Saturday, March 29, 2008

The writing was on the wall

This will not be my last Justin Huber post but I promise it will be my last Huber-wronged-by-the-Royals post. Since he was traded a few days ago there have been all kinds of articles written about him and a ton of forum debates. And since I apparently am being mocked for sponsoring the baseball-reference page of a San Diego Padre I thought I'd write one last chapter at Royally Speaking about the mishandling of Justin Huber. Make no mistake he was mishandled and the Royals are guilty of one count of prospect negligence. Prospect negligence is what happens when a team fails to find out what they have in a player and eventually gives him away for nothing. Now this shouldn't be confused with gross prospect misconduct which is what happens when a team rushes a player to the big leagues when he is clearly not ready. I have three pieces of evidence to support my claim of prospect negligence, they are:
  • 2005 - 85 PA's
  • 2006 - 11 PA's
  • 2007 - 10 PA's
The prosecution rests. 106 PA's in three seasons and yet Dayton Moore wishes they had more time, it's simply mind boggling. Some people like to say that Huber was given a fair shot in 2005 and since he failed to capitalize he only has himself to blame. That's a bunch of garbage. Huber hit .218/.271/.256 that year in basically one month plus four games. Was that really all KC needed to see to decide that he couldn't hit major league pitching?
Then how come these players are still on the roster?
  • Mark Teahen after one full month was batting .242/.287/.379
  • Alex Gordon after one full month was batting .173/.316/.296
  • John Buck after one full month was batting .167/.235/.218
Of course we know why, Teahen & Buck were involved in the Beltran trade and Gordon is the franchise savior but the point is they were given time to adjust to major league pitching so why wasn't Huber afforded that same opportunity? It's not like he was a nobody, Huber was a highly rated prospect and just absolutely tore up the minors in '05. He should have been on the opening day roster in '06 but of course he wasn't. Doug Mientkiewicz played in just 91 games at 1st base and Mike Sweeney played in just 60 as a 1b/DH and still Huber came to the plate just eleven times.
Time and opportunity indeed.

Huber detractors also like to point at his defense, or lack thereof. It's true he is defensively challenged but with all the time Sweeney spent on the DL the last three years Huber should have been his natural replacement. My main point of contention with the mishandling of Huber is the fact he was largely ignored last September in favor of Emil Brown, a guy everyone knew was not going to be on the team this year. Huber should have been the everyday DH and Billy Butler should have been playing 1st base and maybe two questions would have been answered heading into spring training but of course that's not what happened. Thank you Buddy Bell. So when DM waxes poetic about time & opportunity not being on Huber's side well that's just GM-speak for "I made up my mind in 2006".

Huber critics also insist that the scouts seen all they needed to see and we should just blindly trust their judgment. Fair enough, but are these the same scouts that only needed to see 97 PA's from Matt Diaz? All he has done the last two seasons is hit .327/.364/.475 and .338/.368/.497 for the Atlanta Braves. Are these the same scouts that only needed 67 PA's from Jeff Keppinger to determine he wasn't any good? He hit .332/.400/.477 last year for the Reds. So you'll excuse me for not believing that scouts are infallible. Scouts swing and miss a lot and all teams sometimes have a bad habit of giving up on some players too quickly while staying with other players too long. With the way the roster was put together heading into spring training everyone knew Huber had a slim chance of making the team so the trade didn't come as shock, sometimes you can expect the expected.

I don't know if Huber will ever be a productive major league hitter but the point is neither do the Royals because they refused to find out. And it appears that Huber's biggest fault, and the one that got him shipped out of town, is the fact that he is not a 32 year old journeyman. Too bad because then Buddy Bell would have loved him.


  1. The B-R header you have for your sponsorship is hilarious and right on!