Misfits And Castoffs, Part 2
(originally written 11/3/10)
#17 Aubrey Huff, First Base
Huff spent the majority of his nine years playing mostly for woeful Devil Rays and Orioles squads, which no human being should be punished with.
The big guy wasn't exactly a hot commodity in the wake of a tough 2009 season with the Detroit Tigers. Far from it, in fact.
In an era laden with talented first basemen everywhere you look, Huff’s career may have ended if not for the Giants' dice roll. He repaid that gamble—with interest. Huff’s final numbers (.290, 26, 86) won't wow anybody at first glance, but in the season’s middle months he carried the team on his back and even sparked brief MVP talk. In the World Series, Huff drove in four critical runs (offsetting a costly two-run error). The founder of the “Rally Thong” also loosened the screws on what has traditionally been a tight Giants clubhouse.
#10 Travis Ishikawa, First Base
After being the primary first baseman in 2009’s first half, Ishikawa's role became that of defensive replacement/pinch-hitter all of 2010. Though he only started 25 games—one in the postseason—Travis did enjoy a couple of highlights; his grand slam at Colorado in July and his inexplicable non-run vs. Phil Cuzzi and the Mets. Not only did he not commit an error himself all season; his scoops at 1B saved his mates from errors as well.
#39 Roberto Kelly, Coach
Unless he was keeping guys separated during a brawl, we never heard Kelly’s name mentioned all season. Which means he did his job.
#55 Tim Lincecum, Starter
Timmy seemed on a fast track for consecutive Cy Young #3 in the season’s early months. He began by winning his first four starts, and robbed of a fifth in the infamous Jayson Werth bloop three-run triple game (so flukish it shouldn’t even count, SHOULD it?). He endured the worst slump of his career in August, going winless with an ERA of 7.82, but rebounded as soon as the calendar flipped and, save for his 8th-inning NLCS appearance and a shaky WS Game 1 start, was the Lincecum of old by-and-large. In spite of his slump, he still finished 16-10, 3.43, 231 K—good for 10th in the Cy Young voting and first in f-bombs dropped on live media.
#49 Javier Lopez, Reliever
I may be your Giants blogger here at PSB, but I’m HARDLY the end-all on any subject. Case in point: the veteran lefty specialist acquired from Pittsburgh July 31 for two 4A Giants, which at the time I felt was overpayment. Lopez, an eight-year veteran who earned his first World Series ring with the 2007 Red Sox, shut down most regular-season foes (including MVP Joey Votto, whose swing Lopez broke down into a comically indecisive flail when the Reds came to SF) with marked efficiency. Then, in the NLCS, he reduced future Hall-of-Famers Chase Utley (0-for-5) and Ryan Howard (1-for-5, three K) to near-haplessness; only 2 of 14 batters reached base against him. Unlike the last prominent Giant reliever to wear #49, Lopez “did his job”.
#31 Hensley Meulens, Coach
This is a tough one—If we credit him and him alone for the turnarounds of Renteria, Huff, Sanchez and Burrell after poor offensive years, then we have to blame him for Panda’s regression and Uribe’s inconsistency. Neither is fair. We’ll have to go this route: Bam Bam helped the Giants by doing nothing to change star-in-the-making Buster Posey. A player like #28 with a swing like he’s got need not be tinkered with.
#59 Guillermo Mota, Reliever
Mota had been around a LONG time for a number of teams, most notably the Expos, Marlins and Dodgers. At one time he was one of baseball’s filthiest setup men. Now, at 37, he was fighting for a roster spot in Spring Training with hopefuls 15 years his junior. An afterthought. A longshot. But Mota wrested away a spot in the seven-man bullpen from candidates such as Alex Hinshaw, Osiris Matos, Byung-Hyun Kim, and others. He began the season nearly unhittable, including a very impressive eight-pitch save against Florida as well as a tough five-out win against the Dodgers in which three of the outs were via K (Brian Wilson was unavailable in both instances). When Mota was hit, it was usually in games the Giants were going to lose anyway, not unlike Jeff Fassero in 2005.
#28 Buster Posey, Catcher
The Kid enjoyed SO many key hits in 2010, I couldn’t possibly document all the instances here. The insurance run he provided in World Series Game 5 with a homer to dead-center ranks as the most meaningful. Not to be overlooked is the regularity with which the rook erased opposing basestealers (37%, fourth in the NL), plus the opportunity his emergence gave SF to dispatch the reportedly unhappy Bengie Molina. For years Giants fans clamored for a homegrown star position player. Well, now we got one.
He’s already one-up on guys like Mike Piazza, Carlton Fisk and more with that big ol’ championship ring; with the blessing of health he has NO ceiling. I’d like it if Boch gave him more rest in 2010—and by more rest, I mean butt on bench, hawking seeds, not at first base.
#52 Ramon Ramirez, Reliever
Ramon has had an up-and-down career, but he was at his best for the Giants down the stretch once donning the Orange and Black. Just check out the numbers: 27 innings, 13 hits, 0.67 ERA. When they’re that good, they don’t lie. When the usually rock-solid Sergio Romo hit turbulence, Ramirez even held down the 8th inning on occasion. Furthermore, he even logged four games in a row for Bruce Bochy at one point—a rarity for a non-specialist. He didn’t quite show his best under the bright postseason lights; no matter.