The Pirates signed Craig Monroe to a minor league contract today, including an invite to spring training. Monroe hit .202/.274/.405 in 179 plate appearances with the Twins last year, good for a .291 wOBA. That is slightly below replacement level, although it was an improvement on his .273 wOBA in 2007. Including his slightly below average outfield defense, Monroe has been at or below replacement level in each of the past three years. With his 32nd birthday approaching, he is much more likely to decline than he is to improve.
I am not a fan of this signing at all. Sure, it is only a minor league deal. But there is no reason that we should even be considering bringing him north for the start of the season, even if it is as a backup. Monroe’s O-Swing% has increased each of the past four years, while his contact percentage and line drive percentage have steadily dropped. CHONE projects him to post a .315 wOBA in 2009, the most optimistic of the projections provided by FanGraphs. That might get him back to replacement level. If he makes the team and someone like Steve Pearce (projected .337 wOBA) goes to Indy, I am going to be upset. I hope it will not come to that.