There are 33 players who filed for free agency this offseason who have still not signed with a new team as of March 9.
Five of those unsigned players were employed by the Giants in 2012, more than any other franchise.
And that doesn’t even count Brian Wilson, who became a free agent when the Giants non-tendered him in December.
The Giants started the offseason with 10 free agents. The three they wanted they re-signed: RP Jeremy Affeldt, 2B Marco Scutaro and OF Angel Pagan. The two they didn’t want signed elsewhere: OF Melky Cabrera (Toronto) and OF Xavier Nady (Kansas City).
And then there are the other five.
GUILLERMO MOTA: There is not market for a 39-year-old reliever fresh off a season in which he served a 100-game suspension for a PED second strike. A third strike and he’s done. He may be done already.
FREDDY SANCHEZ: Sanchez hasn’t played a big-league game since separating his shoulder in June 2011. He said last month he’s not ready to retire, adding his “dream situation” would be to re-sign with the Giants. There is not indication of that happening, and he has not joined another club.
RYAN THERIOT: Theriot went into the offseason looking for increased playing time. That is what drew him to the Giants last offseason. He got that, but then lost it when the Giants traded for Marco Scutaro. Theriot was said to be talking with the Indians and Rangers, but that was three weeks ago.
BRAD PENNY: Penny made 31 starts for Detroit in 2011. After giving a Japan a try in early 2012, he signed with the Giants midseason, and served out of their pen in the final months of the season.
AUBREY HUFF: Huff may the most realistic of the bunch, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s “pretty much retired.” He said he’s happy spending time with family instead of getting ready for another season. So the next time we might see Huff is to collect his World Series ring next month, although he said he has not received an invite from the Giants to do so.
And then there’s the erstwhile closer, Brian Wilson.
Back in the December, the Giants were faced with three choices regarding Wilson — offer him a contract of a minimum of $6.8 million, try to negotiate a deal at a much lower rater or non-tender him.
Well, it was obvious they wouldn’t do the first. When Wilson became offended by the Giants’ offer of a incentive-laden deal, they turned to option No. 3: a non-tender.
Then we heard from Wilson camp about the multitude of teams who were interested in his services, with no actual teams named.
Wilson threw for the Mets once in January and again in February, and the Mets determined Wilson wasn’t close to pitching again in the bigs.
Now, it’s March and the last time we saw Wilson came last week when TMZ posted a video of Wilson, looking scruffier than ever, doing some shopping in a ketchup-stained T-shirt. The person taking the video asked Wilson if he would ever shave his now infamous beard to sign with the Yankees, who have a no-facial-hair policy.
Wilson’s answer? “I’m from Boston.”
There’s good news on Aubrey Huff — he hurt his knee again
OK, that may seem a bit harsh. But as it pertains to Giants fans, it’s the truth.
Aubrey Huff has been out since June 10 with a sprained knee sustained when he very ungracefully failed to leap out of the dugout to celebrate Matt Cain’s perfect game.
He was apparently set to be activated when the Giants return home from their East Coast road trip on Monday.
But those plans are on hold for now. Huff returned to San Francisco Friday to have an MRI on his knee after pulling himself out of a game with the Fresno Grizzlies because of knee pain.
With the Grizzlies set to open a weekend series in Salt Lake City, Huff was supposed to join the San Jose Giants for the weekend before being activated Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy viewed Huff was a potential alternate to the struggling Brandon Belt at first base.
But we’re not sure Huff would have had much of anything to offer.
Huff opened his 20-day minor-league rehab stint on July 4 with the Class A San Jose Giants. He went 4 for 16 (.250) with one home run, three RBI, a double, four strikeouts and three walks in five games with San Jose. Not exactly stellar numbers against Class A competition.
On Monday, he joined the Grizzlies. In four games at Triple-A, he went 2 for 13. Both hits were singles on soft loopers to center.
His 11 outs were recorded in this fashion:
- One strikeout
- Two groundouts to shortstop
- One groundout to first base
- Seven groundouts to second base
He drove in one run — on a groundout to second on Thursday — and he capped his stint with Fresno with his lone walk, before pulling himself out of the game in the third inning.
