Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Colletti Coaxes Andruw Jones Into Dodger Bluw

The beauty of low expectations is that when a story like this breaks, you can't help but be shocked. LA Times reports that the Dodgers signed Andruw Jones to a two-year deal worth $36M. All I can say is, wow. I didn't expect this one.

NASHVILLE -- The Dodgers agreed to terms with free-agent center fielder Andruw Jones on a two-year guaranteed contract worth $36.2 million on Wednesday evening, according to multiple baseball sources. The deal is pending a physical.

By acquiring Jones on the night before the winter meetings end, the Dodgers filled two of their off-season needs -- a middle-of-the-order bat and a defensive upgrade in center field.

Jones, 30, hit 26 home runs and drove in 94 runs last season for the Atlanta Braves. He hit at least 25 home runs and won a Gold Glove for the 10th consecutive season.

The Dodgers are expected to move weak-armed Juan Pierre to left field, leaving Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier for right. The surplus of outfielders could make either Kemp or Ethier expendable and the Dodgers are believed to have been asked for Kemp in trade discussions for several available pitchers, including left-hander Erik Bedard of the Baltimore Orioles.

Okay, let's start with the positive. In one fell swoop (swup?), Colletti added a big bat, filled the cavernous defensive void in center field, and addressed arguably his biggest mistake from last season, the signing of Juan Pierre to a five-year, $45M deal. The Dodgers improve dramatically offensively and defensively, and that is HUGE.

Of course, it is an expensive deal (the story goes on to say that Jones' average annual salary of $18.1 million is the highest ever awarded by the Dodgers and is fifth-highest in major league history, and is surpassed only by Roger Clemens, A-Rod, Man-Ram, and Derek Jeter; that's pretty good company for a guy coming off an "off year"). But the coup here is that, so far, we haven't traded any of our prized prospects away. WOW. Nice job, Ned.

But now the bad news (potentially): who goes? Who is the fourth outfielder voted off the Ravine? Is Matt Kemp, who showed signs of offensive greatness, really tradable? Or is the odd man out Andre Ethier, who may have less offensive upside but has also has less defensive downside, as well as a longer track record? Or can we cajole anyone to take Juan Pierre, or at least consider moving him from Center Field to Left Out rather than Left Field?

My stomach is churning as I think about seeing Kemp or Ethier in another uniform. (Pierre, not so much.) But we know Ned wants another someone's shoe is about to drop...

UPDATE: MSTI ended with the exact same "shoe to drop" reference, making my post look entirely unoriginal. Sorry about that, MSTI; I hadn't seen your post first. I'd like to change my last sentence to a different cliche, as follows: "But we know Ned wants another Kemp, unwillingly and illogically, might be about to walk the plank of SS Colletti..."


Orel said...

Bravo on the headline, Sax. Now all Ned needs to do is dump Pierre and we're set.

Orel said...

The Kuroda signing will impact Pierre's future as well. If Ned signs a free-agent pitcher then we can trade JPSQ.

Orel said...

And it should be noted that even though he went .222/.311/.413 last season, Andruw still had more home runs (26) than any Dodger last year (Kent with 20).

Steve Sax said...

Yeah, let's just put Jones' "down year" in perspective here. If he was on the Dodgers last year, he would lead the team in RBI by almost a 10% premium:

Jones 94
Martin 87
Kent 79
Gonzo 68
Loney 67
Ethier 64
Nomar 59

The fact that Nomar, injured for half the season and lame for the other half, is sixth on the list, is also chilling in its own way.

IveBeenTired said...

"we haven't traded any of our prized prospects away"

Not sure if this is what you meant, but Loney/Kemp/Bills/Broxton/Ethier are no longer prospects.

Kershaw/Laroche, yes, the others are major league talent.

Mike Scioscia's tragic illness said...

No problem at all.

Well, one problem.

"Walking Colletti's plank" makes me feel confused inside.