This Hollywood masterpiece doesn’t involve Kurt Russell reprising the role of Snake Plisskin, though some may theorize that Andruw Jones
don the eyepatch in an attempt to reverse his recent fortunes. Before
the new year could make it through its opening day, speculation has the
Los Angeles Dodgers trying to buy out and/or unload Jones and his
It was just a week ago that we were watching everyone squash a rumored trade to the New York Mets for Luis Castillo.
Now reports are stating that Jones and the Dodgers have reached an
agreement that would defer the remaining 22.1 million owed over the
next several years. The club has agreed to trade or release Jones as
Top priority in Dodgersland has been given to bringing back Manny Ramirez.
And why not? Ramirez seems to be hitting better with age. Getting the
slugger who reversed the team’s fortunes following his trade deadline
acquisition will no doubt take a large sum of the green stuff – and I’m
not talking new year’s collards.
Dumping Jones money, or at least breaking it into several years worth
of small payments rather than a lump sum should allow Los Angeles to
get to the business of getting to the table with Ramirez.I don’t have
to tell the average baseball fan that if the bitter long-term rival San
Francisco Giants are earnest in their decision to pursue Ramirez, then
it behooves Colletti to step things up and seal the deal.
the bouncing ball would point to the fairly obvious fact that L.A.
could save some money by unloading Jones to another team, but that
won’t be easy after he followed a .222-26-94 season with his horrendous
.158-3-14 campaign that was highlighed by injury for the first time in
a 13-year career. More alarming and dissuading for a potential buyer
would be the 76 strikeouts in 209 at-bats. Jones also missed out on
winning his 11th Gold Glove Award as well.
It would probably
be silly to go from those stat-lines to suggest that the Braves would
be an excellent place for Andruw to find employment if indeed he is
released from his duties out West. What could playing in Atlanta do for
Andruw now that it wasn’t doing for him in 2007 – his original
The Dodgers have solved what became a rather expensive dilemma with
Andruw. No other team is going to be interested in taking on any
portion of his salary unless or until he proves he can be productive
again. You can probably safely assume that any interested club will
allow the Dodger to release and assume the majority of the deal and
then sign him for the Major League minimum.
Homecoming stories haven’t been a source of happy endings in Atlanta as of late – Tom Glavine last season for example. But more to the point of once great center fielders in decline, take Willie Mays
in the Mets years for example. Anyone who saw Mays falling down in the
outfield and struggling to run the bases in his final years probably
sees the similarities between the two. What Jones may is the
opportunity to get his career back on track… something that Mays was
not allowed to do because of age and mileage. It is doubtful this road
to redemption would lead back to Atlanta – but I wouldn’t say
At 32-years old this April, Jones should still be
in the prime years of his career. The opposite has shown the past two
seasons. Strikeouts have soared while his power numbers have hit the
skids. Another thing that soared to new heights was Jones’ weight last spring when he reported to his first Dodger camp. The fans definitely noticed. See for yourself.
It got worse from there for Andruw, who was soon dubbed “tubbo” by the L.A. Times’ T.J. Simers.
He was the clever reporter who got Andruw to step on the scales to
register at 248 pounds. Yikes. Either way, Andruw’s usual relaxed
assuredness translated into a cavalier attitude in his new
surroundings. It was his complete lack of production made him anything
but a fan favorite. By the end of April, the smile that Braves fans
know as a Jones trademark could bring the blood of any Dodger fan to a
steady boil. Off-speed pitches became kryptonite and knee surgery
slowed the season to a crawl. Fast forward to September and the boys in
blue were making their playoff run without Jones, who essentially sent
himself home after a third DL stint.
Now Jones is down in
Aguilas, trying to get his entire career back on track this winter.
Various reports have stated that he is “looking forward” to his next
time out on the free agent market, while still others state that he has
slimmed down. Whatever the case may be, hitting .188 in half a dozen
games isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire.
matters more tragic, I’ll suggest you spend some time on Youtube and do
a quick search for “Andruw Jones.” If you don’t find a Dodger fan-made
hate video within your first page of results, then you just aren’t
paying attention. Here’s one. And here’s another. Same game, but you get the idea.
If it was a knee injury that sapped his numbers last season, then Jones
will have to get things back on track and show the baseball world that
the reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Till next time,
If you thought the Jake Peavy saga was enough to sour the Atlanta off-season… And if you thought it was frustrating when A.J. Burnett chose the Yankees over the Braves… then you must have loved the drama that unfolded when the Braves were scorned in their pursuit of free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal.
Monday morning, it was the Oakland Athletics running out in front of the pack with a four-year offer for Fucal’s services. There was a mystery team in the running, with the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers all believed to be interested to varying degrees. That msystery team, as we now know, turned out to be the Atlanta Braves, who offered Furcal a three-year deal worth a reported $30 million and included a vesting option for a fourth season.