If Huff is doing THAT at Triple-A, I don’t know how the Giants think he’ll doing anything that would be an improvement on the .155 average he was hitting in 32 games with them this season.
I would rather see Belt, mired in his 3-for-30 slump, take his hacks as the Giants first baseman than Huff. With Belt, there’s at least a CHANCE he can turn things around.
But the Giants are clearly getting frustrated with Belt, as he becomes more frustrated with himself. So they must consider options, and they are not good:
- Start Buster Posey at first base with Eli Whiteside catching. They did this Friday against the Phillies, and may do it again with the lefty Cole Hamels pitching Saturday.
- They could start Joaquin Arias at third and Pablo Sandoval at first. Sandoval saw his first action at first base the other day in Atlanta. They could do this Saturday, but Arias has been getting starts at shortstop against lefties. But with Brandon Crawford swinging a hot bet, why not leave him in there.
- There’s always Brett Pill at Fresno. Pill is hitting . .283 with 4 HR and 27 RBI in 35 games at Fresno. Not bad, but over the past 10 games, Pill is hitting .195.
- They could give Conor Gillaspie another shot at third base, playing the Panda at first. Gillaspie is hitting .306 with 9 HR and 35 RBI for Fresno. But like Pill, Gillaspie is hitting .195 over his past 10 games.
- They can look to the trade market for help. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot enticing options out there.
It seems that a National League pitcher can’t throw a no-hitter without a member of the 2010 World Series champion Giants getting hurt.
When Johan Santana pitched a no-hitter against the Cardinals on June 1, reliever Ramon Ramirez landed on the DL when he strained his hamstring sprinting out to join the celebration at the mound. He has yet to return.
On Wednesday, Aubrey Huff attempted to jump over the fence protecting the dugout after Matt Cain’s perfect game and missed. Huff fell and sprained his knee.
He is expected to be placed on the disabled list. Outfielder Justin Christian is expected to be called up and join the Giants for their weekend series in Seattle.
Manager Bruce Bochy said he had planned to use Huff as a DH during the Giants’ nine-game swing into AL parks. So this could be a blessing in disguise for the Giants.
Huff was hitting .182 when he went on the DL for the first time this season because of anxiety on April 22. Since returning on May 7, his batting average has actually gotten worse.
Huff has made only four starts (all at 1B) since coming off the DL. He is 3 for 25 (.120) with one double and one RBI since May 7.
Christian, 32, has been having a solid season at Fresno. But with the Giants’ bevy of outfielders there was no place for him with the big club.
He’s been hitting .364 (with a .432 OBP) with 7 HRs and 31 RBI. He has 25 strikeouts and 25 walks in 250 ABs, and he’s 10 for 15 on stolen bases.
But we’ve seen how numbers in Fresno compare to numbers at San Francisco with players like Joaquin Arias, Conor Gillaspie and Charlie Culberson.
Brett Pill, who wasn’t an option to get called up because he just got sent down last weekend, is hitting 11 for 27 (.407) since joining Fresno.
The next question is how much will Christian play? Well against left-handers, like Friday’s starter for Seattle Jason Vargas, Christian could start, if Bochy wants to give Melky Cabrera a breather and play him at DH. Cabrera’s been nursing as sore hamstring. Cabrera has played three games as a DH in his career, including two last season with Kansas City.
In that scenario, the lineup could look like this
- RF Gregor Blanco
- 2B Ryan Theriot
- DH Melky Cabrera
- C Buster Posey
- CF Angel Pagan
- 3B Pablo Sandoval
- 1B Brandon Belt
- LF Justin Christian
- SS Joaquin Arias
An alternate lineup against lefties would be to start Hector Sanchez at catcher and Buster Posey at DH.
Against righties — the Mariners are planning to start Kevin Millwood on Saturday and Felix Hernandez on Sunday — we could see Nate Schierholtz in the DH role, or the aforementioned Sanchez catching/Posey DH scenario.
Aubrey Huff is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday.
The question is: Will the Giants activate him on Monday?
Fans hoping to get an answer to the question Sunday were disappointed.
