Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Jones-ing in right
2005-12-20 18:02
by Derek Smart

I just caught wind of the news that the Cubs have signed Jacque Jones to a three-year, $16M deal. I thought I smelled something on my way home, but I figured it was merely the odor of rotten food and other unspeakable elements commingling and wafting up from a nearby alleyway. Now I know it was the anticipatory stench of the Cub outfield.

I don't think I can fully express how bad a signing this is. Obviously, I'm not privy to the various trade discussions the Cubs have had with parties unknown, and so I can't understand how the asking price of potentially useful players might have brought Jim Hendry to this particular point of hallucinatory desperation, but I cannot believe that even the strongest Alice-in-Wonderland engraved dose could make a reasonable person look at Jones and see a player worthy of this kind of expenditure in years and dollars.

I'm going to cut my rant short lest I melt the keyboard, and besides, I need to pack, but before I go off to have my brain melted into goo and reconstituted without the pollutants this horrific train wreck of a signing has deposited therein, cleansing my mind of bile so that I might enjoy my family holiday in peace, let me mention that Jones' career hitting line is .279/.327/.455, which is bad enough for a right fielder, but even worse when you consider that he's been playing well below that level for the last two years.

It's one thing to make a bad signing for a single season, but this is one that the club will be regretting from here to 2008, and I simply see no way around it. It will make the team worse in 2006, and it will make them worse for the two years that follow. Perhaps other moves would have done even more damage than this move does, but unless I see some evidence of that, I'm not buying. Conscious or not, this signing signals that the club has decided to rest all their hopes on the arms of their pitching staff, and with how well we've seen that work of late, one can't be blamed for feeling like Cub fans have just received three years of coal in their collective stockings.

2005-12-20 19:22:02
1.   Ken Arneson
Well, if Dusty Baker doesn't keep running him out there against LHP like Ron Gardenhire did, it won't be that horrendous. .814 OPS vs. RHP in 2005, .830 career. (.616/.617 OPS vs LHP).

Just trying to cheer you up a bit before the holidays.

2005-12-20 19:39:11
2.   Bob Timmermann
Perhaps the Cubs thought, "He went to USC, maybe that Pete Carroll magic will rub off on him."

I saw him play in a game at Evans Diamond. I believe Rodney Peete was on the USC team at the time.

2005-12-20 19:42:49
3.   shawndgoldman
We absolutely MUST sign a lefty-masher to platoon with Jones. That's the only way this deal makes any sense whatsoever.

The only way this gets worse is if the Cards deal prospects for Coco Crisp...

2005-12-20 22:06:03
4.   James
Merry Christmas, Derek.
2005-12-20 22:11:44
5.   James
Shawn... not much worry there since they don't have any prospects that would make the Indians want to get rid of Crisp. Of course, the Cubs do, but they're too busy signing mediocre outfielders to long-term deals... and yes I'm talking about Juan Pierre as well.

I guess Kevin Mench isn't such a bad idea now.

2005-12-21 01:48:17
6.   tewksbury
Apparently, Hendry thought Huff, our best option, was too expensive, prospect-wise. It's tough to evaluate Hendry without knowing what the Rays offered. I like Huff, but would've been very reluctant to give up Hill to get him.

On the plus side, Jones' numbers will go up moving from the Dome to Wrigley.

Reggie Sanders is the guy we need now. We have the money. Go get him!

Sanders OPS vs. L Jones OPS vs. R
2005 .860 .814
2004 .722 .775
2003 1.015 .834
2002 .895 .952

Not all that shabby. Comparable to Huff, who is .820 career OPS.

2005-12-21 05:15:49
7.   TFD
Hey D: Cheer up! Festivus for the rest of us.

Best to you and your fam...TFD

2005-12-21 07:59:30
8.   nickb
Derek, I offer you my condolences. At the same time, I'm dancing a jig of joy that my beloved Royals did not end up pulling off that deal. We were the supposed front-runners for a while and I could feel an ulcer beginning to develop. At least you can feel a little better knowing a down-and-out Royals fan like me found a backwards way to feel better about the upcoming season. Sorry, man.
2005-12-21 08:11:31
9.   The Boar
Yeah, this was bad news to wake up to, but call me optimistic, I'm not ready to say this is the end of the world.

