Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
I love Craig Monroe, I really do. Of all the guys on the team over the past few years, he's the one position player who has consistently met expectations and produced for the team. But here's the thing; last year his OPS was just .768. That's below average anywhere on the diamond, let alone in left field, where a .446 slugging percentage just isn't going to get it done. Now, the Tigers have other positions that are higher priority, so if they are forced to use up all of their available resources to solidify the pitching staff, Monroe is certainly a servicable player. However, the ideal situation would be having Monroe on the bench as a fourth outfielder, as he's adequate at all three positions defensively, and can help spell Magglio Ordonez in right. He'll turn 29 in February, meaning he's probably as good as he's going to be, and at this juncture, that's just not good enough for a playoff contender.
Mark Anderson, Minor League Editor
As the team currently stands, Monroe is the obvious choice to be the teams starting left fielder in 2006. While his production has been solid the last two seasons, Monroe is not a player that should be above an upgrade as well look to improve the club. Average left fielders are pretty common, and Monroe, despite his RBI numbers, is merely an average outfielder at his best. If the Tigers have the opportunity to bring in an upgrade in left, they should jump on it. With a better player taking the majority in time in left, Monroe would instantly become one of baseball's best fourth outfielders, while also allowing Magglio Ordonez more time in the DH slot to protect his health. Overall, Monroe has earned the job on the present roster, but as with most on the roster, upgrades should be sought if they appear available.
Jason Avery, Amateur Baseball Editor
This is a tough question, because Monroe had solid numbers last year, but I still think he is a great fourth outfielder. His numbers against right-handed pitching have never been great, but he has done a solid job against lefties, so if the Tigers were able to get a solid left-handed bat to play out there, he could be even more effective. Because he can adequately handle all three spots in the outfield defensively, I think it enhances his value, although he is more suited to a corner. If the Tigers started next year with Monroe penciled as the starter, it wouldn't be the worst thing to happen, but I do think he could be exposed more if he doesn't exercise more patience at the plate against right-handed pitching.
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