Bruce Bochy reported met with Huff on Sunday to assess where his veteran first baseman/outfielder was at with his treatment for anxiety disorder. Bochy also met with the Giants “braintrust” to discuss the options with Huff.
One report said Huff will travel with the team Monday to Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean a thing.
It’s just as easy to get to Fresno from Los Angeles as it is from San Francisco. And with the Grizzlies set to play a day game Monday in Colorado Springs, a Huff rehab stint with Fresno wouldn’t start until Tuesday when the Grizzlies start a homestand.
Now the answer to the question “What should the Giants do with Huff?” is already clear, even if Bochy and the Giants haven’t figured it out yet.
The Giants should send Huff to Fresno for a rehab stint.
For one, the Giants will face two lefties to open the series with the Dodgers — Ted Lilly and Clayton Kershaw. Huff has not started a game this season against a lefty and he’s 0-for-4 against left-handed relievers. Huff has a .206 career average vs. Lilly in 34 at-bats. He 5 for 19 (.263) against Kershaw.
The Giants are slated to face another lefty in Patrick Corbin on Friday in Arizona. That’s three lefties in four games. Not the best situation for Huff to restart his season.
Also, he has not played in a game in more than two weeks. And even when he was playing, it was like he was raking. He’s hitting .182 for the season, which includes a 1-for-11 stretch right before he went on the DL.
A few days in Fresno would do him some good. Huff should play three games in Fresno before joining the Giants on Friday in Arizona, at the very least. A week with the Grizzlies may be better and have him rejoin the team when they return to San Francisco on May 14.
That’s what they should do. What they will do? It’s anyone’s guess.
San Francisco Giants fans finally got news regarding Aubrey Huff’s absence from the team.
And some reacted by getting angry — not at Huff, but at those charged with reporting the news.
After the Giants placed Huff on the 15-day disabled list because of an anxiety disorder, the three major media outlets covering the Giants took three different approaches with blog posts on the Huff news.
Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle put a post that was sympathetic toward Huff and cautioned restraint and understanding from those on the internet. Schulman even shared a personal note about his own mental health issues for context. You can read it here.
Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News took a more middle-of-the-road approach, simply reporting the details as revealed by team, but also including a statement that anxiety can be a debilitating condition. You can read it here.
But the post that really caught the ire of some fans was the one by Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. You can read it here.
Baggarly dug a bit deeper, revealing some personal info on Huff, including the fact that Huff’s wife had filed for divorce this offseason.
Some fans felt that the reporting of such personal issues amid a report that Huff is battling anxiety issues showed a lack of class on Baggarly’s part.
MoreSplashHits does not necessarily agree with this. In fact, we felt that the added details of his divorce, while personal, made Huff a more sympathetic figure in this story.
Without that information, Huff comes off as a baseball player making $10 million a year who is having anxiety because he’s not hitting and may lose his starting job to a younger player.
With the information, you see a guy who has anxiety over losing his family. Huff has two young children. Then the on-field issues seem more a by-product of the anxiety, instead of the cause.
Where Baggarly got in trouble, at least with some fans, was the general tone of his post leading up to the revelations about his personal life.
The tone, whether intended or not, painted Huff in a negative light. Baggarly poorly strung together phrases like when Huff left the team by “simply leaving a text message for Bochy,” that the team was “in the dark for several days,” and that his teammates still don’t have a full explanation.
But the smoking gun came when Baggarly added “the timing was especially curious” coming after Huff’s rough day Saturday when he had a mental lapse while playing second base for the first time in his career.
The “especially curious” comment seems to minimize the anxiety disorder diagnosis.
And the statement that the team was “left in the dark for several days” is not accurate. For one, the timing is exaggerated. It was more like two days, a little more than 48 hours from the time we found out that Huff wasn’t with the team to when we found out why.
If by “the team” Baggarly was referring simply to the players being in the dark, that wasn’t entirely Huff’s fault. But if Baggarly is referring to the team as in the players, coaches and front office, the statement is inaccurate.
Bochy said he didn’t know what the issue was on Monday. But on Tuesday, he said Huff had a legitimate reason to leave the team, implying that the Giants knew what was going on.
