Ratto: Alternatives Support Huff Signing

November 23, 2010, 8:26 pm
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Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

Is Aubrey Huff really worth 10 million year? At his age, with his likely achievement curve? At his position? With the Giants' payroll?The answer is, as it always is, entirely dependent on how much it would cost to replace him with a comparable player, and the fact is that there are no available comparable players that come without giving up something equally or more valuable. So today, the answer is, "What's your alternative?"And here is where the answer becomes a resounding "Yes," at least until we get more data (games) out of him.
First, the Giants don't have an alternative. Travis Ishikawa's defensive advantage is smaller than his offensive disadvantage. Buster Posey's first base days are way ahead of him, now that he's shown the kind of catcher he is. And finally, Pablo Sandoval may be yesterday's news at any position unless he meets the Giants' new weight and health requirements.
Second, the free agent market at first base reads as follows: Adam Dunn (who has been offered arbitration by Washington), Paul Konerko (who will probably be offered arbitration by Chicago), Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche (who will be probably be offered arbitration by Arizona). Would you exchange Aubrey Huff for the cheaper Derrek Lee and give up the draft choice that signing a Type A free agent would require?
Third, after a World Series, how much tweaking can you do? Third base has already been tweaked, and so have center and right fields, plus there are always bullpen alterations.
Fourth, it isn't like the Giants don't have the money to do this. Maybe Huff bottoms out and becomes a bad contract after all, but you don't know that today, and neither does he, and neither do the Giants. You know what you know on the day you know it, and brilliant hindsight doesn't absolve you from writing the checks.
Does this mean more money awaits Juan Uribe, who like Huff was a Type B free agent? Yeah, probably, but if the Giants needed Huff, they need Uribe even more. Fact is, sometimes you overpay just because you have to overpay, because you would overpay more with someone else, either in cash now or disappointment later.
Will the thong be as charming next year? No. Will Huff be as charming next year? Who knows? But on this Tuesday, this is a deal that had to be done for no better reason than the alternatives were worse, some far worse.
But check back with us in July. We're not writing the checks, and we can change our minds at any point and pretend we saw it coming, even if we didn't.What'syour take? EmailRayand let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.