Aug 17, 2009, 5:33 PM EDT
It was quite a surprise that the Tigers didn’t add any offense at all before the deadline, but they had the strategy right: acquire pitching then, because quality arms are less likely to slide during the waiver process, and pick up some offensive help in August. On Monday, they got Aubrey Huff from the Orioles, adding another left-handed middle-of-the-order option, in return for Brett Jacobson.
Now that Carlos Guillen should be able to head out to left field once in a while, Huff fits in as a DH against righties. Clete Thomas and Marcus Thames stand to lose at-bats. Thomas has faded to .208/.322/.312 in 77 at-bats since the All-Star break, and Thames is only truly valuable against lefties anyway. Huff’s .253/.321/.405 line for the season is unimpressive, but he has rebounded some after an awful July and he’ll only need to play against righties in Detroit. He should be an asset.
Jacobson, 21, was a fourth-round pick by the Tigers last season. Strictly a reliever, he’s posted a 3.74 ERA and a 44/17 K/BB ratio in 55 1/3 innings for Single-A Lakeland this season. He’s been particularly good of late, pitching 13 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run in his last nine appearances. Unfortunately, his fastball-curveball combination hasn’t made him very effective against left-handed hitters. He currently projects as more of a middle reliever than a true setup man.
With Huff out of the mix, the Orioles could give Luke Scott a crash course at first base in order to see whether he’ll be an option there next year. Felix Pie figures to get additional playing time in left field, with Nolan Reimold serving as a DH more frequently. If the Orioles want to stick with the same personnel, then Ty Wigginton and Melvin Mora would also be due some extra playing time. However, the Orioles could call up first baseman Rhyne Hughes, who was just acquired from the Rays to complete the Gregg Zaun deal. The 25-year-old Hughes offers 20-homer power and a strong glove at first base. He’s hit .313/.361/.533 in 56 games in Triple-A this year. It’s doubtful that he’d hit for average in the majors, since he does strike out a ton, but he’s earned a look anyway.
The trade shouldn’t have any long-term ramifications. Huff is a free agent at season’s end, and the Orioles probably wouldn’t have risked offering him arbitration in order to land a draft pick if he left. It’s still possible that Huff could return to Baltimore as a free agent, though it’d likely have to be on a one-year deal.
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