Friday, January 2, 2009

The Steal of the Offseason

Yesterday the Dodgers and Andruw Jones agreed a re-structuring of his contract. He is now only owed 5 million dollars for the one year left on his contract (the Dodgers will defer the rest of the money). The Dodgers are desperate to trade him and the purpose of this is to make him more attractive to potential trade partners. He had one of the worst offensive seasons last year in the history of the game and missed half the year with knee problems. However, he has the potential to be a huge bargain for a team that needs a centerfielder.

In 2008 he went into the year overweight and generally unmotivated to do well. He also had the aforementioned knee problems which made him miss half the year. I`m not making excuses but going into 2009 he`ll be headed into a contract year and if he does poorly he might be out of baseball. Lets write off 2008 as a fluke that won't be repeated for a minute.

Jones has always been one of the best defenders in baseball and he`s still a very good centerfielder which is an underrated skill. Before 2008 their were signs of decline but he could still be counted on to save about 20 runs (2 wins) a year more than the average player acording to UZR. In comparison, Melky was exactly 0. In 2008 Jones suddenly dropped to about 12 runs (1 win). I`m going to write this off as a result of his being out of shape, Joe Girardi and the hope of another contract will take care of that.

His hitting woes are harder to just ignore though. He posted a .301 EQA in back to back years in 2006 and 2005 then he suddenly fell of a cliff. In 2007 it was .257 which is fine with his glove but last year it collapsed to .177. Could a change in scenery and a new, tougher, manager help re-start Jones' career and get him back to 2007 levels with the bat?

I wouldn't take on the five million dollar contract but if nobody else bites and the Dodgers decide to release him (which they're considering) he`d be a good low-risk, high reward signing. Fangraphs has him worth 24 million dollars in 2006 and 15 million in 2007. Its tough to have no hope at all that he can get close to his 2007 levels and both Bill James and Marcel project him to do it. With his glove we don't need him to hit 50 homers, we just need mediocrity. If he`s not working to get in shape or somebody decides to trade for him then forget about it but if he`s released and he seems like he still wants to play baseball, then the Yanks would be fools not to take a look at him. Just something to mull around with things slow in early January.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing this guy up. I refuse to believe their is nothing left in this guy