Hey look: Andruw Jones is still available and the Braves could use a right-handed bat and an extra outfielder.
OK, all together now: Schultz, you’re an idiot.
Truth is, I’m not pushing for the Braves to sign Jones. But I’m not completely dismissing the idea, either.
Have to admit, I’m only bringing this up because I’ve received a few emails in the last couple of days from readers asking me about Jones, and our resident baseball man David O’Brien tells me he also has been fielding questions from fans.
First, let’s address the negative: Jones will be 34 in April, obviously isn’t the Gold Glove center fielder he used to be with the Braves and often stirs up gale force winds when he’s at the plate.
Now here’s the positive: Playing for the Chicago White Sox last season, his third team in three years, Jones hit 19 home runs in 328 plate appearances. That roughly translates to a 40-home run season as a regular (which he’s not). Jones even walked 45 times, which gave him an on-base percentage of .341 (his best since 2006) and hit .230 (still anemic but better than the previous three years: .222, .158, .214)
The Braves could use a right-handed bat off the bench. For that matter, their outfield still makes me nervous. Martin Prado will be the everyday left fielder, unless Chipper Jones has a setback and can’t start at third. Jason Heyward is in right. Then there’s the great black hole in center: Nate McLouth. Jordan Schafer also will be camp in spring training, hoping to belatedly jump start his career. Eric Hinske and Joe Mather can fill in.
Is that good enough?
There are reports the New York Yankees are interested in Jones. The major league minimum salary is $414,000 next season, though Jones presumably would sign for something in the $750,000 to $1 million range.
There’s nothing to indicate the Braves are interested. The question is whether it’s risky to bring back a player who once was a star in that city and now is in his final days. But if Jones is desperate enough to accept a reduced role, I don’t see that as an issue. It’s something to think about, anyway.
By Jeff Schultz