Let’s get this out of the way: I would stab you and everyone you care about if it meant that I could watch a baseball game right now. It’s the time of the offseason where I snap. I don’t want five questions. I want baseball. I don’t want to know who came to camp 43 pounds lighter with a new dedication to flossing. I want baseball. And I will cut you for it.
Good. Glad we agree. Now I’d like to present the But They Were Good Two Years Ago All-Stars:
...and the But They Were Good Two Years Ago All-Duds:
You would think the lists would be longer, but that’s because you’re thinking of players who either a) weren’t really good at all (Tom Goodwin, Charlie Hayes, Shawon Dunston, Shea Hillenbrand, Shawon Dunston the second time, Michael Tucker, and Shawon Dunston the third time), or b) were older but pretty good all along (Moises Alou, Ellis Burks, Reggie Sanders). I also thought that, "Gee, if he can just do what he did back in (year of unexpected success), he’ll be a steal!"was a more common theme with Brian Sabean’s acquisitions. My bad.
But those players aren’t especially encouraging. Galarraga and Lofton came over mid-season, when teams were able to make sure they weren’t cooked. The rest of the goofs were surfing on name recognition only, for the most part.
On a completely unrelated topic, we come to Aubrey Huff. "But he was good two years ago!", the optimist cries. Yes. Yes, he was. He was also quite possibly the least valuable player in the major leagues last year when defense and position are taken into account. FanGraphs puts it best with this:
Huff isn’t the sort of player you should target. The upside is average production for the position, while the downside is he’s done as a serviceable starter. There’s not much incentive in that proposition.
That paragraph might make you a little bitter, or it might not do anything for you, and that all depends on how you feel about Travis Ishikawa. If I had to rewrite the above quote to fit Ishikawa, it'd read something like this:
Ishikawa's upside -- and it's a really unlikely upside -- is average production and a good glove for the position, while the downside is he’ll never be a serviceable starter. There’s not much incentive in that proposition.
So as an alternative to Ishikawa, I'm not too bent out of shape about Huff. Hoping for a magical, unlikely return to form from Huff is just as crazy as hoping that Ishikawa's 192 at-bats of Fresno nuttery in 2008 represents some sort of true talent level. It's all crazy. And knowing that the Giants tried to pick up the Steven Spielbergs (Adam LaRoche and Nick Johnson) to Huff's Señor Spielbergo, I'm not going to waste my time trying to figure out which puddle of unrealistic is slipperier.
With a player like Ishikawa, though, it would have been nice if the Giants had a right-handed complement. Like, a lefty-mashing kind of guy, and his defense wouldn't have needed to be great because Ishikawa could be a defensive replacement. I don't know where the Giants would find a player like that, though. Sounds expensive. You'd probably have to give up a top pitching prospect in a trade, or something.
There aren't a lot of reasons to be bullish on Huff, and there are plenty to be bearish. Projections from various sources:
Bill James: .267/.334/.445, 521 AB, 20 HR
CHONE: .263/.327/.438, 525 AB, 19 HR
PECOTA: .280/.345/.466, 483 AB, 18 HR
ZiPS: .260/.323/.431, 531 AB, 18 HR
I'd be giddy with the PECOTA projection, which says more about the past two decades of Giants first basemen than anything else. Alas, I can't get that optimistic: