Twins acquired outfielder Craig Monroe from the Cubs for a player to be named.
Leave it to the Twins to find a guy with a worse OBP than anyone else on the market. We hope this is being done with the idea of non-tendering Monroe if he’s not willing to accept less than the $4.8 million he made last season. The Cubs were going to non-tender him before the Twins decided it was worth giving up a low-level prospect to acquire his rights. Monroe, who turns 31 in February, hit .219/.268/.370 in 392 at-bats for the Tigers and Cubs last season. He’s a career .256/.303/.446 hitter. He’d be a nice guy to have around as a left fielder against lefties and a backup against right-handers, but the Twins can’t afford to pay a guy $5 million to play less than regularly and there were better options for that kind of money. We wonder just how much this has to do with his career .322/.356/.544 line versus Minnesota. The Royals are the only team he’s been better against.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Twins will owe the Cubs a player to be named later from Tuesday’s trade only if they sign Craig Monroe for less than he made in 2008.
The Twins can negotiate with Monroe until December 1, which is the deadline for non-tendering players. Monroe is stretched as an everyday player and would be overpriced at his 2007 salary of $4.8 million, but could be an asset off the bench at less than that.
Minneapolis Star Tribune via Rotoworld.com
There are varying schools of thought on this deal for the Twins. Pessimistic fans see this as the big move of the offseason, and that the Twins will to little to nothing else on the market, via trade or free agency. So what positives, in addition to the negatives, are there to draw from this move?
Positives: Monroe has a career OPS v. LHP of .814, and a huge split disparity from 2007 (.555/.805 OPS v. RH/LH), and the guy he’d likely platoon with, Jason Kubel, struggles with lefties, posting a career .675 mark. If Monroe is only called on as a LF or DH against lefties, and the occasional start here or there, this probably isn’t so bad. Also, he has a career OPS of .871 in 125 AB at the Metrodome. It is important to note, however, that those numbers were posted against Twins pitching. Another positive is if the Twins do not sign Monroe for less than the $4.8 million he made last year, the Twins are not obligated to give the Cubs the PTBNL. In addition, he’d be a semblance of a power bat to a bench that had no discernible power to speak of last season. Yes, even slugging .400 would make him an improvement to our current bench.
Negatives: Well we don’t have to search far for negatives on this guy. How about a .638 OPS? How about that righties absolutely beat him into submission, limiting him to a .555 OPS? How about that his OPS+ numbers have declined consistently the last 4 seasons, from 116, to 104, to 99, to a paltry 65 last year? He’s not a defensive wiz, and isn’t a sure bet to even return to .700 OPS status. That said, if the Twins can negotiate a much smaller deal, perhaps non-tendering him and signing him to a 1 year incentive laden deal worth a base salary of around 2-3 million, then it won’t be such a huge loss.
Now, on the Tony Clark front:
The Twins are showing interest in free agent first baseman Tony Clark.
Low OBP? Check. Over 30? Check. Likely to sign for no more than 0.1 percent of Carl Pohlad’s net worth? Check. Looks like the perfect Twin to us. If inked, he could DH against some righties, with Craig Monroe hopefully taking a seat.
Minneapolis Star Tribune via Rotoworld.com
Well isn’t Rotoworld pretty sassy lately? They also used the Twins in a jab about John Ford-Griffin lately, leading me to believe that Jim Souhan has taken on a gig part time at Rotoworld.com in case the Strib starts cutting jobs again.
But I digress; Clark probably could be a decent gamble for the Twins. Even despite his .310 OBP, he managed a rather nice .821 OPS, thanks to an above average .511 SLG. He has a career OPS v. LHP of .841, so he could spell Justin Morneau from time to time at 1B against tough lefties, or he could be used as part of a platoon at DH. That said, maybe Gardenhire will learn what platoon means in the near future, because otherwise none of these moves will matter.
As long as Clark and Monroe are more the ‘after party’ rather than the ‘headliners’ (obscure Outkast reference), this still can shape up to be a solid offseason. As the Twins have shown in recent years, it’s not a bad idea to have solid bench options, either. Here’s to hoping they follow through.
Next Time: The previously promised Johan Santana and 2B article.
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