Laird lands an opportunity with Tigers
December, 8, 2008
By Eric Karabell | ESPN.com
The winter meetings got off to a rousing start Monday when ... Gerald Laird got traded from the Texas Rangers to the Detroit Tigers. OK, so it doesn't have quite the same pull as CC Sabathia or Manny Ramirez finding a new home, but hey, don't laugh at Laird, as he will play a role in plenty of fantasy baseball leagues in 2009.
Laird likely will be dismissed by many for his career .255 batting average and failure to reach double-digit home runs at any time in his career, which he's spent mostly as a backup with Texas. But he could be one of those emerging catcher bats ready to do a Kelly Shoppach and stun us all. Consider that Laird has never really gotten a chance at full-time duty before but should be Jim Leyland's opening day backstop and be in line for at least 450 plate appearances. Judging by his numbers in parts of six seasons, he wasn't a guy who feasted solely on lefty pitchers nor relied on a significant edge in his home ballpark. Laird has showed potential for power against right-handed pitching and had a higher on base percentage plus slugging percentage in road games for the past three seasons.