Dec
27

Mailbag: Andruw Jones

By

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Seb asks: As I’m from Holland and a huge Yankee fan, I would love to see a fellow Dutchman in pinstripes. Do you think there’s any chance the Yanks will pursue Andruw Jones this offseason? He fits their needs as a fourth outfielder/power bat off the bench. He’s put up some solid power numbers the past two seasons in Texas and Chicago with his splits against lefties looking much better than against righties. He is still a solid defender, definitely better than Thames, and although he might not be the player he used to be.. to me he looks like a pretty good fit for the Yanks. Do you see a spot for him on the 2011 Yankees?

It’s been a long, long time since Jones broke onto the scene as a 19-year-old in 1996, terrorizing the Yankees with a two-homer game in the World Series. Tough to believe that his borderline Hall of Fame career is rapidly coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of helping a big league team in a limited role. The Yankees need a right-handed hitting outfielder, and the still just 33-year-old Jones might be their guy.

Since leaving the Braves as a free agent three seasons ago, he’s bounced from the Dodgers to the Rangers to the White Sox, hitting just .204/.312/.411 (.328 wOBA) with 39 homers along the way. It’s an ugly slash line, no doubt about it, but it masks a rather pronounced platoon split. During that time Jones has hit just .196/.288/.402 (.304 wOBA) against righties but .219/.352/.428 (.344 wOBA) against lefties. If we look at just the last two seasons to remove that horrific 2008 campaign with the Dodgers, we get .215/.310/.477 (.340 wOBA) vs. righties and .234/.369/.463 (.363 wOBA) vs. lefties. Dude can’t hit for average to save his life, but he’ll certainly take his walks and he still hits for a ton of power.

One concern I have is how Jones has tailed off in each of the last two years, something Joe wrote about it at FanGraphs this summer. Andruw dropped off from a .424 wOBA in his first ~110 plate appearances in 2009 to just a .320 wOBA in his final ~220 plate appearances of the season, then the same thing happened in 2010. He had a .427 wOBA in his first ~110 plate appearances, and just .340 in ~220 plate appearances after that. The drop off wasn’t as severe this past season, but it still happened and we can’t ignore it. Jones has been a hot starter in each of the last two years and then he’s been merely average, if not worse after mid-May.

Defensively, Jone is no longer the historically great defender in center that he used to be. In fact, he’s spent more time playing the corners than center over the last three years, and even more time at designated hitter. He’s even dabbled at first base on occasion. His UZR‘s during that time are just okay at best, and we should expect him to get worse going forward, not better. If he’s playing once or twice a week, below average glovework in a corner outfield spot won’t be the end of the world.

Bench players are bench players because they have flaws in their game and aren’t good enough to be starters. Jones’ problem(s) is that he’s struggled against right-handers and hasn’t performed consistently over a full 162 game schedule over the last two years, not to mention that he strikes out a ton (once ever four at-bats in recent years). That last part is to be expected with power hitters, however. The good news is that he should come cheap, really cheap actually. Last year the White Sox paid Jones just $500,000 with another million bucks in incentives, the second straight year he’s settled for a six-figure base salary. The market has exploded this winter, but it still shouldn’t take more than $1.5-2M to sign Jones. And if it does, let someone else pay him.

I still prefer Scott Hairston as the righty outfield bat off the bench, but Andruw isn’t a bad option, probably the second best on the free agent market. The Yankees offered Jones an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster player two years ago, but he turned them down for a guaranteed deal with the Rangers. If nothing else, that tells us he’s on their radar, and I’m willing to bet they’re at least considering him again this offseason.

Categories : Mailbag

89 Comments»

  1. Steve H says:

    Has anyone figured out any reason why he might have tailed off so badly? I’d prefer Hairston as well, but wouldn’t mind Jones in that he can still defend in the corners and working with Long couldn’t be a bad thing.

  2. Plank says:

    I still prefer Scott Hairston as the righty outfield bat off the bench, but Andruw isn’t a bad option, probably the second best on the free agent market.

    Do you really believe Scott Hairston and Andruw Jones are better players than Manny Ramirez? That seems crazy to me. If not first, where would you rank Manny?

    • Steve H says:

      They are a better fit. They can both play defense and are bench players. Manny is not only likely looking to start, but we have no idea how he’d be coming off the bench. I love Manny, but it makes no sense to sign him over guys like Hairston and Jones when you take everything into consideration. Manny is a DH, and we don’t need one of those.

