Friday, August 17, 2007

Detroit Tigers Call Up Cameron Maybin; Designate Craig Monroe for Assignment

After saying earlier this month that the team had no plans to call up phenom outfielder Cameron Maybin from the minor leagues when rosters expanded in September, the Detroit Tigers changed course Friday, calling up the 20-year-old center-fielder to the major leagues where he will be in uniform for tonight's game against the New York Yankees.

The Tigers have not announced whom Maybin in replacing on the 25-man major league roster, but the likely candidates are Craig Monroe (trade) or Marcus Thames (Disabled List) (Update: It's Monroe...See below) But with Maybin now on the big league club, you have to think he is here to play. While a number of the Detroit Tigers players are currently fighting the flu, and Thames may have re-injured his hamstring last night, Maybin is not here for depth purposes. Or he shouldn't be. Everyday at-bats are too valuable for a young player like Maybin and there are plenty of players in Toledo, like Timo Perez and Brent Clevlen, who could fill a depth role.

Maybin, on the other hand, needs to see as many at-bats as possible, and it looks as if those will now come at the major league level. Maybin, since being promoted to AA Erie earlier this month, has hit .400 with four home runs in five games. Not bad numbers for a 20-year-old. And while Maybin was not expected to join the major league club until mid-2008 at the earliest, perhaps now is the time for that experience to come. The Arizona Diamondbacks, for example, recently called up their hot-shot 19-year-old outfield prospect Justin Upton, and he produced immediate dividends at the major league level despite his young age. Maybin may be able to make a similar impact, especially with his speed.

Now, if Maybin is just here to sit on the bench, and play in spot roles due to illness or injury, calling him up is a mistake. He needs to continue to see pitching, at any level, major or minor leagues, every day. But, if he is here to play, he may just be here to stay, because with the talent and potential he has, there is no time like the present, and no place like Yankee Stadium, to show it off.

12:30 Update: My colleague Danny Knobler is now reporting that Maybin is replacing Craig Monroe on the roster. Monroe has been designated for assignment, giving the Tigers 10 days to trade him or offer him his unconditional release. While Monroe has struggled all season, few figured his Tigers career would end like this. But, with how well Marcus Thames has played, and Maybin's upside, this was likely Monroe's final season in Detroit regardless. The Tigers also sent down Omar Infante, in a bit of a surprise move, recalling shortstop Ramon Santiago. Santiago can't match Infante's bat, but he is a much better defensive shortstop, and you can't blame the Tigers for wanting to keep Ryan Raburn around as opposed to Infante.

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