There's no way that this is a good signing. It becomes a decent signing if and only if Hendry goes out and acquires a lefty-masher, someone like Eric Brynes and Kevin Mench (who we'd better move fast on, as I've a feeling the Cards are going to trade Marquis for). Of course, I'd also be fine if he, say, traded for Vernon Wells and then used Murton to platoon with Jones. I'll take what I can get at this point.

I don't mind the money, and I don't mind the player TOO much -- it's the three years that makes this a bad signing. Jones is not a serviceable corner outfielder offensively and unless he is set to replace Pierre in CF next year (doubt it, I bet Pierre gets re-upped), this deal is definitely 1-2 years too long. If it were a stopgap thing for 2006 because of the weak FA market, I'd be happier, but three years clearly signals Hendry thinks this is our guy (not to mention his praise for his "patience at the plate"). Ugh.

We now have a right-fielder, though, and while I'm not sure how much better he'll be than Burnitz, he is cheaper I guess. Hendry blew this one in my opinion, and lost out on trade opportunities while focusing on the Furcal thing prior to the winter meetings. That's two seasons in a row he's been too focused on one player and had a bad offseason because of him.

Still, if any Cardinal fan tries to make fun of me, all I'm going to say in reply is "Sidney Ponson".

Happy holidays, Derek.

2005-12-21 08:22:58
10.   Uncle Charlie

I'm not ecstatic about the move either, but I'm not spewing bile over it either. I have to trust that Huff would have cost us a top prospect plus a major leaguer and that Hendry has other plans for that ammunition. I'd rather have Jones if that means we're going to use Walker, Patterson, Hill or Guzman to get us a quality #2 or 3 starter in a trade.

Jones will do better at Wrigley than at the cavernous Metrodome, but I am concerned about his low career average in day games. Here's hoping his career numbers find a median and that he's back to hitting at least .285, adding some great defense, for once, and showing us a good head for running the bases. I see 55+ homers from the outfield and another 100+ from Ramirez, Lee and Barrett. Not too bad for a team with low power in the outfield.

Sanders would be a great free agent addition for platooning at either corner, but the guy I really want is Zito. And now maybe Hendry still has the players and prospects to make it happen. Please place him in the collective Cub stocking this Christmas.

2005-12-21 08:59:04
11.   onetimer
Does anyone doubt that if the Cubs sign Regie Sanders to platoon that he would end up starting over Murton? Dusty will start some washed up platoon player over a rookie if he has the chance. We're in the earn business, remember, and Murton hasn't earned his stripes like Neifi or a good dude like Sanders.
2005-12-21 09:23:08
12.   Uncle Charlie
Reggie Sanders' OPS in 2005: .886. If Dusty wants to "platoon" him in the Cubs outfield, as long as he's performing, I wouldn't care if he played in 50% - 60% of the games. I want to win. And I don't care if Sanders is near the end of a 15+ year career. Rag on Dusty all you want, but over his career, the guy does know how to use veterans to get to the post season.
2005-12-21 09:39:07
13.   joejoejoe
Maybe you can flip '07 free agents Maddux and Kerry Wood for good prospects at the trading deadline. Because the Cubs won't be needing them for any pennant race. Is that a silver lining?
2005-12-21 10:05:36
14.   onetimer
And Murton had a 900+ OPS last season (in 51 games). I'm not going to argue this because I don't think Sanders would be a terrible platoon with Jones. I think it would mean that Murton wouldn't play as much as he should and that would be a shame since he hit at every damn level he played at last year (and this fall).

As for Dusty, he used veterans last year to make sure that the Cubs got their 79 wins. Hurrah! Thankfully, we need only deal with him for one more year.

2005-12-21 12:25:04
15.   chicagoburke
1. Dusty, with the current lineup, will wear out his welcome with the Cubs fans this year.

