Oh, what to make of Atlanta Braves center fielder Andruw Jones. He's a five-time All Star, and nine-time winner of the Gold Glove award. But three months from free agency, Jones has had a difficult contract year. In May ESPN writer Jayson Stark labeled Jones the most overrated center fielder of all time. Jones has a bigger problem though, and it's coming from within. With millions of dollars on the line, Jones is flirting far too closely to the Mendoza Line.
Jones' performance this far is troublesome and confusing at the same time. Going into Sunday's game Jones is batting .204 for the season, 29 points lower than any other major league center fielder. He's also on pace to strike out a career-high 166 times.
Yet the same player who has struggled mightily to bat for average is doing exceptionally in the power department. Jones does have 15 home runs and 54 RBI, putting him in the top three for his position.
So how should prospective teams view Mr. Jones? A power hitter masquerading as a center fielder, or is it the other way around? Now in his 12th season, is Jones' body wearing down, and will his defense be the next to slip? Or could it be that he is an exceptional player that is just in an extraordinary slump?
In a world where Juan Pierre can get $45 million over 5 years, Jones and his agent Scott Boras really have nothing to worry about.
"Look in between, and you'll still have a guy who hits 35-40 home runs and drives in 115. For a center fielder, that's unbelievable," Boras said. "And he plays Gold Glove defense."That's right. Some team will sign Jones this winter, likely at an inflated price. Just think about what Boras has done for his other clients.
"Magglio Ordonez got a contract for $105 million, and he barely played," Boras said.If Ordonez could get that kind of money only having played 50 games the previous season, then Jones should sleep better at night. Just keep swinging for the fences Andruw, all will be well.