|Inconsistent and struggling offensively in the second half against top-flight teams, the Tigers made a move to solidify their lineup by acquiring 32-year-old first baseman Aubrey Huff from the Orioles. Baltimore received 22-year-old righthanded reliever Brett Jacobson in the waiver-wire deal.
Coming off a career year in 2008 in which he hit .304/.360/.552 with 32 home runs and 96 RBIs for Baltimore, Huff hasn’t been the same player in 2009. He’s batting .253/.321/.405 with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs. Huff is struggling on the road (.224 average with three home runs) and is striking out at a higher rate (17.2 percent) than any other season in his career. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Huff is in the final year of his contract, so he can opt for free agency after the season.
Though they sit two games up on the White Sox in the AL Central, the Tigers have fared poorly on the road against fellow playoff contenders since the All-Star break. Coming out of the break, the Yankees swept a three-game series from Detroit, and more recently the Tigers dropped five of seven games to the Rangers and Red Sox. In the Tigers’ eight losses to those teams, they scored a combined 22 runs. In their two wins, they scored 15 runs.
|The Young Player|
|Jacobson was Detroit’s fourth-round pick in 2008 out of Vanderbilt. A top prep recruit out of Arizona, Jacobson did not live up to the hype as a Commodore. He opened his sophomore through senior seasons as a starter, but he eventually moved to the bullpen each year. He had his most success as the team’s set-up man or closer, and he profiles best as a reliever in the pro ranks. For high Class A Lakeland, Jacobson was 1-3, 3.75 with six saves and 44 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings over 35 appearances.
At 6-foot-6 and 205-pounds, Jacobson has a great pitcher’s frame and a live arm. He sits 89-92 mph with his fastball, but he touches the mid-90s at times. He’s also working on developing a curveball, and his changeup is a work in progress. Some have questioned his ability to pitch late in games because of a perception that he had backed down from competition while in the amateur ranks.
With Double-A righthander Cody Satterwhite and Triple-A righthander Casey Fien closing games at higher levels, Detroit traded from an organizational strength. The Tigers turned Jacobson into a middle-of-the-order bat for the stretch run. With Huff gone, Luke Scott should fill in full-time at first base, making room for both Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie, who have been splitting time in left field, to play everyday.
Huff, who came up to the big leagues as an outfielder, has primarily been a first baseman and DH for Baltimore over the last three seasons. He is a .291/.356/.519 hitter against righthanded pitchers over the last three seasons and figures to serve a platoon role. Healthy and recovered from a shoulder injury that kept him out during May, June and July, Carlos Guillen is ready to play in the field. That means Huff should split time with righthanded-hitting Marcus Thames as the Tigers’ DH.