Jeff Baker's the name and utility is his game. The Cubs acquired Baker, formerly of the Colorado Rockies this morning in exchange for Alberto Alburquerque, who will be immediately traded to the Dodgers minor league affiliate for a Duff Man poster. Oh yeah!
In a corresponding move, the Cubs have designated Ryan Freel for assignment. No word whether or not Farney is checking Craigslist for job openings.
Baker has seen time at both corner infield and corner outfield positions, and might be best suited as a second baseman. Somewhere, Mark DeRosa fanboys just found themselves a new crush.
A quick glance over at his baseball-reference.com page makes me think he is a really poor man's DeRosa. Stats say Baker is a lefty masher with a career .902 OPS against southpaws in his career. Manager Lou Piniella might want to keep this guy away from righties, where he is a career .244 hitter with a yawn-inspiring OPS of .696.
I guess he's better than Ryan Freel, who OPSed .369 in 14 games as a Cub. To put that in perspective, Joe Mauer's batting average was .423 after his first 14 games this season.
This trade reeks of a high-risk, high-reward deal. It is hard to ignore Baker's .601 career OPS away from Coors Field and harder to justify acquiring a Rockies hitter, taking him out of that hitters paradise.
But I admit that I like his career slash stats in the second half. Tough to knock a guy who hits .284 with an .877 OPS in 246 second-half plate appearances.
Cubs Aquire Jeff Baker, DFA Ryan Freel [Yahoo! Sports and ESPN via MLB Trade Rumors]