This was further confirmed by the report that Huff has already spoken to a specialist in Florida which the team helped provide him.
So the Giants knew what was going on. They just weren’t telling anyone. Why? Because it’s a personal health issue, and they didn’t want to say anything until they had some answers.
And that’s exactly why they didn’t say anything to the players.
That’s how management in any other work field would have handled it. We just tend to forget that in the got-to-know-now world of pro sports.
Given the context of Baggarly’s opening tone, the reporting of Huff’s personal issues gives the appearance of piling on. And that’s why some responded negatively.
Baggarly’s structure also seems to imply a cause-and-effect that may be inaccurate — that baseball struggles led to anxiety.
It may have been the other way around.
It could be that Huff’s anxiety led to a lack of focus on the field, leading to his recent hitting woes and to his mental lapse when he broke to cover first base (and not second base) when he was playing second base on Saturday.
In fact, that could have been the final straw for Huff, a sign he needed some help.
But the bottom line is we don’t know, nor should it be our place to figure it out.
Speaking from experience, Schulman posted this: “Everybody will have an opinion about what set this off, but you can’t know, and it’s possible Huff doesn’t know. Sometimes a panic attack just happens.”
He added: “It’s foolish to try to play psychoanalyst … and try to pick a cause.”
Well said, Hank.
Baggarly was brought to CSNBayArea.com for his ability to provide analysis along with news details. But we aren’t talking about the decision to put on a hit-and-run play, or the development of a young prospect here.
This is a serious and complicated mental health issue.
Baggarly’s attempt to link details in an effort to provide answers that are not yet available was unfair at best, reckless at worst.
All we really need to know is Huff won’t be playing for the Giants in the next two weeks. When he’s ready to tell us more, we’ll be ready to listen.
And let’s leave the analysis to the professionals.
In a move anticipated Tuesday, the Giants purchased the contract of infielder Joaquin Arias from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday.
Arias arrived in Cincinnati Wednesday afternoon, but no corresponding move was announced.
Arias was pulled out of Fresno’s game Tuesday in Tacoma.
The Giants have been playing shorthanded this entire road trip. Infielder Ryan Theriot missed games Friday and Saturday with a stomach bug. He still says he feels a little weak.
After a rainout Sunday, Aubrey Huff left the team Monday for an undisclosed family emergency. Huff flew to Florida Monday, where he has an offseason home is in Tampa.
It is expected that Huff will be placed on the restricted list or bereavement list. The difference being that the bereavement list is for players missing three to seven games dealing with a family emergency, and it is a paid leave. Players place on the restricted list are for players who will be out an indefinite period and it is unpaid.
Arias had a solid spring, and impressed the Giants with his defensive abilities. He was one of the final cuts before the opening day roster was set. Arias was second on the Fresno Grizzlies with .400 average (28 for 70) with five doubles, 2 home runs and 17 RBI in 18 games.
WEDNESDAY’S LINEUP: Manager Bruce Bochy is keeping Buster Posey’s hot bat in the lineup, even with Hector Sanchez getting the start at catcher as Barry Zito’s personal catcher. Here’s the lineup
- CF Angel Pagan
- LF Melky Cabrera
- 3B Pablo Sandoval
- 1B Buster Posey
- C Hector Sanchez
- RF Nate Schierholtz
- 2B Emmanuel Burriss
- SS Brandon Crawford
- P Barry Zito
The good news is that Crawford’s elbow, which he hyper-extended in a fall while attempting to turn a double play Tuesday, is fine. The bad news is that it means no Brandon Belt.
FREDDY SANCHEZ UPDATE: Freddy Sanchez is 3 for 7 with 3 RBI in two games as a DH for the Class A San Jose Giants. Sanchez is expected to make his first start at second base on Wednesday.
RAINOUT RAMIFICATIONS: Sunday’s rainout and subsequent doubleheader on Monday will force the Giants to find a spot starter Friday at home against the Padres.
The Giants could make it a bullpen game by giving the start to Clay Hensley or Guillermo Mota. Hensley started nine games last season for the Marlins. That decision depends on how much the bullpen gets taxed during the final two games in Cincinnati.
The other option is to call up a pitcher from Fresno.
