Andruw Jones has been released by the Dodgers. That ill-fated project has ended and Los Angeles is lighter in the pocket for their troubles.
What is Jones worth now? A multi year pact? Hardly. A single year contract in the neighborhood of 10 million? Let’s hope not.
He’s worth exactly two things; a one year contract and an attitude adjustment. From 1997 through 2006 Andruw Jones put up exceptional numbers and compiled nine gold gloves. He stayed away from the DL, stole a number of bases and led the league in homeruns and rbis once. More or less he enjoyed a decade of dominance in line with some of baseball’s greats.
In 2008 Andruw showed up to Spring Training with lingering injuries, overweight and without the zeal that allows a player to hit, hit for power, run, field, throw and steal bases at record paces that had characterized his early career. What happened?
Let’s take a look at another wonderful career that fizzled out a little too early. From 1989 to 2001 Roberto Alomar was the overall best offensive and defensive second basemen in baseball. He did everything you need to do to be great and because of his great run will be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible next year. Aside from a little incident with an umpire Alomar was often noted for his love for the game and boundless enthusiasm. Yet like Jones, who has shown decline at the youthful age of 31, Alomar was virtually finished at 33. How do these stars go south so quickly and at such a young age?
For Jones a big part of it has been his physical conditioning. He needs to stay on top of that if he is to remain in professional baseball. Alomar, however, was always in respectable shape. But what seems common amongst the two is that they lost the love for baseball in their early thirties. Alomar, the jovial young second basemen, became cranky in his early thirties. Andruw Jones lacks effort and drive.
Jones, however, will be given the chance to turn it around. Teams such as the Braves, the Giants or even the Yankees should think about giving Andruw a chance. Comeback player of the year? Let’s hope so.
In response to a recent Ken Rosenthal article I’ve been reflecting on a few issues.
Despite the recent hirings in Toronto, including Gillick era manager Cito Gaston and president and CEO Paul Beeston the Blue Jays will now add a second year to their 1993 World Series Champion opponent Phillies’ 14 year playoff drought. Sure, the Phillies play in the weaker National League, but I have been hard pressed to find reasons why the Blue Jays have been so long without a playoff birth in an era when the Rays, Twins and A’s have all had significant playoff runs despite low payrolls and poor attendance.
I have, after much thought, settled on three hypothesis:
Middling: The Jays, after thoughts in the American League East, have done just enough to place in the middle of their division for a number of years. Accordingly they have done just enough to blow their chances at excellent draft picks and have kept just enough high caliber players to stop us from entering total rebuilding phases. Yes, I will at some point argue for why even fellows like Halladay and Wells are tradeable.
Front Office Hirings: Gord Ash was a bust. Riccardi and the eight year plan are intolerable. I can’t wait to see what Godfrey’s replacement can do.
Post-Gillick drought: When a GM wagers so much on building a championship team in a small/middle market the aftermath can be troublesome. After his stints in Toronto, Baltimore and Seattle Gillick left his teams with a lot of hope, a diminished farm system and a slew of soon-to-be unaffordable big name players. I am not upset with Gillick, but he understands the cost of a champion, whether or not he sticks around for the residual effects.
Kudos if you picked up the song reference – I’ve got a special place in my heart for the Talking Heads.