Thursday, August 23, 2007

Craig Monroe joins the mix

For the most part the young Cub players that Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry have called upon all year have produced. Still, when you head down the stretch run in the midst of a close division race it is nice to have veteran players who have won elsewhere. Back in 2003, Jim Hendry made a move after the July 31st deadline that brought first baseman Randall Simon to the Cubs. In August 1998 the Cubs picked up Gary Gaetti after he had been released by the Cardinals. During August 1989 Cub General Manager Jim Frey added third baseman Luis Salazar to the Cubs playoff run. Each of these deals at the time didn't seem like much. Each one of these players contributed to the Cubs making the postseason.

Today Jim Hendry made a move that he hopes will do the same as the moves listed above. Hendry added veteran outfielder Craig Monroe, who was DFA'd earlier this week by the Detroit Tigers. The 30 year old Monroe is an outfielder who is not even one year removed from a season that saw him hit 28 homeruns with 92 RBi for the AL Pennant winning Tigers. This year the slumping Monroe lost his starting leftfield spot to Marcus Thames:

The 30-year-old Monroe, who had lost his starting job in left field to Marcus Thames, was hitting only .222 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs in 99 games.

Like several teammates, Monroe had recently been sidelined because of the flu. The Tigers have 10 days to trade, release or send him outright to the minors.

"He had a lot of big moments for us," Dombrowski said. "Craig has scuffled a little bit over the last couple of months. I think probably for him a change of scenery will be beneficial at this time. That's why it's with mixed emotions, because we like Craig and what he did for us."

Monroe batted .255 with 28 homers and 92 RBIs last year, then tied a franchise record by hitting five home runs in the postseason. He also tied for second among AL outfielders with 12 assists.

Monroe signed a one-year contract for $4,775,000 in the offseason, getting a raise from $2.8 million.

So Monroe comes to the Cubs and the expectations for him are pretty mild. He's gonna be asked to hit lefthanded pitching. Here's what Hendry and Piniella have to say:

"I think it gives us a good balance,'' Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "It was just one of those situations where you couldn't pass up a guy who has already been there and helped lead a club to the postseason. We've had our ups and downs against lefties. It gives Lou some options here that we didn't have before by just adding one good batter against left-handed pitching.''

Monroe is hitting. 302 with five homers and 22 RBIs in 102 at-bats against lefties. The NL Central-leading Cubs are just 12-19 against lefties and are batting 20 points lower as a team than against right-handers.

Monroe is versatile, too, having played all three outfield positions.

"The teams that we're playing here all have left-handed starters in their rotation,'' Piniella said. "He's a valuable addition. He gives us more experience. This guy has been in postseason, hit five home runs last year in the postseason, played in the World Series. It's a good move by Jim to get us that bat.''

Housekeeping note: The comments are ALIVE again.

I'd like to apologie to all of you for the action that I took earlier in the week. The reasons speak for themselves. Hindsight is 20/20, I know I overreacted when I started moderating all of the comments. I apologie to those of you who come here to comment regularly. I also apologie to you who just stop by to read the comments. I am trying to correct the problems we had and make this a better place to comment. Due to what has happened, occassionally there will be comments deleted. No rules or any of that stuff, but as gm suggested earlier this week the crappy/unpopular blog will not be a 'champion of free speech' nor will it be a church.

On behalf of the crappy/unpopular, I'd like to thank any and all who stop by. Good comments sections make tiny blogs like this go. So thank you to all of you who take the time to comment. Sorry for the inconvenience from earlier this week. Now back to the irregular unscheduled blog...

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