Joe Robbins/Getty Images
A season ago, Aubrey Huff was one of the bigger offensive surprises in the American League, when he resurrected his career with 32 home runs and the fifth-best OPS in the league. This season hasn't gone nearly as well, but the Detroit Tigers hope Huff has six good weeks in him now that he's in a pennant race, after they acquired the lefty slugger from the Baltimore Orioles on Monday for a minor league pitcher.
Where the Tigers intend to play Huff is not entirely clear, but expect his bat to be in the lineup every day, probably protecting Miguel Cabrera. Huff has played mostly first base this season and spent some time at designated hitter. The Tigers' best hitter is Cabrera, but he plays first base, so they could use Huff at third base, where Brandon Inge has been fighting knee problems and struggling the second half of the season. Huff also could play left field, a black hole for the AL Central leaders; Tigers' left fielders are hitting .233 with a .660 OPS. Carlos Guillen recently returned from injury, but he isn't a very good outfielder. Huff isn't, either, and he wouldn't help Detroit pitchers at third base or outfield, but at least he's healthy.
Huff's acquisition adds depth to the Detroit lineup but doesn't significantly change his value or that of others around him. His RBI total was more a byproduct of Brian Roberts and other Orioles' being on base; Huff has hit a mere 13 home runs, and his batting average is .253, giving him his worst numbers since 2001. In fact, the Orioles have scored more runs than the Tigers this season. Maybe finally getting to play August and September games that matter will heat him up, after years of toiling for bad Orioles and Devil Rays teams, but the focus here for fantasy is what the Orioles do. Huff is a pending free agent anyway, so it wasn't surprising he was dealt.
The Orioles played Luke Scott at first base Monday, a position at which he offered no major league experience entering this season. Scott was pretty much a regular player at this point anyway and has reached 20 home runs for the second consecutive season. This does free up the left field/designated hitter slot, however. Felix Pie, who hit for the cycle last week, should get a more extended look, but other than his big game against the Angels, he hasn't contributed much. Pie and Nolan Reimold could platoon, while Ty Wigginton figures to get more at-bats as well, probably at the DH spot. Wigginton has hit more than 20 home runs each of the past three seasons.
Although Huff moving on doesn't have major repercussions in fantasy baseball, it's yet another reminder that trades do happen in August. Who knows? Someday we might all know the name of the Class A pitcher the Orioles picked up. Brett Jacobson was a fourth-round draft pick in 2008 and does throw in the mid-90s, after all. Check back in 2011.
• The Washington Nationals were in the news Monday night, despite not having a game scheduled, and in a nice change from what has been a poor season, the news was good. The beleaguered franchise finally signed first overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg, a difference-making right-handed starting pitcher who has been compared to the top prospects in history. Fantasy owners had been eager to add Strasburg to rosters, and although it is possible the San Diego State product will pitch in a major league game this season, it probably won't be as a starter or closer. Learn the name in keeper leagues, however. This guy could anchor the rotation in 2010.
• A day after his manager suggested his season might be over from his weekend beaning in the head, New York Mets third baseman David Wright said he was embarrassed to have been placed on the DL and intended to return to the team this season. That would be great news for fantasy owners, who had to be considering whether to drop Wright for healthier bench depth. Wright hasn't hit for power this season but remains a top-30 option on the Player Rater for his .324 batting average and 24 stolen bases. Fernando Tatis went 0-for-4 in Wright's place Monday.
• The powerful Angels, also known as the highest-scoring team in baseball, swatted four more home runs in a 8-5 win in Baltimore. Kendry Morales hit his 26th homer of the season and now has the second-best slugging percentage in the American League. Only Mark Reynolds has hit more home runs since the All-Star break. The switch-hitting Cuban might have to join the AL MVP race at some point; he's on pace for 37 home runs and 111 RBIs, after all. Check out the box score from Monday's game; the first seven Angels in the lineup are each hitting better than .300.
• Adam LaRoche seems happy to be back in Atlanta. He homered and knocked in three runs in a 9-4 win over the Diamondbacks, giving him four home runs and 10 RBIs in 14 games with the Braves. LaRoche always has been a second-half player, and the Braves are reaping those benefits after reacquiring him in July. LaRoche remains available in nearly a quarter of ESPN.com fantasy leagues.
• Jayson Nix continues to make his hits count. The scrappy second baseman hit his 10th home run, his only hit in three at-bats, and he has become an everyday player for Ozzie Guillen and might keep the second-base job even after Chris Getz comes off the DL. Nix still has a low .233 batting average, but double-digit home runs in only 165 at-bats is impressive, plus Nix hasn't been caught stealing in eight attempts.
