Recent

0

Did Craig Monroe win a starting job yesterday?

I know it’s only Spring Training and the games and stats normally don’t mean anything, but Craig Monroe’s three homers against the Twins yesterday might have an impact on the 2009 Pirates’ season. That is, in the sense that it pretty much locked Monroe in for a spot on the major league roster.

Before you dismiss his homers as meaningless, consider that two of the three homers came against Scott Baker, who is coming off an 11-4 season with a 3.45 ERA for the Twins in 2008. I’m a big fan of Baker for fantasy purposes, so I’m not going to discount the homers that Monroe hit. The power displayed is not a surprise either.

In his career, Monroe has hit a homer every 23.32 at bats. That amounts to 24 homers in a 550 at bat season. In his four years of starting between 2003 and 2006 with the Detroit Tigers, Monroe hit for a .267/.312/.466 line with a homer every 22.25 ABs. Since then he has struggled, falling from an everyday starter to a guy fighting for a major league roster spot.

The struggles started in 2007 when he hit .222 with a homer every 31.18 at bats in 343 at bats for the Tigers. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs, where he was used in a reserve role in the final month and a half. Monroe hit .204 with one homer in 49 at bats for the Cubs.

In 2008 he was acquired by the Twins, but struggled again, hitting for a .202 average in 163 at bats. He did see his power return, with a homer every 20.38 at bats, but was released, with the Twins paying him $3.82 M for his services.

So far this Spring, Monroe is hitting .333 with six homers in 30 at bats. As I said, that should lock him in for a job on the major league roster, but what job? The Pirates have been searching for a right handed power hitting outfielder. Is Monroe this guy, and should he start over Nyjer Morgan?

First, let’s consider the big picture. Monroe isn’t necessarily in the long term plans of the Pirates, but neither is Morgan. Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata are heir to the throne for the final two outfield spots. Regardless of who starts (Morgan or Monroe), I doubt either will be starting at the end of the year, and I’m almost certain that the starting outfield by June 2010 will be McLouth/McCutchen/Tabata.

So making Monroe the starter doesn’t impact the future of the Pirates. Age also shouldn’t be a factor, as Monroe is 32, while Morgan is 28. The only question left is: will the 2003-2006 version of Monroe return?

In his time as a starter for the Tigers, Monroe hit .267/.312/.466, and had a Batting Average Per Balls in Play (BABIP) of .292. In 2007/2008 his numbers dropped to .214/.269/.380 with a BABIP of .261. Focusing in on the 2008 numbers, he hit for a .202/.274/.405 line with a .234 BABIP. The lower BABIP in the 07/08 seasons indicates that Monroe was a victim of bad luck, as the numbers were lower than his average from the 03-06 seasons.

In short, Monroe should be starting for the Pirates over Nyjer Morgan. The Pirates need a power hitter in the lineup more than they need Morgan to bat leadoff. With Monroe, the Pirates could stick Nate McLouth at leadoff and be fine. Neither Monroe or Morgan is in the long term plans for the Pirates, but Monroe gives a better chance for short term success, and might bring more in a trade down the line. Finally, if we chalk his 07/08 failures up to luck, Monroe is fully capable of putting up a .265/.315/.465 season with 25 homers, similar to his numbers between 2003 and 2006, making Monroe a steal for the Pirates.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Pirates still not giving Pearce an opportunity

Next Story »

Salazar Homers, Three Hits for Pearce & Bixler

  • The Jello Phone

    I don’t know if you saw it on TV, but apparently Monroe went to see Rangers’ hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo this offseason. He was able to correct a timing issue with his leg kick, so maybe that will make a big difference from the last couple of years. Could be a nice steal for a minor-league invite.

  • Tim Williams

    I didn’t see that. It’s certainly a better explanation than him just forgetting how to hit at age 30-31, after putting up decent numbers in the four previous years.

Latest Analysis

  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    1 day ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    2 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    3 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    5 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    6 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    2 weeks ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More