Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Twins Killer Becomes a Twin

The Twins made their first offseason addition yesterday, acquiring outfielder Craig Monroe from the Cubs for a player to be named later. Monroe is a notorious Twins killer, having posted a career line of .322/.356/.544 against Minnesota during his years with Detroit which dwarfs his overall line of .256/.303/.446.

While it's not known yet what the Twins will give up for Monroe, it seems clear that it won't be much of anything. The Cubs were almost certain to non-tender the arbitration-eligible Monroe, so they had no leverage to command anything in a trade.

In that respect, this is a low-risk deal. The big problem here is money. Monroe had a brutally bad 2007 campaign, hitting .219/.268/.370 while making $4.8 million. Entering his final year of arbitration, Monroe would likely make a similar amount next season. Speculation is that the Twins will either try to negotiate a deal that pays him less, or they will non-tender him. This much is certain: despite the fact that they will likely have some money to burn this offseason, the Twins can't afford to pay a fourth outfielder $5 million, nor can they afford to depend on Monroe in any sort of significant capacity if they are serious about fielding a more competitive team in 2008.

The acquisition of Monroe has garnered some Tony Batista comparisons, which is frightening yet understandable:

Craig Monroe (career): .256/.303/.446
Tony Batista (career): .251/.293/.453

There are, however, a number of disinct differences between the two situations. When the Twins signed Batista in December 2005, he was a 32-year-old who was three years removed from any type of real productivity in the major leagues (in fact, he had spent the past season playing in Japan, and not particularly well). Monroe is 30, and while his 2007 campaign was abominable, he had been a steadily solid player for the four seasons prior. Between 2003 and 2006, Monroe's home run totals were 23, 18, 20 and 28. His slugging percentages were .449, .488, .446 and .482.

Monroe does not generally hit for a good average and his on-base skills are obviously lacking, but his power is enticing. His .446 career slugging percentage is no great shakes, but had he posted it for the Twins last year he would have ranked fourth on the team in that category. (Of course, one of those who'd have been above him, Torii Hunter, is on his way out the door.) Monroe has hit 20 or more home runs three times in his five-year career; with Hunter and Rondell White gone the Twins have a total of four 20+ homer seasons among players on their rosters (three of which belong to Justin Morneau).

When Bill Smith made his first move as a general manager by dropping a few lesser players on the team's roster, including Lew Ford, I said that the key would be finding superior players to replace the ones that were dropped. Monroe qualifies as a significant offensive upgrade over the departed Ford as a fourth outfielder. This acquisition could be a good one, but it depends on several conditions. If the Twins plan to pay Monroe anywhere close to $5 million or plan on making him a regular player at any position, then this deal could be a disaster of Batista-esque proportions. If they can get his price down to a couple million bucks while using him as a backup and perhaps a platoon-type at DH or left field, he could be a useful player and a much-needed power threat off the bench.

10 comments:

packers_irish_twins_fan said...

hey nick is it possible that this is an attempt to bring hunter back? Would t-nuts conceivably accept a hometown discount if it meant playing next to a long-time friend and fellow black mlb player (something torii has always made a big deal about)?

If not then this move may mark the start of another frustrating offseason in which we try to get significant production out of mediocre players that other teams have given up on. But if this move brings hunter back for a reasonable price tag, then any power monroe adds off the bench is a bonus in my mind

Nick N. said...

I've heard that theory, but I doubt Hunter would sign for significantly less solely because the Twins added a player he likes. Whether or not that played into the Twins' mindset when they traded for Monroe, I can't say.

Anonymous said...

Nick,
You and Aaron said almost the exact same thing. I read his first then yours. It was kind of funny.

J. Lichty said...

The friends Hunter cares about right now are green and not black.

Also, I think signing Santana to an extension would go further than signing Craig Monroe.

Nick N. said...

You and Aaron said almost the exact same thing. I read his first then yours. It was kind of funny.

Great minds think alike? Or else he's plagiarizing me. The bastard.

The friends Hunter cares about right now are green and not black.

Nice.

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brukbowr said...

greetings twin fans,
i need some info from your side of the spectrum(im a die hard met fan). recently ive heard rumors on the net about a posiible trade between our respective teams. and no not for santana, but for garza. i am completely in the dark about this kid and how good he is or isnt and if this trade is just a met fans fantasy. either way i need an opinion from someone who isnt biased and doesnt bleed orange and blue. the purposed trade was carlos gomez and a "b" prospect for garza. is this fair? yes or no what would make it fair? and please dont say david wright, hes not goin n e where even for santana. so fellas what do ya say

Nick N. said...

Hello sir,
Garza is an excellent prospect who won't be moved unless it is for a premium return. The Twins value him very highly. Gomez is a nice young prospect with a lot of tools, but I'm not sure I'd trade a top pitching prospect like Garza for him a and a "B prospect."

To get Garza, I'd think the Mets would have to include a Lastings Milledge or a Fernando Martinez. Understand that the Twins are none too eager to part with Garza and wouldn't do so unless they were overwhelmed with an offer.

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