The Breakdown: Christ Almighty, let there be more moves on the way

13 Nov
breakdown-pic.jpgIt has been four years since this blog was birthed (to the day, thank you very much — *grand bow to an empty party room*), and though I still don’t know what it has focused on, I do know one thing it hasn’t: the Minnesota Twins. Mentions have been rare, no doubt about that.

Which seems odd, because I’m a dyed-in-the-wool superfan of both the Twins and the sport they play. But the fact is, there are already so many quality resources devoted to Twins coverage, I’ve never really felt the need to chime in.

But I’ve decided that that’s about to change. Starting today, and continuing for the unforeseen future (or, as you regular readers can attest, possibly never again) I’ve decided to add my two pennies to all news Twins-related.

Subject #1: the trade for Craig Keystone Monroe.

First off, let me be the first – that’s not true, actually probably closer to the last – to mention how bummed I am that this even qualifies as big news in the Twins community. Monroe is at best a 4th outfielder on any team, yet with the relative inactivity of the hometown nine management in recent years, this does, sadly, count as “news.” So let’s review.

Monroe is a free-swinging power hitter with a penchant for strikeouts and apparent dislike for walks. He had a few good seasons for the Detroit Tigers (’04-’06) but struggled mightily in ’07. Nevertheless, at 30 he’s probably not considered over-the-hill just yet, and if you can forgive one poor season in light of other, relatively better ones (I can), he’s not absolutely worthless. Not in the least.

In fact, if you consider him to be a potential platoon player alongside Jason Kubel in left field (and you should), the pick-up of Monroe has a decent amount of upside. A quick review of the right-handed/left-handed splits of both players:

MONROE (’05-’07): .813 OPS vs. lhp / .714 vs. rhp

KUBEL (’07): .666 vs. lhp / .810 vs rhp

Not bad for a platoon situation. Used correctly, you’d be looking at a combined OPS in the low .800s. A few players in 2007 who put up a similar OPS: Bobby Abreu, Jose Guillen, J.D. Drew and Jermaine Dye. Which is fairly promising company (and actually a bit higher than Michael Cuddyer’s .790).

Now, the three big cons.

1. No one knows how Monroe is going to perform here. It’s entirely reasonable to think a decent hitter can return to form after a one-season slide, but after being burned by free agent busts RonDL White and Jeff Cirillo recently, I wouldn’t exactly count on hitting coach Joe Vavra as some sort of miracle-worker. Monroe ain’t no sure thing.

2. Ron Gardenhire probably can’t even spell “platoon,” let alone enact an effective one. While Monroe could likely be an asset while facing southpaw-only pitching on a team in dire need of a few long balls, chances are Gardenhire will overuse Monroe (due to his man-love of veterans and inability to read any statistic beyond batting average and his make-believe stat called “grit” or some such other bullshit that allows him to justify Nick Punto’s presence in the lineup) and instead put him in situations where he’ll likely fail. Namely: in the lineup against righties, and in a spot in the batting order where his high strikeout penchant will hurt him.

3. No matter if he performs well or not, Craig Monroe is not the answer. He isn’t the answer to our power struggles (yes, I use “our” from time to time) and he isn’t the answer to our gaping hole in the middle of the order. Monroe has potential to be a decent low-risk, occasional-use signing, but not as The Man. And knowing all too well the white-knuckled purse-string clutching from Old Man Pohlad, who knows if they’ve got any big moves planned.

***

This concludes my inaugural, hardly scientific analysis on the Twins’ first significant move in shaping the roster for the 2008 squad. If Monroe can perform up to his presumed ability, and if Gardenhire learns how to use him effectively, and if there are bigger moves on the horizon, I’m on board.

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