I don't know if the Oakland Press columnist Pat Caputo is tapping into his sources or if he's just blowing smoke, but he's got a rumor so we'll pass it on: The Tigers are "eyeballing" Cubs infielder Jeff Baker, he wrote last night.
It would make sense. His best position is second base, but he has played extensively at third base in his career. He is a solid .275 career hitter (.306 this season) and has experience in a pennant race with Colorado in 2007.
I could find no other source reporting about Baker, for the record.
And to be honest, it's for the best if the Tigers aren't pursuing Baker. Some numbers to chew on: .379 BABIP in his first half. 2.9% walk rate. 21.6% strikeout rate. .120 ISO. People ether want to make too much or too little of strikeouts. But the fact is, Baker is a guy who strikes out a lot, doesn't hit for a lot of power, isn't walking this year and has a batting average that is largely unsustainable. ZiPS projects him to bat .267 with a. .313 on-base percentage for the rest of the year.
He's not exactly Adam Everett with the glove either. The sample sizes for the infield positions were a bit too small to feel confident with, so I turned to TangoTiger's fan scouting report to give me an assist. On a 0-100 scale where 50 is average, he was given a 38 overall from the fans, based on 33 instincts, 34 catching, 38 throwing strength and 34 throwing accuracy.
Trading for him with the idea he should start would be an issue for me. Trading for him as a utilityman -- well, Ramon Santiago already has that role doesn't he? To me, you make this trade because you have no faith in Ryan Raburn turning his season around, no faith in Santiago hitting the ball better, no faith in Carlos Guillen remaining healthy and it comes at an inexpensive price. By the way: back spasms! Jeff Baker left with them five days ago.
I don't think you need to go out to trade for a big name at the deadline, but I just don't see this as a deal to pursue. The Tigers already have enough Jeff Bakers.
Maybe what they need is a Jeff Keppinger instead. At least he brings something new to the table: a distinct lack of strikeouts and almost average fielding.
Of course, Keppinger's availability might be a bit of an unknown. SI's Jon Heyman wrote:
One GM predicted that it will be "hard to trade with the Astros.'' He suggested that the Astros would try to "win trades to save their jobs,'' with a new owner coming in. That's too bad, because Houston is done and needs to restock at the upper levels of the minor leagues, competitors say.