This has come up frequently in the comments so it’s time to put some numbers to it. How much is having Craig Monroe in the lineup hurting our team? In looking at today’s starting lineup, two things jumped out at me. Craig Monroe and Brandon Inge have a pretty low batting average compared to everyone else. Even Alexis Gomez is hitting around .280. Inge has an excuse because he’s out there just as much for his glove then anything. While his hitting has been below average, he already has 12 fielding runs above average. Last year, he had 13 total and he was a top five third baseman. So I can live with that.
From a corner outfielder, that’s an entirely different matter. Right now, Craig Monroe has a zero Batting Runs Above Replacement. Let that sink in for a minute. In 253 at bats, Monroe has hit about as good as you’d expect a decent AAA guy would hit if he were called up to fill in a spot. That’s not good so that’s one strike against Monroe.
He’s actually done okay with the glove. He has two fielding runs above average so he hasn’t hurt us there, but you also have to keep in mind who he’s taking at bats away from. Marcus Thames has played in 58 games and has 192 at bats. So there have been 27 games where he hasn’t even touched the field (or the plate). So he’s only played in 2/3 of the team’s games. With 21 batting runs above replacement so far this season, Thames could easily be up close 25 or 30 at his current pace. So if you take what Thames has lost because the team’s stuck with Monroe, you have about five to ten runs, or about one win.
The latest guy who’s been named in a Tiger trade rumor has been Sean Casey, and it sends a shiver up my spine. Yes, he’s a career .305 hitter, but he also grounds into a ton of double plays. 27 last year alone. He’s also been hurt this year and his last good season was 2004.
On the radio, a bigger deal was made about the fact that Leyland didn’t have Monroe bunt in the tenth after Carlos Guillen got to second on a stolen base then the botched hit and run attempt in the fifth. While I’m sure Jim Leyland’s reasoning was that he didn’t want Wilson to hit into a double play, I agree with the Dan and think it was a bad move. Vance Wilson is a career .250 hitter and a back up catcher and you can’t expect him to make contact consistently nor should you expect Chris Shelton to be able to run it out and get the stolen base. The net result was one run, which was the difference in the game.
The Tigers won today and they avoided the sweep. Now it’s on to Seattle for a three game set before the All Star game. Part of me doesn’t want Justin Verlander to win that final spot on the team because I think he’d be better off with the rest. As it stands, it looks like Francisco Liriano is in the driver’s seat right now.