I love Cots Baseball Contracts. It’s a great place to get almost all of the details about any teams payroll. As I learned today, it’s also a place to go if you’re seeking to get bummed out.
Looking at the Giants’ current commitments, you will find two players that I’d like to focus on for the purposes of this post. One of those players is Aubrey Huff, and the other is not Brandon Belt, who is owed the league minimum this year and is something of an indentured servant to the Giants for the next couple of years. Usually when you talk about one, you also talk about the other. Not today.
The other player is actually Aaron Rowand. He of the five-year, $60 million deal handed out a few seasons back. He’s also, of course, the player most ridiculed by Giants fans, at least in the non-Barry Zito category.
Anyway, Rowand is an average or close to average centerfielder, which obviously has far greater positional value than say, first base. Huff plays an average or close to average first base. Heck, if you want to say he’s even slightly above average, fine by me.
Even still, he has far less positional value. Furthermore, Huff cannot play a single other position because, when he played outfield earlier this season, it looked as though he had “an inner-ear problem,” as I believe fellow staffer Otis Anderson pointed out. Rowand, on the other hand, can play two other positions (left field and right field).
While Rowand’s contract was terribly ill-advised, we at least have the opportunity to agree that it is almost expired; there’s not much left on it. Thanks to Cots, we know that he’s owed $12 million this season and $12 million next season. Accounting for the 104 games they’ve already played, he’s owed another $4.3 million this season, which puts the Giants’ total commitment at $16.3 million.
The Giants re-signed Aubrey Huff this offseason for $10 million this season, $10 million next season, and an option of $10 million for 2013 with a buyout of $2 million. If you subtract the money paid for the 104 games he’s already played, the Giants owe him $3.58 million this season. That means that their total possible commitment to Huff is $23.58 million, but more likely $15.58 million ($3.58 million left in ’11, $10 million in ’12, $2 million in ’13).
At this very moment, Rowand has a batting line of .244/.293/.374 in 290 plate appearances. Huff is hitting .239/.294/.362 in 412 plate appearances. In other words, they’ve very nearly been identically productive this season.
To recap, Huff is owed $15.58 million. Rowand is owed $16.3 million. Rowand actually has the superior batting line with a .291 wOBA (weighted on-base average) to Huff’s .291 this season. And, to boot, Rowand can play three positions to Huff’s one, all of which are more important than first base (and none more so than center field).
So, lunatic fringe, what’s the difference? Is it that you think Huff is likely to turn his season around?
His batting line over the last calendar year doesn’t paint that much peachier of a picture. His wOBA over that period is .314, his batting line .248/.324/.394. If you add in his playoff production, he has a line of .250/.325/.390 over the past calendar year. This includes 175 games and 733 plate appearances.
It’s also not improving any. In fact, he’s pointed straight down at a meteoric pace. His two-out double last night was his third extra-base hit in his past 26 games. He’s hitting .221/.296/.279 over the past 30 days. He’s had a negative Win Probability Added (WPA) in 61 games of the 100 games he’s played in. Put another way, he’s increased the likelihood that the Giants would lose in 61 percent of the games he’s played for the Giants this season.
When the Giants signed Huff this offseason, it didn’t seem like the greatest move in the world, but it certainly was defensible. Continuing to play him and using that contract as the sole reason to do so (because I cannot think of another possible explanation) is both idiotic and indefensible.
As a Giants fan that wants nothing more than to see his team win, I’m finding this harder and harder to stomach every day. And notes like this from the exceptional Andrew Baggarly are beginning to put me over the edge.
When will the madness end? Rowand certainly isn’t playing every day. Why is Huff?
After the Carlos Beltran trade, the Giants have at least one more move they can make to significantly upgrade their lineup, and it will cost them exactly nothing. San Francisco are a classy organization, but they sometimes let sentimentality (or preference of veterans) get in the way. This is one of those times, and it couldn’t be coming at a worse juncture. The Giants can ill afford comfort and feelings over production and the future with just a slim 3-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks, especially considering their run differential is 10 runs lighter.
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I wrote about this very subject a couple of days ago at Splashing Pumpkins.
Follow Rory Paap on Twitter (@paapfly).