Andruw Jonesin’

So what should we make of this Andruw Jones
signing? When GM, Ned Colletti, brought him in, it was with
the belief that he would provide the team with some serious
power in the middle of the lineup. Afterall, this is a guy
who’s hit 51 HRs in a season and has hit 368 HRs in his 12
seasons in the league. No doubt, those are some impressive
power numbers. Admittedly, he’s never been a contact hitter
and has trouble getting on base at times but he’s never had a
problem knocking the ball out of the park…that is, until
last year came around. Andruw saw a massive decline in
production in his ’07 season, hitting .222 with 26 HRs and 94
RBIs. Of course, the average is concerning but those power
numbers would’ve still made him the most productive Dodgers’
bat, had he been in the lineup last season. But even with
that small consolation, the numbers that he usually puts up
were cut in half. What makes those numbers all the more
troubling is the fact that last season was a “contract year”
for Jones. It’s generally believed that players improve their
play in contract years in order to secure a nice new contract
the following season. Andruw claimed that a wrist injury
bogged down his swing last year but he played through it
(likely because he was in a contract year and didn’t want to
land on the DL). During the offseason, he said that the wrist
was no longer a problem and his swing should be back to where
it always had been. Those were comforting words at the time,
but the numbers tell a different story to start the season.
So far this season, Andruw has 7 hits in 47 at-bats which
translates to a measly .149 average. That’s a major
regression from last season, which was a major regression
from the last. So what are we left with? A .149/0/2/6/0 guy
at $18 mil a year? That’s what it looks like right now. I
fully expect Andruw to turn it on at some point. He can’t
possibly finish the season with a sub-.200 average. 20 HRs is
still a virtual lock, the only problem at this point may be
playing time. Andruw has been playing so poorly to start the
season, manager, Joe Torre, has actually benched him for a
few games in favor of players who are getting paid a fraction
of his salary. This is a bit surprising for Joe because he’s
notorious for sticking with his veterans thru thick and thin.
That has to be an indicator as to just how bad things have
gotten for Andruw….even Joe Torre isn’t willing to play him
everyday. That begs the question; “will getting benched hurt
his confidence and push him back even further?” It’s possible
but I highly doubt Andruw drew that message from the move. If
anything, he obviously needed a rest and maybe Joe was doing
him a favor. An encouraging sign is the fact he’s collected 3
hits in his last 7 at-bats which is a step in the right
direction. Now he has to show some consistency and start
launching some pitches over the fence. One would have to
think that “he’s due” for a big game sometime soon. There’s
simply no way that this slump will continue all season long.
I’m not saying he’ll suddenly start hitting .300 but .250 is
within reach. If he can get a base hit a quarter of the time
he comes to the plate and slug 25-30 HRs, his contract will
have been well worth it because we need a guy in the lineup
that can put runs on the board with one swing of the bat.
However, if this slump continues, who knows what will happen?
Torre may be inclined to bench him for an extended period of
time if he’s producing absolutely nothing for the team.
Either way, this contract is starting to look pretty scary
and I’m sure this is not what Ned Colletti envisioned when he
handed the guy tens of millions of dollars. At least Ned knew
not to give him 3+ years but this has to be a knock against
him as GM. This isn’t the first questionable move he’s made.
We’re still stuck with his last mistake, Juan Pierre, and
Andruw isn’t looking a whole lot better at this
point.