Mini Trade with Dodgers
OK, my megatrade proposal didn’t go over too well … so let’s pare it down:
Mets trade Luis Castillo to the Dodgers straight up for Andruw Jones.
Would you do this deal?
Jones’ eternal smirk drove me nuts when he wore an Atlanta Braves uniform, but I got used to Tom Glavine’s condescending facial expressions. I’ll smirk with Jones if he can hit 30 HRs again.
Which of course is the big question: is Andruw Jones finished, or is there something left?
Personally, I think Jones is poised to make a comeback — which is why am I so infatuated with Jones lately.
First of all, Jones will be in the walk year of his contract, and that, in addition to wanting to erase 2008, should be motivating factors for him this winter. One must only look to the offseason preceding his previous walk year, when he lost 30 pounds and was in the best shape of his life. It didn’t help — he had the worst year of his career — but it did prove that Jones can be motivated by free agency.
Secondly, his incredibly awful 2008 season was due more to a combination of health and internal pressure, than in any loss of skills. Jones came into spring training overweight, consequently injured his right knee, tried to play through it, had surgery, then came back from knee surgery too early, and reinjured it. For those who have never played baseball, the right knee is key for a righthanded hitter — all great hitters have the ability to keep their weight “back”, and for a RH hitter, “back” means on top of the right leg. If that leg is not strong, a hitter will transfer his weight too early to the front (left) leg, and be ahead of pitches. The swing mechanics will be affected, as well as bat speed. You can’t have bat speed without good weight transfer.
In addition to his physical health, Jones was his own worst enemy in terms of putting pressure on himself to fulfill his extraordinary contract and be “the guy” in LA. Playing outside the Atlanta organization for the first time in his life — outside his comfort zone, away from the leadership and confidence of Bobby Cox — had to affect him as well. He admitted he felt the need to prove himself in LA. It can be argued that for those reasons he might not be suited for playing in New York City. But, he would be embraced if he came to the Mets in return for fan unfavorite Luis Castillo, and wouldn’t have to be counted on to be a star — he’d be asked to bat behind Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, possibly behind Ryan Church as well. Expectations would be very low, compared to when he joined the Dodgers.
While he probably won’t hit 50 homers again, it’s not out of the question to think he’ll hit at least half that many — IF he’s healthy. Further, he has hit fifty bombs before, so it wouldn’t be shocking if hit 35. Think of it this way: where would the Mets be if they had TWO Carlos Delgados in their lineup? Because that is essentially what you have with Andruw Jones, in any year other than 2008.
There’s still the issue of convincing the Dodgers to take Castillo off the Mets’ hands in return for Jones. They should be in the market for a second baseman, as Jeff Kent is expected to walk. Re-read that sentence and understand what it means in regard to the Mets’ expected chase after Orlando Hudson. If the Dodgers acquired Castillo, it would remove them from the Hudson sweepstakes. Taking $15M off the books for 2009, in return for taking on $18M spread over three years, might give the Dodgers the flexibility to make an offer to Manny Ramirez. I’m no accountant, but I think the money men like to spread dollars out into the future if given the option.
The Manny issue would be key to the Dodgers dumping Jones, and not pursuing Hudson. Ramirez will likely require at minimum a 3-year, $75M commitment, and if the Dodgers put that out, they’ll need to shed some dollars AND find a way to fill second base … not to mention that they may try to bring back Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal, and Derek Lowe.
But then, there is Blake DeWitt, who looks like he might be able to handle second base full-time. Much depends on how confident the Dodgers are in DeWitt, and how badly they want to rid themselves of Jones — who has become as much a pariah among LA fans, if not moreso, as Castillo.