Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aubrey Huff In Baltimore: He Just Wanted to Take It Home

San Francisco first baseman Aubrey Huff sat down with Baseball Prospectus' David Laurilla to talk about his season and his career. The Baltimore-related excerpts:

DL: You’re happier here in San Francisco?


AH: Oh yeah, man. I’m in a pennant race, the staff is good, the organization—everything here is first class...


I found out as soon as I got to spring training. We have a facility [in Scottsdale, Arizona] that is top notch. All the staff was awesome, the whole nine yards. We have a great weight room. In Baltimore we had this Fort Lauderdale Stadium with a weight tent outside, with just some rental equipment, and that’s not cool. To me, this organization does everything right.


DL: How much do things like that matter to a player?


AH: They matter a ton. When you’re in spring training with a facility like the one we had in Fort Lauderdale, with rental weight equipment, it just goes to show how much farther ahead every other team is than you are.


DL: Does being on a winning team impact a player’s performance?


AH: Without question. It makes you happier, and when you’re happy you play better. And I’m extremely happy this year. I was in the American League East for nine years—pretty much my whole career. I was with Tampa the first six years, when they were the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and they weren’t good. Then I spent the last three with Baltimore, when they were pretty much dead last while Tampa was good. It was always a grind for me coming to the field against teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, knowing that you’re probably going to lose. I come to this place and know we have a great chance to win every single day, so it‘s just a completely different feel for me.


DL: Do you think your 2010 performance is directly related to that feeling?


AH: Absolutely. I mean, I don’t know where I’d be right now, performance-wise, if I was still in Baltimore. I might be at the point where I just want to take it home. It got to that point, seriously, the last couple of years there.

First things first...he's absolutely right about the Spring Training facilities. The setup in Fort Lauderdale was embarrassing and he's not the only player to say so. It was a poor reflection on the organization that the Orioles had to use those sub-standard facilities for so many years.

It's the on the field stuff that I was more intrigued by. What does losing do to a player? After nine years of last place (or near), what does that do to a player's psyche? You're seeing a little of it here. Huff is honest enough to reveal that, yes, it wears on you as a player and, for him, it was harder to play well when you were getting your head handed to you.

But Carl Crawford has been in Tampa Bay for a long time with only recent success and it hasn't affected his performance. But Huff has been in a pennant race before. The Rays traded him to the Astros in 2006 and he didn't hit any better once he got there. He really hit a little worse. When the Orioles traded him to the Tigers last season, he stunk even worse than he had in Baltimore for a team that had to play 163 games to decide their season.

While I'm sure a winning environment helps a player a bit, I think his comments say more about Huff as a player than the situation he's in. Listen to this again:

I mean, I don’t know where I’d be right now, performance-wise, if I was still in Baltimore. I might be at the point where I just want to take it home. It got to that point, seriously, the last couple of years there.


He just said that he probably wouldn't be hitting this well in Baltimore because he would just be packing it in. Go through the motions at the park and go home. Sound like a guy you want on your team?  Think the Orioles should have resigned him for 2010?

I would imagine that Huff doesn't think he was one of the reasons so many of those teams he was on were losers in the first place.

5 comments:

The Oriole Way said...

Great post, but one objection:
"It was a poor reflection on the organization that the Orioles had to use those sub-standard facilities for so many years."

I don't think the Orioles "had" to use those facilities; they instead chose to do so. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that this situation could not have been upgraded. Thus, it doesn't just reflect poorly on the organization, it actually epitomizes the organization. I think you're being too easy on the club here.

Heath said...

I guess the sentence should have read, "It was a poor reflection on the organization that the Oriole players had to use those sub-standard facilities for so many years."

The Ft. Lauderdale facility (and the Spring Training setup in general) did reflect poorly on the organization. It was embarassing and the Sarasota move was many years overdue.

My biggest gripe with Angelos has never been penny-ante crap like rude ushers or Baltimore on the away uniforms. It was with a lack of investment in the farm system, scouting and secondary facilities like the Spring Training "complex".

The Oriole Way said...

Completely agree there; that the Orioles had the big leaguers on one side of Florida and the minor leaguers across the state was completely inexcusable. Frankly, I think it's an area like this where Buck Showalter could do the most good.

Daniel said...

Old, and not the best stats, but this goes to the playing better on a winning team thing:

http://frostkingbaseball.blogspot.com/2008/08/junior-rejuvenated.html

Steve G. said...

I definitely think that some players probably play better on a winning team (Huff), but for every guy like that, I bet there are some that wilt under media pressure (Knoblauch, Javier Vasquez) or who plays the same regardless (your example of Carl Crawford).

I never knew that about the Orioles practice facility, but yeah, that's a joke if they're relying on rental equipment and what not. I realize it is a different line item in the budget, but think of all the money they've wasted on player contracts. Not signing one of those guys probably gives you money to at least put in a proper weight room and what not.