Dave Dombrowski cleaned out his basement and decided to rid himself of the recliner he had been meaning to get rid of for a few weeks because he didn't have a couch. His neighbor Andy McPhail was walking out of his house with a recliner to leave by the curb as well. After some heated discussion on which shade of orange looks better, Dombrowski agreed to take the recliner off of MacPhail's hands. "This'll go great in my basement! I could really use a nice, new recliner down there!"
In reality where Major League Baseball General Managers don't live on the same street and amidst all of the hoopla on what draft picks will or won't sign, Dombrowski pulled the trigger on a deal to acquire left-handed "slugger" Aubrey Huff from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for relief prospect Brett Jacobson. This would be a great deal if, you know, there weren't already numerous in-house options to pick from.
Aubrey Huff's value gets explored after the jump (and I promise, no more made up story lines in my mind)...
Huff's projected for a .334 wOBA the rest of they way. The Tigers have 45 games left, and at 85% playing time and 4 plate appearances in, we're looking at about 150 PA's. That works out to around 0.65 runs above average, but let's be generous and give him a full run (1) over the average hitter the rest of the way -- hey, maybe he goes on a mild tear.
However, devil_fingers has done some work over at Driveline Mechanics on platoon-skills. That would put Huff's platoon-wOBA at .343 the rest of the way. It still comes out to essentially 1 run offensively.
But that's not the problem. The problem is finding 85% worth of playing time for someone who's struggled so much all year and striking out a near career-high clip. Add in that he's a DH/1B that would be masquerading as a defensive helper elsewhere, and there's not much other value he'd give. He's played 48 games since 2007 at the hot corner, so he could spell Inge there (and in the last few years, he's looked just a bit below average at 3rd). Let's be generous again and call him league average at 3rd base.
He'll get starts in left field, as well, since Carlos Guillen's shoulder isn't good enough to throw or bat right-handed. Eyeballing the last few years Huff's been in the outfield, he's been probably around 5 runs below average. I'm in a good mood, so let's call him -3 in the outfield over 150 games.
1st base ... I'm not sure there's room for him. Between Carlos Guillen and Miguel Cabrera, so I'm electing to not put him at 1st for any time.
And then there's DH. Marcus Thames is DH'ing against right-handed pitching. That leaves Carlos Guillen or Aubrey Huff to DH against left-handed pitching but I'll give more of the PA's in this category to Guillen to give Huff as big of a value boost as I can.
Let's give him 20% of his starts at 3rd base, 40% of his starts in LF, and 40% of his starts as a DH. If the Tigers face 70% right-handed pitching (their season average thus far), that leaves 32 games for Huff to play in if he's a strict platoon player. Using those percentage breakdowns, that's 6 games at 3rd, 13 games in LF and 13 games at DH. That positional adjustment would be -1.91 -- we'll call it -2.
Offense = 1 run
Defense, pro-rated and combined = -0.25
Positional adjustment = -2
Total value: -1.25 runs above (below) average.
But, the other factor is who he'll be replacing. Ryan Raburn looks to be a run or so below-average in a corner spot, and is projected to have a wOBA of .330 the rest of the way. Or, how about Jeff Larish? Larish's platooned wOBA the rest of the way is projected at .336.
Given that Huff's getting (I think) around $2 million in salary over the remainder of the season, the Tigers are paying more money for production they could've gotten from in-house replacement options. And, to boot, they give up a prospect who John Sickels graded a B- (round to a B and that's $5.5 million in value). Huff is a Type-A free agent, but would almost assuredly accept arbitration if offered, so the Tigers aren't likely to recoup the draft picks for him.
All in all, I quickly valued the deal on my own giving huge bonuses to Huff (like making him the everyday 3rd baseman with league average defense, him declining arbitration, etc etc), and still really didn't get a substantial value for Huff. It seems Dave Dombrowski's just shuffled the pieces around and dealt away a relief prospect for no real upgrade.