Jones-ing for a real RF
This definitely shook the cobwebs off an otherwise turgid week of Cubs news, as the team announced the signing of bells-and-whistles FA Jacque Jones to a 3-year, $16 million deal in Chi-town.
What are we thinking?
Jacque Jones is:
1. In decline
Despite career numbers of .279 BA/.327 OBP/.782 OPS, Jones has posted two mediocre seasons back-to-back in 2004 and 2005.
It's a troubling drop-off between '03 and '04, and I worry greatly about what sort of offense he is likely to provide somewhere in the middle of the lineup. I cannot imagine him towards the top of the batting order given low SB totals and generally average speed.
2. A touch of clutch
One of his wild-card features is his hitting in clutch situation. Despite those low BA stats over the past 2 seasons, he has a reasonable .281 BA with RISPs, and a .275 mark with 2-out RISPs. Those numbers are down slightly in '04 and '05, but nevertheless, I'd take Jones over Burnitz for contact hitting and putting the ball in play during moments with runners on and time running out.
3. Reasonable in the Field
4 errors in 2005 show that his defense is still where it needs to be. It might take him a while to adjust to the wind and swirl at Wrigley, but he's a marginal upgrade over Burnitz out there.
I am still a little bitter about this deal. We were supposed to be looking for another offensive threat to not only augment the power of Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, but someone who could provide yet another warm body on base (along with Pierre, hopefully) for the deadly duo to convert into runs.
The salary size (it seems small, but there's a reason the Twins weren't even thinking of shelling out close to this) is also disconcerting, because we have a number of big names up for arbitration and free agency looming around the corner (ARam, DLee, Zambrano I think, off the top of my head) and this money is now clogged up in a declining outfielder.
As it stands, the starting lineup seems to be complete:
RF J. Jones
I worry about that as it looks, but it's still way too early to tell. We've lost some years on our starting lineup, but we've gained unnecessary salary in shaky players. Regardless, we can't fight Hendry saying that he hasn't addressed a need, but it will be some time before we can tell if that need has truly been addressed.