As another slow day at the winter meetings came to a close -- one signing, one trade -- the Los Angeles Dodgers made their best move in a very long time. Showing an appreciation of sunk costs and the value of short-term deals, the Dodgers signed center fielder
The signing was a surprise on many levels. For one, the Dodgers have made some terrible decisions over the past two years since
Consider also that the Dodgers have an expensive albatross in
Jones had some difficulty getting traction in a market loaded with center fielders. He's coming off the worst season of his life, a .222/.311/.413 nightmare, and taking criticism for defense that is actually still above average, just not at the level he played when he was younger. When you look a bit more closely at Jones' season, though, you find that many of his indicators were stable. His walk and strikeout rates were slightly worse, but within the bounds of fluctuation. In total, 2007 was a typical Andruw Jones season less 15 homers, five singles, and some intentional walks. His fly-ball rate was unchanged, it's just that the balls didn't go as far. Given Jones' age and the stability of so many elements to his performance, I'm certain that he's going to bounce back to his established level, which in a neutral park would look like .265/.330/.500, with plus defense in center. He's the player people suddenly think Torii Hunter is. [Ed. note:
I'm stunned by the length of the deal.
One year or two, this is a fantastic deal for the Dodgers, who get back-end-of-peak years from a Hall of Fame player without committing to his decline phase. Jones will bounce back in 2008, and he'll be a seven-win player over the two years of the deal. That's an enormous addition for a team that has been shooting itself in the foot for two long. What it means for Ethier or
I love this contract. It will be far and away the smartest thing any team does this winter, and it pushes the Dodgers up a little bit closer to the Diamondbacks in the 2008 NL West race.