It appears that Andruw Jones will be leaving the Dodgers within the next few weeks. Given Jones’s affinity for Atlanta and manager Bobby Cox, and Atlanta’s need for outfield help, a reunion seems possible. While it all comes down to what the Braves have to give up to acquire Jones, I think that Andruw is risk worth taking.
There is no denying that Jones was bad last season—a line of .158/.256/.249 is about as bad as you can get. This was preceded by a poor 2007 performance of .222/.311/.413. Is Andruw Jones even worth the league minimum? I think so.
I still believe that Andruw’s 2007 was largely a product of back luck, and that he should rebound. The table below lists Andruw’s performance in several areas from 2004–2006 and 2007–2008. The former years are good years, while the latter two are not.
Year AVG OBP SLG Iso K rate BB rate +/- 2004 0.261 0.345 0.488 0.227 22.76% 10.99% ? 2005 0.263 0.347 0.575 0.312 16.67% 9.52% ? 2006 0.262 0.363 0.531 0.269 18.98% 12.26% +27 Mean 0.262 0.352 0.531 0.269 19.47% 10.92% +16 2007 0.222 0.311 0.413 0.191 20.94% 10.62% +22 2008 0.158 0.256 0.249 0.091 31.93% 11.34% -4
Though 2007 was not up to Andruw’s previous level, it was still a reasonable fluctuation below his typical performance. Jones’s average was way down (the most variable hitting metric), and that explained a good bit of his decline in OBP and SLG. His isolated power was down too, but .190 is respectable. His defense (as measured by John Dewan’s Plus/Minus) was a few plays above his average over his previous three seasons. It was a good bet that Jones would be a decent player who would outperform his 2007. The Dodgers apparently agreed as they offered him a two-year, $36 million deal.
Then 2008 happened. It is easy to view 2008 as a continuation of 2007; but, Jones didn’t continue to decline, he collapsed. This wasn’t aging, Jones went from being an elite baseball player to being below major-league caliber. Even his defense suffered. I believe that Jones’s knee injury—which forced him to spend a large portion of the season on the DL—combined with poor conditioning, adjusting to a new team, and even a little bad luck caused Jones’s problem. I believe that these are all correctable.
I have seen Jones compared to other guys who never panned out like Rubin Sierra—Jones’s “most similar” player from age 21–27. That is a worthy comp, but I think of Jones like Mike Lowell. He was a very good player who just looked awful during his age-31 season in Florida. The Marlins basically forced the Red Sox to take him in the Josh Beckett deal. At the time, I was certain Lowell was done, but it turns out that Lowell had some good baseball left in him.
I think there’s some good baseball left in Andruw Jones. At 32, he is on the downside of his career, but player career paths look more like Stone Mountain than the Matterhorn. If he’s healthy and motivated, I think he’ll be a serviceable major-league outfielder. Is he worth the full value of what the Dodgers owe him? I doubt it, but that should be irrelevant to his new team. If the Braves could get him for the $5 million he will be paid next season, I’d jump at it. Especially, considering that the Braves outfield needs some players. The 2008 Andruw might be the real thing; and if that is the case, you eat the contract and write it off as a risk that didn’t turn out. But if his problems are behind him, he’ll be a bargain.
UPDATE: Of course, this pops up on BTF right after I posted.
just a few lines to let you know that andruw jones left his team for good, and is not coming back, the reason is that his wife is sick, but the real reason for me is that the team asked him to leave. He was struggling here, only a .148 ave, slow in defense