So it looks like Craig Monroe is coming back...
To the AL Central. (Pardon the dramatic pause. I was trying to scare C-Mo's #1 fan, Mike McClary.)
After trying Rondell White in left field for two less-than-spectacular seasons (one-and-a-half, really), the Minnesota Twins are ready to give another former Detroit Tigers left fielder a chance to continue (revitalize?) his major league career. Maybe Timo Perez will soon also find his way to Minneapolis, and everyone can form a former Detroit Tigers left fielders support group.
For the second day in a row, the Chicago Cubs have shipped out an underperforming outfielder without receiving very much in return. Monroe has been traded to Minnesota in exchange for a player to be named later. In 23 games with the Cubs, C-Mo batted .204/.291/.347 with one home run, four RBI, and 13 strikeouts in 49 at-bats. Lou Piniella and Co. were so impressed by Monroe's performance that they left him off their post-season roster.
As Tigers fans know too painfully well, Monroe's 23-game stint in Chicago followed a brutal two-thirds of a season in Detroit (.222/.264/.373, 11 homers, 55 RBI), which left the Tigers with no other choice than to kick him to the curb and call up a 20-year-old who wasn't ready for the major leagues. Minnesota is obviously hoping that a return to the American League will help C-Mo re-discover the clutch bat that gave him near-cult status in 2006.
Unfortunately for the Twins, that season also helped Monroe cash in a $4.8 million salary, and if he wins a similar paycheck through arbitration, they'll be paying a lot of money for the right-hand part of a left field platoon. And as Matt Wallace pointed out to me via IM, the Twins might also be hoping that bringing in Monroe could help persuade Torii Hunter to stay in Minnesota. The two of them are buddies who work together in the off-season, and Tigers fans might remember Monroe soliciting advice from Hunter when it looked like he might be playing some center field in Detroit.
Could the Tigers' former slugger come back to haunt them in divisional play next season? Well, he'd have to start making contact with the baseball first, wouldn't he? Maybe the Twins will harbor the same fears, with Jacque Jones returning to the Metrodome in a Detroit uniform. Re-discovering his power stroke would certainly help.
UPDATE: TwinsGeek has a "slightly familiar queasy feeling" about the deal.