Dec 9, 2009, 4:07 PM EDT
Austin Jackson is arguably the centerpiece of the package heading to the Tigers from the three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Detroit plans to have him replace Curtis Granderson as the Opening Day center fielder.
Teams feeling the need to show immediate results from a big, largely unpopular trade is certainly nothing new. For example, after trading Johan Santana to the Mets two winters ago the Twins turned to 22-year-old Carlos Gomez as their Opening Day center fielder. He predictably struggled, fell out of favor midway through his second season in Minnesota, and was traded to the Brewers last month with a lowly .638 OPS through 1,102 plate appearances in the big leagues.
For all his physical tools and hype there was simply little in Gomez’s track record to suggest that he was ready to thrive in the majors. Jackson is a different player with different strengths and weaknesses, but seems similarly unlikely to experience a ton of success if asked to play every day in Detroit right now. Jackson has hit for strong batting averages and swiped lots of bases in the minors, but posting a .759 OPS with a 123/40 K/BB ratio at Triple-A doesn’t exact translate to knocking around big-league pitching at 22.
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