January 7, 2013
Monday, January 7
With just over a month left before pitchers and catchers report for spring training, the free agents who are still looking for work are beginning to quiver about their off-season fates. Today’s Roundup features two such players, who have distinctly different credentials but have been united in the unemployment line.
Aubrey Huff ‘keeping fingers crossed’ for a job
According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, who spoke with Huff’s attorney, Ed Hayes, a few days ago, the 36-year-old is determined not to end his career on such a sour note. As San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Henry Schulman recounted in the afore-linked feature, Huff went into a tailspin after starting the year in a 6-for-33 slump and committing a fateful blunder during an emergency appearance at second base. Later in the year, even the Giants’ highest regular-season high became a low point for Huff, when he sprained his right knee jumping over the railing to celebrate Matt Cain’s perfect game.
Huff would reinjure that knee in late July, and he ultimately spent 68 days nursing it on the disabled list, in addition to the two weeks that he needed to recover from the anxiety disorder that triggered the panic attack. Apart from taking home his second World Series ring—despite going 1-for-9 as a pinch-hitter in the playoffs—Huff’s 2012 had few bright spots, and his eagerness to leave it in the rearview mirror could benefit a team willing to gamble on him the way the Giants did two years ago.
The key to a renaissance, as evidenced by the charts below from Huff’s Hitter Profile, will be his ability to drive pitches up in the zone:
During Huff’s outstanding 2010, pitchers who left mistakes up and on the inner half often paid the price. In 2011, he was utterly unable to drive those elevated offerings, failing to notch a single extra-base hit in what just a year earlier had been his power alley.