What will it take for the Tigers to demote Colt Keith after Jackson Holliday's demotion?

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers - Game 2
Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers - Game 2 / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

When the Detroit Tigers signed Colt Keith to a six-year, $28.6 million contract extension before he made his MLB debut, they did something that this front office rarely does: they took a leap of faith. Whether or not you agree with their approach, the front office under Chris Ilitch and Scott Harris likes to stick to what they know (and what they know is, typically, not to spend much money).

The news that Keith was signed was met with pleasant surprise and general positivity, because at least the Tigers were taking a risk on a prospect that gave them good reason to believe he'd be successful at the major league level and showing fans that they had something like a long-term plan in the works.

Keith hit .306/.380/.552 in more than 120 games last season through Double- and Triple-A, with hit and power projections that boded well for a Tigers team that has seriously lacked pop.

However, the first full month of the season wasn't kind to Keith. He hit .154 with a .387 OPS through April, and .045 with .170 OPS over his last seven games of the month.

In Baltimore, another highly touted prospect in Jackson Holliday was sent back down to the minors on April 26, after his line in 10 major league games looked awfully similar to Keith's over his last seven (.059 AVG, .170 OPS for Holliday).

Might the Tigers decide that they've seen enough from Keith in majors for the time being? Should a demotion be in the cards?

Is a demotion on the way for Colt Keith if he can't shape up for the Tigers?

There's a lot more money attached to Keith already than there is to Holliday, which is probably (definitely) a factor in the Tigers' hesitance to send him back to Triple-A, even if he's giving them close to every indication that he might need a break the stakes and the pressure in the majors.

If they sent Keith down, the Tigers would surely take a lot of flack from some fans on Twitter who would call Keith a bust, but aren't they already sort of doing that? There's a lot riding on him, yes, but he's also only 22 and never really had a grace period to start.

Fans probably won't be kind, but it should be more important that the Tigers give him room to breathe, grow, and get better, rather than being concerned about how it might look to send him back down for a short stint to get his mojo back.

Now that he's almost 30 games in, Keith needs to get hot soon in order to justify the Tigers' stubbornness in keeping him in the majors.