Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Waiver Claims

Yesterday we lost Chad Huffman on waivers to the Yankees. You never enjoy losing a player, as you put him on your roster at one point in order to protect him. Nevertheless, these transactions always have multiple sides.

The Good
We're now at the point where we're losing good players in these situations, which speaks well of our organizational depth. Ok, I admit that's a pyrrhic victory of sorts. The main "good" to take from this situation is the acquisition of Aaron Cunningham (and even the re-acquisition of Scott Hairston). Aaron, in all candor, moved ahead of Chad on the corner OF depth chart, and the play of both Blanks and Venable didn't help either. Furthermore, we feel we have a couple of good corner OF's in AA San Antonio this season in Sawyer Carroll and Kellen Kulbacki. These guys now will have an increased opportunity. Here's hoping they take advantage of it.

The Bad
We lost the player. And, he's a pretty good one. Chad was a 2nd round pick in 2006 out of TCU and has been a successful minor league hitter throughout his pro career, posting an OPS over .800 in each season. While crushing lefties early in his career, Chad had his most successful year yet against RHP during his first season in AAA in 2009. He always controlled the strike zone and also hit for some power - a combination we like. We think he'll be a good Major League hitter.

The Ugly
The Yankees! In all seriousness, the last two guys we've lost on waivers this winter/spring, Mike Ekstrom and Chad Huffman, have been claimed by two of the best teams in baseball - the Rays and the Yankees (and the Rays also claimed Jose Lobaton late last season). At least they're both in the AL. They really don't need our help! Then again, it does reflect the relative, and growing, attractiveness of the players in our system.

This wasn't an easy decision, as we feel good about our 40-man roster at this point. We talked about a number of different guys and worked through various scenarios - who had the best chance to clear waivers, what depth did we have, what depth did we anticipate needing during the year, etc.

We hate to lose good players. Additionally, we hate to lose good people, and Chad is a tremendous clubhouse guy. Getting beyond the selfish aspect, we're excited for Chad. We truly wish him the best with the Yankees and will be rooting for him to make it to New York and contribute to the big league team.

15 comments:

DrHopster said...

Hello Paul, I'm real disappointed in the loss of Chad Huffman on this one...If I had to make the call here my choice would have been Cesar Carrillo. Yeah I know were talking about 1st rounder to 2nd rounder here but Carrillo I dont see any more upside on him, unfortunately when we drafted him we got a lame arm that went under the knife and believe he would have passed through waivers...I believe Huffman while moving down on our depth chart would have been a nice add-in on any deal we might make for a player if we are in it in June July (Gotta have faith!) and I believe we are deeper in our pitching in the minor leagues than we are in players...So whoever made the decision on Huffman DROPPED THE BALL in my own personal opinion...

Paul DePodesta said...

DrHopster,

That's fair, and we'll wear it if we're wrong. In fact, we're wrong often in these situations - more often than we'd like. That said, pitching is more unpredictable, both to the upside and the downside, and in our circumstances here we'll generally err on the side of protecting pitching.

I like your faith!

Paul R. said...

Glad to see you back posting, Paul.

Neal said...

Paul,

Why was Chad on the 40 man roster in the first place?

Is this an argument against bringing guys up for a taste, when you don't need to?

JamieMHoyle said...

Correct me if I am wrong Paul, but I believe I heard Grady Fuson on the radio several times last season lamenting Huffman's lack or progress. Specifically, I remember him saying the organization was frustrated with his lack of consistent contact (too much swinging for the fences). Granted, Fuson is not with the organization anymore, but did that still apply?

It seems like Huffman has been "on the radar" for two or three years, but had been stuck in neural to some extent. Whether that was because he was underperforming, or because he was just getting passed on the depth chart by the progression of others is up for debate. In any case, it seems like Huffman and Blanks are very similar players and if Blanks is truly that much better (I believe he is), then the team made the right call.

Rusty said...

Neal,

If he wasnt on the 40 man roster he would have been exposed to the rule 5 draft anyway........

Off to Extremes said...

Since the Yankees claimed Hoffman, did they have to make room for him on their 40 man roster or did they already have room?

WebSoulSurfer said...

Welcome back Paul. Good to see you blogging again.

I was surprised to see Huffman go, but not disappointed. I had thought that with all the depth in the system that it would be a pitcher like Liz that would be dropped from the 40 man.

I don't think either Huffman or Liz has much of a chance of making the major league roster so its not a big loss either way.

I hope to see you posting a little more often. I really enjoy your articles and your viewpoint on the Padres and baseball.

Chris said...

I was wondering in regards to placing Huffman on waivers, why Garrison wasn't simply placed on the 60 day DL.(players on the 60 day DL don't count against the 40 man roster, correct?) I have heard that his knee injury will keep him out till mid-season. Or is Garrison closer to returning?

Wayne said...

You guys are a bunch of fools. Thanks for the power hitting righty and enjoy the basement. I could run ur organization better but I guess I can't get hired without an ivy league degree. hahahahahahah

sdsuaztec37 said...

Thank you Kevin Towers :)

Ace2110 said...

Paul,

Welcome back.

I certainly don't think losing Huffman hurts long term, although I do wonder some of the specific rational that goes in to some of the decisions made on the 40 man side of things. It will be interesting to see what Stairs produces this year in that respect since there is a direct correlation there.

Emill said...

Hi Paul,

This is way off topic but...
I'm a big fan of the book Moneyball (a topic of which I'm sure you're thoroughly sick of hearing).
Has the release and popularizing of such concepts as sabermetrics made scouting and the discovery of hidden gems (like Kevin Youkilis) more competitive among a larger number of clubs?
Just curious as to what opinion you hold
I just can't understand the horrible state of your old club, the A's. They're virtual cellar dwellers as of late.

Poolie said...

Hi Paul,

It's great to have you back!

I could not believe that you guys chose to keep a 42 yo .200 (at the very best)pinch hitter with nearly no power, even less Petco power, and who you guys will likely release in 6-8 weeks (re: Cliff Floyd last year) over a 24 yo with actual pure Petco-proof pure HR power such as Chad Huffman.

Desipte an admittedly awful spring, odds are high that Huffman himself could have hit more for average, and definitely way more for power, than Stairs.

Plus Chad can actually play the field (1B, corner OF, even 2B in a pinch, as it was his position in college)if needed, unlike Gramps.

The new management has been talking a lot recently about selecting players that fit Petco, either with speed/agressivity or with the pure Petco-proof HR power that only Adrian currently has. So with that last point in mind, it was quite surprising to me that the team would chose to let go of the purest HR hitter in the PCL last year, in favor of an old sweet dude with an extremely limited skill set and who basically never had much power, even 20 years ago.

So I hope that whoever ultimately made this decision reallllly enjoys the 12 hits out of 83 at bats that the sweet ole dude with a heart of gold will give us, until he is released.

Ayway, again many thanks for the amazing opportunity to be heard!

Chris said...

A player with a 24.5% K% in Triple-A very rarely is able to keep his head above water in the majors. He's not a Mark Reynolds-type hitter. It's not a big loss, the team has significant depth in that type of player.

Good to see you blogging again Paul!