According to reports out of Disney World, Craig Monroe is the Tiger du jour in terms of trade rumors. Jerry Crasnick first mentioned Monroe’s name on Monday. Scott Miller indicated the Dodgers might be interested in Craig. Amy Nelson chimed in and reported that the Orioles asked about Monroe and that the Tigers asked about Nick Markakis.
Jason Beck got in touch with David Dombrowski and DD confirmed that the Orioles initiated discussions this morning, but he wouldn’t confirm it was about Craig Monroe. Basically the Tigers are listening but it sounds like they are pretty much set.
Here’s how I see it. The Tigers probably should trade Craig Monroe. I say this as a fan of Monroe. He’s a decent player, a really likable guy, and from all accounts a great teammate. I don’t really want to see him go anywhere, but he and Thames are duplicative. Marcus Thames won’t be a free agent until 2011 where has Monroe is a free agent in 2009. Both players are the same age but Thames has posted slightly better OBP and SLG numbers (316/491 vs 310/461) than Monroe, granted in a much less playing time. Monroe is faster and appears to have a better arm and cover more ground in the outfield than Thames. However, according to the Probablistic Model of Range Monroe was slightly below average while Thames was marginally above average. I’d say it’s close enough to be a push defensively.
So really, the two players are very much a like. If one of them were left handed the Tigers would have a nifty platoon. But with the addition of Sheffield there just isn’t room for both on the roster. As an arbitration eligible player with decent counting stats and some dramatic homers, Monroe will probably get in the neighborhood of $4 million (give or take a half million). Thames meanwhile will probably make $600,000 or so.
I know the Tigers have said their lineup is set, and that Dombrowski admitted that there isn’t a lot of room for Thames. But if they are looking to move one of their left fielders, it really should probably be Monroe.
Shelton in the plans
Probably the best news is that the Tigers aren’t looking to give away Shelton. I’ve stated before my preferences for Shelton over Casey, and even outside of that if Casey were to get injured (not such a leap) the Tigers would be very much lacking at first base. Without Shelton it would either be a Perez/Santiago platoon or a rapidly promoted Jeff Larish trying to fill his lineup spot.