his leg was tucked underneath him when he got hit."

This is a sticky situation. On one hand, Bochy clearly feels that Cousins didn't need to take out Posey. On the other, it was a game in extra innings with a potential scoring play. Cousins and the ball both arrived to Posey at virtually the same time, and if Cousins had chosen to attempt to slide to the plate, there's no guarantee he would have made it. It's just an unfortunate end result, but that's baseball.

Cousins tried to reach out to Posey, leaving two voicemails and told reporters Monday he did not sleep Wednesday night. "The last thing I wanted to do was break the guy's leg," he told the Palm Beach Post.

Belt takes the place of outfielder and pinch-runner Darren Ford, who hit the DL with an ankle sprain. The Giants were originally going to resist calling Belt up to replace Ford, but the loss of Posey has changed matters as the Giants need to find a way to inject offense into the club, and fast. The Giants won't have any trouble fitting Belt into the lineup, as first baseman Aubrey Huff is struggling with the bat while left field can also accommodate Belt's production.

Even though Huff hasn't played third base since a 33-game stint in 2008, it's possible the Giants could slide him to third temporarily to get Belt's bat in at first base, which would allow the team to continue playing Pat Burrell and Nate Schierholz in the outfield. In this scenario, Miguel Tejada would move back to shortstop, a position he vacated to fill Pablo Sandoval's absence at third. Now that the Giants have also lost Mike Fontenot to the DL due to a groin strain, the options to fill the shortstop position are weak enough to the point the club would likely benefit from Tejada moving back to short all in the name of getting Belt's bat into the lineup.

Stewart has been with four different teams in the last five years, playing mostly at Triple-A. He received eight at-bats in 2006 for his career debut with the White Sox before collecting 43 plate appearances for the Rangers in '07. The 29-year-old moved onto the Yankees, snagging just one game's worth of playing time in '08, playing for New York's Triple-A team the entirety of 2009 before returning to the bigs with San Diego last season. At San Diego he appeared in two games as a defensive replacement. Now, Stewart could easily match his career 54 plate appearances as the new tandem in San Francisco. Eli Whiteside is expected to get the bulk of the playing time in the early going, but he doesn't exactly command being slotted in the lineup every day.

Crawford, meanwhile, was playing at high-Class A, hitting .322/.412/.593 in 69 plate appearances. He spent the bulk of 2010 with Double-A, hitting .241/.337/.375 and started the 2011 season with a broken finger. The corresponding move for Crawford is not yet known, but it is likely Fontenot to the DL. He'll be the infield backup, with Emmanuel Burriss likely slotting in at shortstop if they don't move Tejada back to short.

Assuming Posey is out for a long time, if not the rest of the season, the Giants may want to call up ex-Giant Bengie Molina, who was with San Francisco from 2007 until partway through last season, when he was moved to the Rangers and faced the Giants in the World Series. Molina, a free agent, has been waiting for both the right fit and price before playing again. He may have just found it.

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 3:24 pm
 

Belt optioned to Triple-A to make room for Ross

Brandon BeltBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Talk about a bad birthday -- Brandon Belt will celebrate his 22nd birthday today by going to Fresno.

With Cody Ross activated and in today's lineup against the Rockies' Jorge De La Rosa, the Giants had to make a move and it was the rookie first baseman who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno.

"Yeah, a pretty good birthday present," Belt told reporters, including Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm not taking it too bad. It's a numbers game now and I didn't exactly play great. It could be the best for everybody to get at-bats and be ready to contribute next time."

Belt struggled since singling in his debut and homering in his second game, hitting .192/.300/.269 overall, with just the one home run in 17 games and 60 plate appearances.

The 2009 fifth-round pick out of Texas established himself as a top prospect in his first professional season in 2010, hitting .352/.455/.620 with 23 home runs and 112 RBI at three levels in the minors. This spring Belt hit .282/.338/.479 with three home runs and 13 RBI in 71 at-bats making the team with the help of Ross' injured right calf.

Now with Ross back, Aubrey Huff will move to first and Ross will move into right field.

Huff was scheduled to get today's game off, but Pablo Sandoval is out with a minor right triceps strain and Huff will play first with Mark DeRosa moving from first to third to make up for Sandoval's absence. Huff was just sitting the day game after a night game, a common move for veteran players.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com