The two options are Brian Burres, who pitched Saturday for Fresno and is not slated to pitch again until Friday, or Eric Hacker, who pitched Sunday.
Burres is 1-1 with 3.38 ERA in four starts. He has 15 strikeouts and 7 walks in 24 IP.
Hacker is 4-0 with 2.19 ERA in four starts. He has 16 strikeouts and 6 walks in 24.2 IP.
A spot on the 25-man roster would need to be opened to call up either pitcher. That would likely mean sending Dan Otero down.
Also, the Giants would need to open a spot on the 40-man roster, which could be accomplished by moving Brian Wilson from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.
It used to be that every player showed up to spring training out of shape. Then they’d spend six weeks whipping themselves into playing shape.
But those days are long gone. Most players these days spend the offseason sticking to a steady offseason workout regimen. Spring training is about refining their hitting, fielding and pitching skills.
Still, several Giants reported to camp this season and discussed (whether they wanted to or not) about their weight. In some cases, their weight kept them from reporting to camp. Here’s where how some Giants are doing in the battle against the bulge.
PABLO SANDOVAL: Yes, Sandoval’s weight is making news. And he may be getting tired talking about it. But what do you expect when your nickname is “Kung Fu Panda?” Sandoval broke in with the Giants as a lovable round rookie in 2008 and made a big splash in 2009, earning the nickname from Barry Zito (Zito’s greatest contribution as a Giant). But the pounds kept coming in 2010 and production dropped off, eventually earning Sandoval a spot on the bench as the Giants made their postseason run. Sandoval rededicated himself that offseason, losing 38 pounds. The slimmer Panda was the most productive Giants with the bat in 2011, even after missing six weeks with a broken bone in his hand. No one seemed to care as he added 10-20 pounds by season’s end. Sandoval will step on the scales Thursday, but doesn’t seem to care about the number. He spent the winter again working out in Arizona. Manager Bruce Bochy raised concerns about Sandoval’s weight a couple weeks ago, not coincidentally right about the time Sandoval signed a three-year, $17 million contract. But the skipper seemed less concerned when Sandoval arrived in cap. As long as The Panda hits and fields third base, it doesn’t really matter what his weight is.
AUBREY HUFF: Huff arrived at camp looking lean after spending the winter working out in Arizona and resuming the Pilates workouts that he did prior to the 2010 season when he hit .290 and belted 26 home runs. The Giants suggested that Huff was out of shape when he arrived at camp last spring, leading to a 2011 season in which he hit .246 and 12 homers. Huff worked himself into shape this winter because the Giants are considering playing him in left field, preferring to let Brandon Belt focus on first base. Last season, Huff looked lost in the offseason. It’s something to watch this spring.
ANGEL VILLALONA: One Giant prospect not in camp is Angel Villalona. Villalona hasn’t played baseball in two years after dealing with legal issues in the Dominican Republic. He has not been issued a visa to enter the U.S. because his visa requires him to be an “elite athlete.” Apparently, Villalona’s weight and other health issues have prevented him from earning that distinction. The Giants hope the delay is only temporary. In the meantime, he’ll continue to work out at the Giants’ Dominican facility.
BRIAN WILSON: The Giants closer said he lost 10 to 15 pounds in the offseason as he concentrated on more cardio exercising than weightlifting. Wilson said that his devotion to weightlifting last offseason may have contributed to his elbow problems that shortened his 2011. But more than that, he said it had more to do with the Giants deep postseason run of 2010 and the shortened offseason.
TIM LINCECUM: You wouldn’t generally think of The Freak and weight issues. The right-hander ended the 2010 season at 160 pounds. Thinking he needed to add bulk to aid his durability, he added 15 pounds that offseason. Normally, the pounds start to come off during the season. But last season, his weight jumped to 187, fueled by a steady diet of In-N-Out’s Double-Doubles. His weight eventually went to 196 pounds by last October. “I wore a lot of sweats that month.” Sparked by teasing from his father, Lincecum spent much of this offseason swimming and avoiding junk food. Lincecum reported to camp at 175 pounds. “I’m not crushing vegtables by any means, but I am eating a lot better.”