• Closer follies: If only Carlos Marmol had been pitching well, he'd have been the Cubs' closer for months. Kevin Gregg took a 1-0 lead in San Diego on Monday and royally botched it for his sixth blown save and fifth loss. Kyle Blanks launched a three-run homer to win the game, the 12th long ball Gregg has allowed. That leads all relief pitchers. After the game, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said changes would be coming, but he didn't say whether Marmol or Angel Guzman would be in line to earn saves. ... Brian Fuentes picked up his fourth save in nine days, throwing three pitches to induce a Brian Roberts fly ball. Fuentes picked up after Jose Arredondo, who allowed a home run to Melvin Mora. ... Bobby Jenks looked sharp in a 1-2-3 ninth-inning save, a day after earning the loss in Oakland. ... Frank Francisco also breezed through a strong ninth inning, striking out a pair. Francisco has pitched well in his past two outings since giving up six runs against the Red Sox on Friday. ... Matt Capps didn't get a save Monday, but considering the Pirate hadn't had a clean outing in 11 days, he'll take it. Capps still doesn't have a save this month, and only one since July 18.
Vladimir Guerrero, Angels
For the second consecutive Monday, Guerrero hit two home runs, but this time he knocked in five runs as well. Guerrero has six home runs in August, and although detractors point out that he doesn't steal bases and won't be eligible in the outfield next season, enjoy this .300 batting average and resurgence in power.
Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
There might be another Cy Young in Carpenter's future, as the right-hander beat the Dodgers in their place Monday, allowing five hits in eight innings to earn his 13th win of the season. Carpenter lowered his ERA to 2.27, second in baseball to Tim Lincecum, and his WHIP is second to only Dan Haren.
Perfect White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle has been anything but since making history. None of the other 16 pitchers to have thrown a regular-season perfect game went winless in his next five starts, but Buehrle has, and his ERA is a bloated 5.85 during that span after he permitted nine hits and four runs to the Royals on Monday.
• Atlanta Braves center fielder Nate McLouth was placed on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury, only two days after manager Bobby Cox said such a move wouldn't be necessary. Reid Gorecki was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett, but Ryan Church is expected to land a more regular role in center field. Not only is Church not much of a fantasy option, but he's also not a center fielder. Derek Lowe will really want to induce ground balls in the near future.
• As expected, a pair of veteran right-handers received their official releases Monday, but both John Smoltz and Vicente Padilla likely will find work soon after they pass through waivers on Wednesday. Smoltz got pounded pretty much every time out for the Red Sox but could find himself in a relief role elsewhere. Padilla had moments of success this season for Texas, but the Rangers had enough young pitching to part with him. The Dodgers started knuckleballer Charlie Haeger on Monday, so clearly they could use a bit of rotation help. Padilla could be a decent pickup if he called Dodger Stadium home.
• The Cubs welcomed Ted Lilly off the DL with a gift matchup at San Diego, and the left-hander responded with six shutout innings. He didn't earn the win, because the Cubs first couldn't score off Padres "ace" Kevin Correia and then couldn't hold the lead, but Lilly seems safe to return to fantasy lineups. He threw only 70 pitches but should be able to go deeper into this weekend's game at the Dodgers. Pitcher Justin Berg was sent back to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Lilly.
Click here for all the latest MLB transactions.
Matthew Berry: Absolutely. 16 K, no walks in 8 2/3 IP. I said on today's podcast and our online video show that he should be added in 10-team mixed leagues. You will run out of starts soon and he'll get six to eight K's a week with a shot at vulture wins and saves.
-- Full chat transcript
Keith Law: I'd certainly give him an extended chance. Had a great swing and a good minor league track record before he got to Cleveland.
-- Full chat transcript
Tuesday's fantasy chat schedule:
Brendan Roberts, 3 p.m. ET
• Former Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young hit his first home run down at Triple-A Reno, which is certainly not where he wants to be. Young, who hit 32 home runs and stole 27 bases in 2007, batted .194 this season for Arizona and earned a demotion. For Reno, he has hit .412 in 17 at-bats. The home run off Astros minor leaguer Mark McLemore was nice, but the two walks Young earned on the night would be a better harbinger.
• The Cubs look as though they could use major league relief help. Down at Triple-A Iowa, Jeff Stevens and Blake Parker closed out a win over Tacoma for former big leaguer Casey Fossum. Stevens has been with the Cubs this season; for Iowa, he has a 2.09 ERA and 13 holds, but during his past 10 outings, his ERA is 0.56 and he's struck out 22 hitters against two walks. Parker has 16 saves and a 2.55 ERA. Someone might be in a position to help out Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol soon.
• Pedro Martinez makes his second start for the Phillies, taking on the Diamondbacks and Jon Garland. Martinez did fine for four innings in his first outing at Wrigley Field before running into trouble in the fifth, but he had huge run support. Garland has allowed more than three earned runs only once in nine starts. Martinez has been one of the most added pitchers in ESPN.com leagues.
• Speaking of rehabilitated arms off the scrap heap, the White Sox get to see the latest version of Freddy Garcia. The right-hander made one start in the International League, striking out nine in six innings, and either he could fill the starts until Jake Peavy is ready, or if he pitches well, Jose Contreras could lose his rotation spot. Either way, Garcia couldn't have too many better matchups than facing the Royals.
• For more on Tuesday's games, check Daily Notes.