      • Plank says:

        Andruw Jones isn’t a bench player. He has been benched because his hitting is so atrocious, but he’s always been a starter when healthy and effective.

        Hairston is a bench player because he’s not that good. If the Yankees can sign Manny and he’ll accept a bench role, why wouldn’t they do it? Yeah, his defense is bad, but not as bad as Fenway made it seem. His WAR has always been higher than those guys, give or take a few years Andruw may have beat him. WAR factors in defense and Manny is the better player.

        The whole 4th OF debate is a discussion of who could replace Thames. Thames was a terrible fielder with a big bat. Why would Scott Hairston be a better fit than Manny?

        • Steve H says:

          Thames’ role wasn’t as 4th OF when the season started. If all had gone well, Thames never would have seen an inning in the field. Thames as the DH against LHP and 5th OF in name only.

          • Plank says:

            You are focusing on how those players are better than Manny and ignoring the rest. Manny is flat out a better player than Jones and Hairston. He will help the Yankees win more games.

            The Indians, Red Sox, and Indians did pretty well during his tenure. Yes, Manny’s defense would be a liability when he’s in the field. Just like Hairston’s bat would be a liability when he’s in the lineup.

            Overall, not just focusing on defense, but including it, Manny is much better than Jones and Hairston.

            • Steve H says:

              Manny is flat out a better player than Jones and Hairston. He will help the Yankees win more games.

              Not so sure about that.

              • Plank says:

                You really believe Manny Ramirez isn’t better than Scott Hairston? That’s unbelievable.

                Mike qualified what he was saying by not including Manny because he doesn’t think he’ll be a part time player. That’s fair.

                But you think Manny is worse than Scott Hairston. Wow.

            • I Voted 4 Kodos says:

              Overall, not just focusing on defense, but including it, Manny is much better than Jones and Hairston.

              2010 WAR – Manny – 1.6 in 320 PA
              2010 WAR – Jones – 1.8 in 328 PA

              This obviously isn’t definitive, but if Jones produces as he did last year, there’s not much of a difference.

              • Plank says:

                If you choose a down year from Manny and an up year from Jones, that’s true.

                If you look at the last 4 years, it’s 12.1 for Manny and 1.5 for Jones.

                The last 3 years, it’s 10.7 for Manny and 0.0 for Jones.

                The last 2 years, it’s 4.5 for Manny and 2.3 for Jones.

    • Mike S. says:

      Defensively and Attitude-Wise? Definitely.

      • Plank says:

        I love Manny’s attitude. There has never been a player as misrepresented by the media as Manny. He helped the Red Sox win 2 WS and he was run out of town like a pariah. He plays baseball well and does everything he can to help his team win.

        defensively…definitely

        Would you rather have Brett Gardner than Barry Bonds ca. 2004? He is much better defensively than Bonds was.

        WAR factors in defense and Manny is way better than those guys.

        • Because Manny’s been good enough with his bat to get more PA. Manny on the 2011 Yankees likely won’t get enough PA to justify his cost or to rack up a high WAR. If Posada wasn’t stuck at DH, I think Manny to the Yankees would make a metric fuckton of sense. But, since he won’t be the primary DH and can’t play defense well enough to be a fourth OF, there’s no room for Manny on the 2011 Yankees.

          • Plank says:

            Manny on the 2011 Yankees likely won’t get enough PA to … rack up a high WAR

            Yes, if he plays every day, his WAR will be higher, but his skills will be the same if he get’s 100 PA or 700 PA. Why not get the most skilled player?

            You could make the same argument for literally every player in the history of the game.

            • Steve H says:

              Manny’s the most skilled hitter, but for the role the Yankees are looking to fill, I wouldn’t consider him the most skilled player. They need someone who can play defense.

            • I Voted 4 Kodos says:

              Yes, if he plays every day, his WAR will be higher, but his skills will be the same if he get’s 100 PA or 700 PA. Why not get the most skilled player?

              If he is the most skilled, he’s also the least likely to be willing to settle on a bench role and limited playing time. These signings don’t happen in a vacuum.

              • Plank says:

                I agree. He may not sign on as a bench player because he is so good. I was contending with the fact that the writers here and the readers apparently think Hairston and Jones are better than Manny regardless of whether he will sign or not.

