Thursday, May 04, 2006

the $16 million man

after watching jacque jones get doubled off second on a flyball for the second time in three days, this page has simply seen enough.

jacque is demonstrating that he is a horrid baseball player in virtually every facet of the game. he can't hit -- at 239/288/463, jones is already posting his highest slugging percentage in three years. he can't throw -- sending sandy alomar in on jones' arm says all that could be about his well-earned reputation for ineptitude. and he can't run the bases -- and clearly, clearly hasn't got his head in the game.

first, backtrack to may 1. jones, with no one out in the home half of the fourth and leading 1-0 over the pirates, doubles to advance matt murton to third. michael barrett is then hit by a pitch to load the bases with no one out. eight-hole batter john mabry steps into this potentially game-breaking situation and skies a popfly to short left. the pirate leftfielder charges in -- the ball is clearly too well hit to fall in, and he makes a standard-issue running catch... only to look up and see jones inexplicably two-thirds of the way to third base, where murton stands ready to tag up. a toss to second, and jones is doubled up. the aborted rally is then killed by pitcher sean marshall.

jones destroyed the best scoring opportunity of the evening for this offensively-crippled club that night, and was bailed out only by the remarkable performance of marshall and murton's eighth-inning rbi single.

forward to last night. in the top of the second with one out, jones singles and is moved into scoring position by a barrett single. eighth-hitter neifi perez steps in and lines a 2-0 pitch into left -- again, the play is right in front of jones. the liner is never in great danger of touching the ground -- a neat sliding catch by luis gonzalez ensures that. but jones -- amazingly -- is AGAIN nowhere near the bag. gonzalez flips the ball back to the infield and the inning is over. arizona scores in the bottom half of the frame and never looks back.

for the second time in three days, jacque shot his ballclub in the foot with what can only be described as stupid play. it's a well-worn trope, but it bears repeating: physical errors are part of the game, but there is simply no excuse for mental errors -- especially at this highest level.

this is the same player who saw fit to use the one thing he managed to contribute to this team as a platform from which to take potshots at the fans -- for booing him, of all things.

some advice, mr. jones: get used to it. part of it is frustration with jim hendry for signing jacque to one of the great boondoggle contracts of the macfail tenure -- but that frustration has its source in finding right field to be manned for the next three long years by an untradeable $16mm liability that is clearly a downgrade from even an aging jeromy burnitz, who was at least reliable in the field and on the basepaths. that contract isn't going away, jacque isn't getting any better, and so the boobirds are here to stay.

the best that can be hoped for is that corporate egos are put aside, mistakes are owned up to, and jones is at the very least platooned away from facing the left-handed pitching which he simply can not hit despite his oversized contract. this could, at minimum, limit his capacity to damage the team.

but this page sees little reason to hope for the best here, having watched burnitz flail at lefthanded pitching relentlessly but futilely for all of 2005. just as there was no ready replacement for burnitz, there is none for jones. the unfortunate truth is that the $16mm man is here to stay.

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