Everything seemed to be beautiful for a fleeting couple of hours if you’re into the homecoming story of Atlanta’s not-so-long-lost lead-off man. Frank Wren and the Braves front office believed a deal was verbally agreed to and went as far as to schedule a flight and physical for Wednesday. As reports trickled out, it turned out to be news to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who stated that his club was still in negotiations to retain Furcal. That is where we come off the tracks.
This story has twisted and turned and finally landed in the completely bizarre. Furcal’s Atlanta-based agent, Paul Kinzer, managed to thoroughly upset the apple-cart as it comes to the Braves front office. Atlanta believes that Kinzer took a signed term sheet (a binding agreement that would have put into motion a full contract following the physical) and shopped it openly to the Dodgers. Is it any coincidence that the Dodgers jumped from luke-warm interest (having made it clear that a 2-year deal was all they were interested in) to making a 3-year deal with a fourth year vesting option for… $30 million?
That raised a few eyebrows and more than a few red flags in my book. The fact that the Braves say they were lead to believe that they had an verbal agreement with Kinzer is hard to comprehend. How could they think they had a deal? How do you misunderstand a player agreeing to a deal in principle? I still don’t know how each side can state so fervently that they are in the right. Somebody is lying here folks. And I’m not even going to get into the debate regarding a position switch that may have been a deciding factor working against the Braves.
Personally, I don’t mind Furcal returning to the Dodgers. His major back surgery is not something that would lead me to believe he is fully recovered after just one week in late September and a handful of post-season games. Back injuries are tricky, and the Braves may have dodged a bullet (much-pun intended) by allowing the Dodgers to step up and “steal” Furcal away for a multi-year deal.
Wren and Braves President John Schuerholz have gone on the record as calling the moves made by Furcal’s agents “dispicable” and have stated they will never do business with the Wasserman Media Group again. Who knows if cooler heads will eventually prevail, but this thing has turned into a full scale fued.
The Braves have work to do, most notably, they need to acquire a front of the rotation starter and one more hitter to solidifty the rotation and the line-up. The free-agent pool offers a few options but it seems logical that one of these needs will be filled by a trade. Could it possibly be Jake Peavy after all this time?
Things are slow in Bravesland, but there’s still time on the clock for Wren to make it happen.
Till next time,
It is not hard to imagine that the New York Yankees still have money to spend and needs to fill. The question is, how much money and on who will with they spend it? How about Bronx native Manny Ramirez?
Keep in mind, this is the same Manny Ramirez who was reportedly mulling retirement if he did not receive an offer which matched the criteria he is seeking this off-season. Perhaps that is just Manny being ridiculous (thanks Ben K. from RiverAveBlues.com). This is the same Manny Ramirez who was suspected of feigning injury in his final days in Boston. This is the same Ramirez who was reportedly involved in some kind of altercation with a clubhouse attendant over ticket requests. Keep all that in mind.
And keep this in mind. Ramirez is a game changing, clutch-hitting, power machine that can strike fear into the heart of any opposing pitcher. This is the Ramirez who carries a career .314 average, 527 homers and 1,725 RBI in 2,103 contests (that’s an average of 41 homers and 133 RBI per 162 games). This is the Ramirez who hit .396 and drove in 53 runs down the stretch to lift the Dodgers into the play-offs. This is the same Ramirez who may be the greatest right-handed hitter of his generation.
So which one of these scenarios is truly, Manny being Manny?
Agent to the stars, Scott Boras, has at least one interested suitor in the L.A. Dodgers. Negotiations there have been somewhat of a mini-soap opera, with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti spending some time pondering over why the team did not hear from Ramirez and Boras regarding the offer they extended in mid-November when clubs had exclusive rights to their free-agents to be. That deal was reported to reach up to $60 million, if a third year option was exercised.
The Yankees may just choose to let the Angels, Red Sox and Nationals have a spending frenzy over switch-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira. We know Teixeira will get his money from some club, but is anyone really pondering giving Ramirez a 5-year pact north of $100 million? He would certainly provide significant power to a Yankees line-up that is in state of flux. Not many teams would look forward to going through an A-Rod and Manny 1-2 punch.
In many ways, Ramirez’s fate is inextricably linked to that of former Brave and fellow Boras client, Teixeira, who is looking to land the kind of contract Ramirez did back in the winter of 2000 (8-years $160 million). In fact, it is believed that most teams who are seriously looking into Teixeira’s services are probably only viewing Ramirez as a fall-back option – with one notable exception, the Boston Red Sox. For them, it is Teixeira or bust.
Ramirez has shown to be both a lightning rod and a clutch-performer, a defensive liability and an offensive power-house. These night and day qualities are all part of the package that a team is getting when they sign Manny Ramirez. It’s up to the club to decide if the headaches (and there willbe headaches) will be worth the pay-off
Until Boras can line up a potential match, it looks like Manny will have to spend more time working out, playing video games and watching cartoons. Or maybe selling another grill on Ebay?
Now that is just Manny being Manny.
Till next time,