                • I Voted 4 Kodos says:

                  They haven’t really said that, though. Most have said other players are a better fit, not that they’re better players. Part of that includes willingness to accept a bench role.

                  • Plank says:

                    From the article:

                    I still prefer Scott Hairston as the righty outfield bat off the bench, but Andruw isn’t a bad option, probably the second best on the free agent market.

                    How is that not saying Hairston and Jones are better?

                    • Steve H says:

                      How is that saying Hairston and Jones are better?

                    • Tom Zig says:

                      The way the Mike is ranking the players is not by skill level. If this were 100% about their ability to hit, Manny would be the undisputed #1 choice. But it is not 100% about their ability to hit. The Yankees need a player who will:

                      A) Be willing to accept a bench role
                      B) Be able to play the field competently
                      C) Be able to be at least a decent hitter

                      Manny does not fit A or B.

                    • Plank says:

                      Steve H: You are the one saying Hairston and Jones may be better.

                      Others: Almost every disagreement on this site is settled using WAR. Manny has the edge or tie in WAR in the long, medium, and short term yet that is ignored, because he doesn’t play great defense. I don’t understand the reason for the exception in this case.

            • Why not get the most skilled player?

              Because the most skilled player isn’t necessarily the right player for this job. It also means, as someone else said, he’s less likely to a take a backup job. I’ll say what I said yesterday: if the DH spot was wide open, I would want Manny for that job in a cocaine heartbeat. But, for a fourth outfielder, give me Hairston.

        • Gonzo says:

          So Manny 2011 = Barry 2004?

    • Mike HC says:

      Manny is obviously better than them, but for the role of part time player, he can cause more harm than good. Is Manny a good role model for a guy like Montero? Manny being Manny basically means Manny can get away with whatever he wants because he is such a good hitter. Is that going to fly when he is not even starting? Is that a good example for Montero to follow? As long as you mash you can act however you want? And how will Manny react when he is not playing everyday? I don’t know. I can see him falling asleep, simply leaving, or any number of things.

      Manny is a decent sign if the hope he plays everyday and produces at all star levels. If the expectation is for him to play only part time and help the team where and when we need him, it does not seem like the best risk to me. Although I see your side as well. He is so talented you can throw all the negatives out.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      I still prefer Scott Hairston as the righty outfield bat off the bench, but Andruw isn’t a bad option, probably the second best on the free agent market.

      Manny has never been a part-time player, why would I consider him one? This isn’t a vacuum.

      • Plank says:

        Okay, that’s fair. But every contract Jones has signed has been with the expectation that he would be the starter. The only times he hasn’t been the starter was when he sucked. Why do you assume he would be okay with a bench role but Manny wouldn’t?

  3. Dick Whitman says:

    My question is this:

    Is Andruw Jones a HOFer?

    70.5 fWAR.

    1998-2007: 7.3, 7.3, 7.9, 5.4, 6.8, 6.0, 5.8, 8.3, 6.0, 3.8

    Only two players with higher WAR during that 10 year stretch were A-Rod and Barry Bonds.

    Career fWAR list (5 ahead and below): Yogi Berra (71.4), Tim Raines, Willie Stargell, Joe Torre, Mark McGwire, Andruw Jones, Derek Jeter, Ozzie Smith, Craig Biggio, Zack Wheat, Barry Larkin (69.8)

    It’s something to think about and consider.

    With that said, I’d prefer Scott Hairston in 2011.

    • For me he is a HOFer. 70+ WAR, 400+ HRs as a CF. If he isn’t a HOFer then a lot of guys shouldn’t be. I’d vote for him.

    • JGS says:

      He’ll be a very interesting case. I think if he had abruptly retired when he started to suck he would have a better chance. Had he done that, he would basically be a lesser version of Jimmie Foxx, who accumulated all of 0.2 bWAR after age 33. However, with him hanging on and being a shell of his former self for so long, and with his falling off the cliff roughly corresponding to the beginning of steroid testing (I’m not saying he did anything, I’m just saying that will raise the suspicions of far too many overly sanctimonious voters. Look what’s happening right now to Bagwell), I’m going to say he doesn’t get in.

  4. ryan says:

    hahah he isn’t REALLY from the netherlands, he’s from a tiny island territory of curicao off the northern coast of south america.

    I hope someone from Guam makes it to the bigs so i can route for them!

