Back in 8th grade, I had an incredibly tough algebra teacher. Not tough in the good sense, but rather in the “God, this woman is evil” sense. We used to grade our own work as homework (she’d give us the answer key) and report our score out loud the next day. One of those days, I’d forgotten my notebook but remembered my score. When my turn came around, I said exactly that.
She looked up from her grade book. “Because you told me that, I have to deduct points from your score,” she said. “If you hadn’t told me you’d forgotten your notebook, I wouldn’t have ever known.”
I started to protest. She cut me off and said, “Remember this: if you’re not going to like the answer, don’t ask the question.”
That mean old broad must’ve had a point, because 18 years later that’s the one thing I remember from her class. It’s fresh in my mind now because it seems relevant to this whole Aubrey Huff conversation. People are asking the question of what to do about Huff, when there’s no answer that’s going to satisfy them.
Aubrey Huff is the Giants' RF, and he's going to stay there. One rough game isn't going to change that, nor should it. The more time he spends in the outfield, the more comfortable he'll get; plus, it's not as if the errors he made were on routine plays. They were both tough balls, and they would've been spectacular plays if he'd have made them. He's a solid enough outfielder to get by, and that's all the Giants can hope for right now.
Still, that’s not stopping people from asking what should be done about Huff, and some have come up with answers. Here’s a few I’ve seen, plus my thoughts about them:
Move Huff back to 1B, send Brandon Belt down: Flat-out crazy. Belt has done nothing to show he’s not capable of playing in the big leagues; in fact, it’s completely the opposite. He’s a Major League player, period. Simply because Huff had a rough time in RF is not reason enough to slow Belt’s development and acclimation to the Majors. Did I mention this idea is flat-out crazy? Because it’s flat-out crazy.
Bench Huff: Almost as crazy as the previous answer. The Giants just handed Huff a 2-year extension for around $10 million per year; they didn’t give him that kind of money to be a bench player. Not to mention the fact that Huff is one of the best run producers on the team, along with being one of the only power threats in the lineup. There is no way Huff is going to be benched. The Giants will try him at every single position on the diamond before that happens.
Move Huff to 1B, move Belt to the OF: A lot of people seem to be behind this idea, but it makes little sense to me. Is Huff an adequate 1B? Yes. But Brandon Belt is head-and-shoulders better than Huff. Belt is the kind of defensive player that wins multiple Gold Gloves; basically, he’s the best the Giants have had since JT Snow. Moving him to the OF would weaken two positions instead of one. Think of it this way: in 1997 the Giants had Glenallen Hill, possibly the worst defensive RF I’ve ever seen, playing all the time. Would it have made sense to have said, “Oh, I bet Hill would be an okay 1B… let’s move Snow to RF and stick Hill there”? No, it would’ve been insane. And Huff is no Glenallen Hill.
Move Huff to LF, play Nate Schierholtz or Aaron Rowand, bench Pat Burrell: Probably the least crazy idea, but I don’t like it because it takes Burrell’s bat out of a lineup that lacks true power hitters. I’m all for Burrell being replaced defensively when the Giants have a lead, but his bat is an important part of getting that lead right now. Plus, it’s not like moving Huff to left is going to make him a better outfielder. Is it a relatively “easier” outfield position to play? Sure, but he’ll still have to judge balls off the bat, take the correct routes, and make the routine plays. In other words, all the same things he has to do in right.
And the one answer that makes the most sense:
Grit your teeth and accept it until Cody Ross comes back: Huff isn’t going to win any Gold Gloves, but he’s also not the worst outfielder in the league. He’ll make the routine plays, he’ll occasionally make a very nice play, and he’ll have a hard time catching up to balls hit over his head. That’s the reality of the situation, and it’s a reality the Giants are going to have to live with until Ross gets back. Aubrey Huff is the Giants’ RF, Brandon Belt is the 1B, and everything’s going to be just fine.
- One last note: my latest piece for Davis Sports Deli’s “California Hatin’” rivalry blog is up, and you can find it here. It’s not much fun sharing a blog with a Dodgers fan when your team loses three of four, let me tell you.