Showing posts with label Texas Rangers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Texas Rangers. Show all posts

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jones Worth the Risk?

It has been reported on Sunday that the Texas Rangers will sign Andruw Jones to a minor league contract. I believe this to be an excellent move by Texas. Although Jones’ numbers have been in steady decline over the past 3 seasons and reports from his winter league play were far from impressive, I see this as a no lose situation for the Rangers. Andruw is still only 32 years old with 13 years of MLB service. This is a player with 10 Gold Glove awards, 9- 90+ RBI seasons, and something to prove.

The Rangers outfield/ DH situation projects out to be Josh Hamilton, David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Marlon Byrd, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The one glaring thing about this group of players is that none of them are a true centerfielder, a position Andruw has played more than adequately in the past. Right now the starting centerfielder looks to be Josh Hamilton. Does Texas really want their best run producer playing 65-70 games (assuming he DH’s some) in their spacious centerfield at their furnace of a home ballpark? I wouldn’t think so, if they can help it. The rest of their outfield core, while definitely a solid group of ballplayers, are far from a sure thing for a team looking to compete in the weakened AL West.

Marlon Byrd, their most experienced player with 7 years in the league, has been injury prone throughout his career playing in 130+ games just once, in 2003. At 31 years of age I don’t seeing him becoming Mr. Durability anytime soon. He looks to be more of a solid 4th outfielder/platoon man, not someone you can count on to start all year long. Nelson Cruz, who at 28 is certainly not young by MLB standards, looks to be coming into his own, but is far from a sure bet. After a breakout season in ‘08 with a combined 44 Home Runs and 125 RBI’s between AAA and the big leagues, good things seem to be coming. Although you can’t ignore the fact that after 557 major league at bats he has posted a .251 batting average with a .312 on base. David Murphy, the projected starting left fielder is another player coming off a promising ‘08. Like Cruz though he lacks experience for his age, of 27. Murphy has posted a career batting average of .286 and an on base of .334 after 542 at bats. He is a line driver hitter with solid gap power. While he is the better pure hitter, he lacks the raw power of Nelson Cruz.

I definitely feel that Andruw Jones could make a positive impact on this team. Will he ever win another Gold Glove award? I doubt it. If he gets himself into shape I do think he is capable of playing a solid centerfield. Assuming the Rangers would like to use Hamilton as their centerfielder as little as possible, I see Jones being a very viable option for 80-90 games. Combining with Marlon Byrd in a platoon situation could allow the Rangers to keep Hamilton as their RF/DH.

The next question would be though, can Jones produce offensively? Like all questions about Jones it will come down to what kind of shape he’s in. I think if he can hit .250 with 20 home runs and 75 RBIs, similar to what Sammy Sosa did in his stint with Texas in ‘07, the Rangers would be more than pleased. If he pans out the Rangers are only on the hook for 1 million dollars which would include incentives. That’s a bargain these days for a 20/75 player. He still has to win a roster spot in spring training and prove he can still play. If he doesn’t work out, the Rangers can send him down to the minors or release him only owing him $500,000 if he does crack the big league roster. If he does work out though, the Rangers could be getting one heck of a deal.

-Robb Lennahan

Beyond Belief: The Josh Hamilton Story

I recently read this book and thought I’d share a little bit about it with you. We all know the plot of the story. Josh was the #1 pick in the draft out of high school for Tampa Bay (at the time Devil) Rays. A can’t miss prospect who becomes a cocaine addict, recovers, and was the feel good story of the 2008 baseball season. First and foremost this is not a book about baseball. This is a book about drug addiction with a backdrop of baseball.

After re-aggravating a back injury during the offseason of 2001 Josh used cocaine for the first time at the age of 20. This is followed by numerous suspensions from Major League Baseball, trips in and out of rehab, and the loss of family and friends. More low points include blowing through his 3.96 million dollar signing bonus and selling his wife’s wedding ring for crack.

On October 6th, 2005 after a 4 year spiral into the dark world of crack cocaine addiction, Josh started on the road to recovery with the help of his grandmother and his religion. Josh is still clean to this day and as I’m sure you all know is flourishing in baseball right now with the Texas Rangers. He led the AL in RBI in 2008 and also put on a memorable show at the HR Derby at the All-Star Game.

Being a fan of his is definitely an added bonus to reading the book along with all the insights and a look at the inner workings of the game; such as day to day life in the minors and the big leagues. Also, the book is an interesting look at a ball club’s pre-draft preparations. Baseball fan or not, this book is a flat out a must read.

-Robb Lennahan