  5. AJ says:

    He’s from Curacao, a Dutch colony but he’s an islander I don’t think he considers himself Dutch. But I think he’d be a decent option who wouldn’t want to go to a place where he can’t play full time.

  6. Mike HC says:

    I would pass on Jones. He is all name at this point, he is not getting any better and has disappeared down the stretch for the past couple of years. It is not how you start, but how you finish. That is why I think Granderson is not getting enough credit for last year, and Gardner is getting a bit too much. Just my opinion.

  7. tony73 says:

    forget jones,hairsten,manny,thames…just make a deal for j.upton & now your set for the next (5)yrs.quit looking at has-been’s & get a player that will give you (5)yrs.of solid fld’ng.& hitting..

  8. bonestock94 says:

    I brilliantly thought of this idea a couple of months back. I say do it.

  9. seimiya says:

    He was on Cribs while he was still with the Braves. His house was ENORMOUS – his like, two year old kid’s room was bigger than the master bedroom in my townhouse.

  10. dean says:

    One word, no.

  11. Mark L. says:

    Get Hairston, get Keppinger, get Francis, get Durbin — throw in an injury case like Aceves, Corpas or Duchscherer and call it an offseason with minimal talent lost and only $15 million spent.

  12. I could get on board with this. He could have a Thames type season. Insert obligatory “working with Kevin Long” comment here.

  13. cranky says:

    I’ve been bringing up Jones’ name for a while, now.
    To me, he’s perfect for the role.
    Comparisons with Manny are ridiculous. Manny’s not an outfielder, has never been a bench player, and has the attitude of a 9 year-old. People who disregard the fact that he once quit–QUIT–on his team have blinders on. Pundits have been writing about what it would be like to have an “underpaid” Manny Ramirez on the bench and what they’ve had to say hasn’t been pretty.
    More important–compare Andruw Jones to Marcus Thames. THAT’s the guy he’d be replacing on the roster. Jones hits lefties as well as Thames and can play some OF. AND, history indicates that he’s played for <$1,000,000 per season–something that Manny Ramirez hasn't done in a long, long time.
    Scott Hairston would be fine, too. This is, after all, a bench position we're talking about. But Manny Ramirez? Stay away. If you want him on the Yankees, you're a closet Yankees-hater or someone who has no idea of the value of teamwork in MLB.

    • Tom Zig says:

      Manny in July 2008:

      .347/.473/.587/1.060

      I do and don’t want Manny on the team. I want him because he can still hit (69 ABs in Chicago won’t change that). But I don’t want him because he wouldn’t have a spot on the team.

      However, to say he quit on Boston in July 2008 is just parroting a narrative that was created by the Boston media. It’s clearly a false statement.

      • jim p says:

        I was at the game where Mariano struck him out while Manny did not move the bat from his shoulders. Even for that setting up for the pitch thing batters do. He had told the manager earlier he didn’t want to play that day, and so, he didn’t.

        The Boston media was repeating what players on the team were telling them. In July he knew Boston was ready to trade him, in Apr & May he quit on his team, with a .254 avg and not running out batted balls. According to his teammates. Before the Globe and the front office started dissing him. Then you have to account for why he apologized for his behavior if it didn’t happen. http://hardballtalk.nbcsports......in-boston/

        We’ve won without him, Boston has won without him, the Dodgers won without him while he was suspended. I wouldn’t want his screwed up attitude on the team. He’ll quit on you when he feels like it. What’s the impact on Jeter and Jorge and Mariano and A-Rod when that happens?

    • Jeff in LA says:

      You don’t want Manny because you think he quit on the Sox in 2008 but you think Jones is “perfect for the role” on the Yankees bench? Andruw Jones in 2008 was the very definition of a player quitting on his team. Singularly the worst display of effort and attitude that I have ever seen.

      http://articles.latimes.com/20.....p-simers11

  14. Could Jones have been on steroids? It kinda explains why his tail off was so bad considering hes only 33…

    • Slugger27 says:

      i think he’s in the jason schmidt mold of steroids… it’s pretty obvious he did them, the majority is in agreement on it, but because theres no positive test and he hasn’t been outted by the media, he gets a pass

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Wait, what makes it so obvious Jason Schmidt did them? Every late bloomer gets the PED tag now? That seems real fair. Not like he was a former top prospect that got better after leaving the dungeons of Pittsburgh. Obviously, steroids.

