Nov. 24, 2010
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URBAN: HUFF SIGNING ENSURES CONTINUITY
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Aubrey Huff flew over San Francisco and was reminded again why he loves it so much.
Huff took a short break to decompressafter the World Series, then wasted little time accomplishing hisoffseason plan: re-signing with the Giants.
Huff is staying put with SanFrancisco just as he'd hoped, agreeing to a 22 million, two-yearcontract with the World Series champions Tuesday. He receives 10million in each of the next two seasons, and the Giants have a 10million club option for 2013 with a 2 million buyout.
"There was a big interest out there.But in the end, it wasn't going to take much to come back here for me,"Huff said at AT&T Park. "Some other team would have had to blow meaway with like a four-year deal or something and a lot, a lot of doughto stay away from here."
The Giants matched a similarly structured offer from another club - knowing full well Huff wanted to stay.
"We paid the piper, and you can'tlook back," general manager Brian Sabean said during a conference call."He was obviously underpaid for what he did for us last year. ... Hecertainly did his part and received a just reward for it."Later Tuesday, the Giants offeredinfielder Juan Uribe salary arbitration. Players offered arbitrationhave until next Tuesday to accept. Uribe batted .248 with 24 homers and85 RBIs in his second season with San Francisco.
Huff hit .290 with a team-leading 26home runs and 86 RBIs while playing in 157 games, then batted .268 withone homer and eight RBIs in the postseason as the Giants won theirfirst title since 1954.
Considering the mutual interest, itwas no surprise a deal got done quickly, less than a month after theclub beat Texas in five games to capture the city's first championshipsince moving West in 1958.
"Obviously with a big contract comesa big responsibility on the field and in the community," Huff said."I'll take pride in that."
The 33-year-old Huff reached theplayoffs for the first time in his 11-year big league career. He hit atwo-run homer in a 4-0 Game 4 World Series victory, then laid down hisfirst career sacrifice bunt in the clincher.
I've played nine years of losingbaseball for not-so-good teams and this is the most fun I've hadplaying baseball in my life," Huff said. "To be able to come back andtry to have a chance to defend this title which we earned this year,and to do it in this great city and this great organization, it'sactually a big moment for me."
San Francisco signed Huff - hislucky red rally thong also certain to come back in 2011 - to a 3million, one-year contract last January to provide a boost in themiddle of the batting order. And the Giants got it.
"He's a loose character but hedoesn't take himself too seriously. He takes the game seriously,"manager Bruce Bochy said. "He was such an important piece of the club.You don't have very many players who can do what Aubrey can do, playfirst and the outfield and the left-handed bat."
The Giants were counting on Huff returning to his 2008 form, when he hit .304 with 32 homers and a career-best 108 RBIs.
He certainly showed plenty ofimprovement, not to mention versatility playing both first and leftfield, in bouncing back from a career-worst .241 batting average in2009 with Baltimore and Detroit.
"Being flexible keeps you around the game longer," Huff said.
Bringing back Huff was an importantfirst step in keeping the winning roster largely intact to try to makeanother deep postseason run.
"It was critical for the lineup. Thegood teams, they really have continuity," Sabean said. "We want tocreate that through retention. The more of these guys we can keeptogether the more strength we have in numbers. It will be interestingto see what we can do to retain our own people to improve the lineupfrom what we started with at the beginning of the season."
Now, Sabean turns his attention tobringing back shortstop and third baseman Uribe. Sabean said the clubalso had discussions Tuesday regarding other available shortstops tofill the void left by departed World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, whomight retire.
"So this may take some time to getsorted out," Sabean said of Uribe. "I think both parties are willing todo something faster, we're just not talking the same language inballpark figures. You have to be patient because we like the player ...but you do have to do business at hand and that's why we're jugglingthe trade scenario. I really don't know what the outside world is goingto bring to him offer wise."
San Francisco also has eightarbitration-eligible players. While Sabean has said it would be nice totender contracts to all, that might not be realistic. Keeping Cody Rossis a priority. The NL championship series MVP, acquired on a waiverclaim from Florida on Aug. 22, hit .288 with three homers and sevenRBIs in 33 games and emerged as an unlikely postseason star.
His figure is not going to affectthe payroll," Sabean said. "We're willing to make that sacrifice to seewhat we can get done."
In addition, third baseman PabloSandoval, coming off a down year in his second full major leagueseason, has decided to train in Arizona during the offseason instead ofsplitting time between the team's spring training facility and SanDiego. The Giants want him to lose weight. The free-swinging Sandovalhit .268 in 2010 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs while striking out 81times.