2. JJ is not the answer this year, next year or the year after that. I would have rather seen C-Pat paraded out there with a 1-year deal for 2-3mm

3. Starting pitching, despite everything I read, is not the strength of this club. It has been preached about (blogs/mags/experts) for the past 3+ seasons and has not materialzed. Our only strength that we can back with consistent players and numbers is first & third. We have a dominant #1 (Z) an injury prone #2 (Prior...yeah yeah yeah i hear ya) and a Valiant warrior #5 (Maddux). Not really a murder's row.

4. Murton HAS to be our left fielder, despite what Hendry does, unless that is, he trades for Manny (which i know won't happen, but i can dream right)!

5. All that said, we should be better than last year, although not much better.

Happy Holidays all...Thanks for keeping my afternoons interesting!

2005-12-21 12:53:39
16.   Uncle Charlie
I agree that Matt Murton should get a lot of playing time, and I hope he's a stud out there. I'm just a bit skeptical that he can keep up the pace of the last part of the season (I've seen his stats from Winter ball). It's not a bad idea to have Mabry and Sanders spelling Murton and Jones once in awhile, and while Dusty may have a tendancy to overplay the vets, I have to defer to him, based on the success he usually has with a fresh lineup roaring through September. Of course, the last two years were disappointing exceptions (but I put most of the fault in '04 on the suddenly shriveling Sosa).

Patterson's K/BB ratio last year was 5/1. Ugh! Jones strikes out a lot, but not nearly that much in relation to his walks. Jones wasn't my first choice, but he's better than Patterson and can't possibly swoon any worse than Burnitz did in August and September.

And I completely agree that the Cubs need to try to trade for a stud #3 starter. We can't keep crossing our fingers that half the rotation won't go down at some point. Potential doesn't win games. We need a quality--preferably left handed--innings eater.

2005-12-21 13:14:53
17.   rtantna
JJ maybe an improvement over last years model. Watch for 100+ strikeouts!
What all this may mean is that CP will not loose any games for the club in '06. CP as trade bait? Wait and see, there is plenty of time to move pieces before '06 warms up for baseball.
Be grateful believers, this could be a "put up or shut up year" for certain Cubs pitching primos. Pitching still wins championships, but funny, the Yankees don't act that way anymore...they put a great centerfielder and no pitching in the stocking for Christmas. I feel better about the whole year already.
2005-12-21 13:27:59
18.   Uncle Charlie
Yeah, George Steinbrenner seems set on pissing off the Red Sox more than improving his own team with sensible signings. That was the only thing I could think of when they were talking to Nomar about playing first, and then Damon... I hope they finish third behind Toronto and the Sox.

Yes, the strikeouts are a big concern with Jones. I really hope he can improve in that area and get back to the good years when he had closer to 2 Ks for every BB, instead of almost 4Ks.

2005-12-21 13:43:14
19.   Uncle Charlie
And even with Jones, who I feel better about defensively than anyone we've had in right for a long time, the lineup does give reason to be hopeful, especially with Pierre leading off. When's the last time the Cubs had four or more .300+ hitters on the team for the season? If Walker plays second and Ramirez stays healthy, it's certainly a possibility. Murton, Ramirez, Pierre, Cedeno (optimistic), Walker, Jones and Lee have either done it in their careers or are very capable.

OPS for 2005
Lee: 1.080
Ramirez .926
Barrett .824
Murton .908
Walker .829

I feel good about these power numbers enough to not care as much about power coming from the right fielder. I just don't want him making idiotic base-running gaffs that take us out of innings (Alou and Sosa), I want him to get to balls in the corner, and I want him to do better than 3-hopping the ball to the catcher on a play at the plate (Sosa).

2005-12-23 17:39:23
20.   Schteeve
Could people stop using the words "Eric Byrnes" and "masher" in the same sentence? It makes my eye twitch. Thx.
2005-12-24 23:38:25
21.   Stef
So, I shouldn't waste my time drawing Mr. Jones? :-P

I thought I'd share my Mark Prior drawing I just finished and shall be giving away as a Christmas gift. The direct link is:

Don't worry about the title of the homesite. There's no R-rated items. It's just a phrase created in place of "SWEET!"

I'm also a newbie to this blog and may only check it weekly. Stay warm and take care!

2005-12-27 09:41:55
22.   The Boar
So the question is, who would you rather have, Jacque Jones or Juan Encarnacion? I'll take Jones.

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