        • Tom Zig says:

          Cliff Lee? Steroids
          Brett Gardner? Steroids
          Mike Axisa? Steroids

        • Slugger27 says:

          well, when his velocity goes from 92 to 97 in 1 year at age 29, and immediately plummets again after all the PED stuff came out to the public in the mid 2000s, as well as being in a locker room that was no stranger to them…. i think most make the assumption

          i could be wrong though

    • Gonzo says:

      I’m gonna start blaming the Four Loko ban next year.

  15. cranky says:

    I think he was juicing.
    But what do I know?
    I think that Luis Gonzales was juicing, too. And Jeff Bagwell. And a whole bunch of other guys not
    named Barry Bonds.

  16. LGY says:

    This Plank guy seems pretty dense…

    • I disagree. I think Boras is great at what he does. Using comment sections on blogs? Brilliant1

    • Plank says:

      I don’t understand. Every time someone disagrees with an article on this blog (and it turns out we weren’t even disagreeing) they get bombarded with negative feedback and personal attacks. Mike Axisa et al are great writers and good at analysis. It’s fine to disagree with them from time to time without it being personal.

      I think Manny Ramirez would be a great fit for the Yankees right now. Many others think so too. I backed up my opinion with logic and numbers. You disagree. That’s fine.

      Happy Holidays. I hope I can follow the festivities, but I may be too dense.

  17. KenB says:

    why why why …. are they getting desperate! The team is solid now, and all simply must play up to their pay! geeez not good sounds like a flash back to the 80″s all over again. Someone call Winfield too while we’re at it see if he’s available to start RF or even Luis Tiant.

  18. Wil Nieves #1 Fan says:

    Andruw Jones pooped on my front porch and lit it on fire.

    I’d rather take Hairston — Jones’ inability to play baseball irritates me.

  19. KAREL ARENDS says:

    Andruw Jones need a club like Yankees to finish his history in MLB. We from ARUBA and Curacao will like to see him playing and batting next to A-Rod….Last hope Jones in Yankees…..

  20. LemDaGem says:

    Manny ? Are you people on drugs ?!! Like Andruw Jones and Hairston their best days are behind them.
    I would rather see Brett Gardner flying around the bases and covering a LOT of territory in the OF than any of those over rated free agents. Manny is a defensive liability in the outfield. Jones and Hairston have slowed down and offensively ALL three couldn’t go from first to third if you held them at gunpoint on a consistent basis.
    Small ball and aggressive base running, coupled with airtight outfield defense will win more crucial close games than the odd long ball every 30 > 50 at bats for Jones & Hairston. Manny’s OBP has slipped and as a base runner, I’ll take Gardner or Granderson any day. If the “Grinder G’s” BOTH have above average seasons and stay healthy with Swish in the mix, why give up an excellent draft pick for a young lefty hurler for ANY of those over the hill types ? If the Yanks MUST get an available free agent outfielder, get a younger switch hitter or RH batting player with range, a good arm and speed.

  21. Tom Merritt says:

    As a Yankee fan, last summer when AJ had that hot streak, I was wishing he could come to NY. After 50 or so more games I checked his stats and saw how much he had tailed off. It would not work for him in NY.

    He’s only 33 and if he had the motivation he could get in much better physical condition and reclaim some of his skills. However, I can’t see him doing it.

    Manny is way over the hill and with Jorge as the DH what are we going to do with him? He can’t be put in the outfield.

    The Yankees are getting to the point where age is a serious factor over a season. They need to bring up some young players and get them some playing time. When was the last time a hot prospect from the farm system, came up, and stuck with great stats?

    They still have potential to be a good ball club next year. They will need some luck with injury avoidance and a couple guys to bounce back. For some reason, I don’t think Boston is going to be as good as some think. NY may do better as a perceived underdog.

    I’m not seeing any big roster changes before spring training with either NY or Boston. This could be a great year for a really competitive penant race between Boston and NY. Every game will count.

  22. mike says:

    I’d take Jones as a 4th OF. Decent power off the bench, Kevin Long can probably help cut down on the strikeouts.

    There are still a few options for 4th OF: Golson, Thames, Damon, Manny (no thanks), Jones etc…

    Cashman just has to pull the trigger

  23. dspeters5 says:

    Manny? Oh he was tremendous in Chicago, no homeruns, low batting average, no time in the field, very few RBI’s, ya no Manny love here. He stinks, no PED’s to influence GM’s before he gets a huge contract. Bring up Brandon Laird.

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