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Tigers need to bring up Justin-Henry Malloy today, DFA Jonathan Schoop

When the Detroit Tigers traded Joe Jimenez to the Atlanta Braves this past offseason, the return was a 23-year-old third baseman/outfielder Justin-Henry Malloy. A right-handed hitter, Malloy made a solid showing in the Braves organization last year, hitting .289 with 17 homers and 81 RBIs in 478 at-bats across three different levels.

Because Malloy was only in Triple-A for eight games last season, the thinking was that it was too soon to hand him a job on the Major League roster. He would have to prove himself at that level before the Tigers could reasonably consider bringing him up.

Fine. It’s not too late anymore.

Malloy is a One-Man Wrecking Crew

Malloy has been a one-man wrecking machine for the Toledo Mud Hens in April, hitting .379 with two homers and 12 RBI. Not only that, but Malloy already has 19 walks this season, which combines with his batting average to give him an on-base percentage of .544.

No one on the Tigers’ Major League roster has even 10 walks this season, let alone 19.

Malloy needs to be brought up to the Tigers. Today. He should be the starting third baseman tomorrow in Milwaukee.

Cons and Counters to the Cons

I suppose one could make three arguments against this move.

The first would be that he has shown limited power this season, with only five extra-base hits among his 22 hits overall. My rejoinder to that argument is that he showed last year there is power in his bat, and he has time to develop it at the major-league level while he’s getting on base at a .544 clip.

The second would be that his defense at third base remains a work in progress, and the Tigers’ outfield is a little crowded right now. My rejoinder to that is that the Tigers can work with him on his defense while they enjoy the benefits of his hitting. A team that is still struggling to score runs as mightily as the Tigers are cannot shut the door on players with Malloy’s offensive abilities because they’re concerned about an error here and there at third base. And there’s no one holding down the position so skillfully right now that the Tigers lose something by making room for Malloy.

The third argument against calling up Malloy would be the simple supposition that this is an impressive hot streak but not enough to prove he’s ready for the majors. That is certainly possible. But the Tigers have had a far-too-cautious instinct about deciding when prospects are ready for the challenge of performing in the majors. They need to break themselves of that inclination. If Malloy doesn’t perform well, he can always be sent back down.

For now, he needs to come up and he needs to start at third base every day. The Tigers need to give him a chance to get in a rhythm, overcome the butterflies of his first time in the majors and show that he can contribute as a part of a more productive Tiger lineup. It would be a mistake to bring him up and “be cautious with him” by only playing him once or twice weekly. Bring him up and play him every day.

Farewell Jonathan Schoop

Detroit Tigers Jonathan Schoop

As for the corresponding move to make room for him, this is sad but also obvious: it’s time to designate Jonathan Schoop for assignment and cut ties with him.

Schoop has not gotten any better than the sad shell of his former self that we saw last season. He is hitting .185 with no home runs and no RBIs. But wait! Batting average doesn’t always tell the story! Do you want to know Schoop’s slugging percentage? I’ll be happy to tell you. It’s .185, exactly the same as his batting average.

Schoop’s entire contribution to the Tigers’ offense this season has consisted of five singles and four walks. Somehow he’s managed to score two runs and he hasn’t driven in any.

This is the final season of Schoop’s $7.5 million-a-year contract. It is certainly not optimal to eat $7.5 million, but it’s not as bad as blocking a promising prospect while continuing to run a guy out there who’s contributing absolutely nothing.

Malloy can play third base. Nick Maton can share second base with whoever else A.J. Hinch wants to put over there I guess.

But there is no reason to wait on this. The last time the Tigers had a player tearing it up like this in Toledo in April, it was J.D. Martinez in 2014. Bringing him up was one of the best moves they made the entire decade. Malloy may not produce the same benefits, but he’s doing nothing at Toledo right now to suggest he can’t.

And there’s nothing the Tigers are clinging to that’s better. Bring him up now.

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Dan Calabrese
Dan Calabresehttp://www.northstarwriters.com
Dan is a lifelong Tiger fan whose earliest memories were of Verne Ruhle in the starting rotation and Ben Oglivie in left field. He has been a professional writer since 1984, including work for the Detroit News, Macomb Daily, DBusiness and a variety of trucking/supply chain/logistics publications. Today, in addition to writing about the Tigers, Dan and his family own and operate North Star Marketing Content, which provides contract writing services to corporate clients, magazines and advertising/PR agencies throughout the country. He lives in Royal Oak, where he grew up, and attends around 50 Tiger games a year. Dan and his wife Angie have been married since 1997, and their commanding officer in life is Jesus Christ.

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