On Sunday, the Tigers finally acquired the right-handed bat off the bench they had been looking for.
Jeff Baker is his name and hitting lefties is his game.
He will be wearing the #18 on his Olde English D uniform when he suits up on Monday for the series opener against the New York Yankees.
Baker, the former Colorado Rockie and most recently Chicago Cub, was traded to Detroit on Sunday for two players to be named later. The Tigers will have until October 31st to decide which two players to send to the Cubs.
Since the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline had passed, the Cubs had to place Baker on waivers to move him. The Tigers made a claim for him and then subsequently acquired him.
Baker is a 31-year-old utility man who has started at the first, second, third base positions, as well as the two corner outfield spots. His versatility makes up for the recent demotion of former Tiger utility man Don Kelly. As well as a right-handed bat off the bench who can hit left-handed pitching.
“Primarily, we were just looking for someone to swing the bat against left-hand pitching, and he’s a good fit in that regard. He’s hit them well throughout his career,” Dombrowski said. “It’s a lot like what really we were hoping Ryan Raburn would do, and had struggled for us this year.”
Jeff’s career number against lefties are quite impressive. He’s hitting at a .304 clip with 25 home runs and 97 RBI. Also, his OPS (on-base + slugging percentage) is quite high as well at .869.
Even though this isn’t the most “sexiest” move by Dombrowski, I still believe it’ll be an effective one. In Baker, the Tigers will get a guy who can play multiple positions, which helps when giving regulars days off. A bat that’ll hit and hit well against lefties and just a flat out solid role-player off Jim Leyland’s bench which’ll play a key role in the Tigers playoff push.
Here are some quotes from Jeff upon his arrive today in Detroit:
“In Chicago, we were going through a little bit of a rebuilding phase, and we were definitely going younger, so I was kind of taking role of mentoring some of those young guys and helping them become big leaguers and learn how to go about their business every day,” Baker said. “I get to come over here and it’s about winning. Every day is about winning, trying to get into the postseason, and I’m definitely fired up.”
A tweet from Tom Gage of the Detroit News: newest of #Tigers Jeff Baker on what he thought when hearing thousands of Detroit fans at Wrigley in June: “Must be fun to play in Detroit.”