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Has anyone fallen as fast as Andruw Jones?


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Los Angeles Times

BILL SHAIKIN / SUNDAY REPORT

August 3, 2008

Andruw Jones hit 342 home runs before he turned 30.

Manny Ramirez hit 277 home runs before he turned 30.

It is sobering to realize how quickly Jones has fallen from greatness. He turned 30 just last year.

His career might be over. Jones and the Dodgers owe it to each other to do their best to find out.

The Dodgers ought to ask Jones to go to the minor leagues, and he ought to say yes.

He was supposed to be the Dodgers' big bat. He hit a career-low .222 for the Atlanta Braves last season. He hit 26 home runs, which would have led the Dodgers but represented his lowest total since his rookie season of 1997.

In desperate need of a power hitter, the Dodgers signed him to a two-year, $36-million contract last winter, essentially betting he would maintain his pop even if his batting average did not recover.

He is hitting .161, with two home runs. He strikes out almost four times every 10 at-bats.

He is no longer supposed to be the Dodgers' big bat. The Dodgers imported Ramirez for that role Thursday, with Jones sentenced to the bench.

The Dodgers are not helping Jones, or helping themselves, by keeping him in L.A.

He has no business taking at-bats from Andre Ethier, the Dodgers' other backup outfielder. If the Dodgers really need a fifth outfielder who can serve as a defensive replacement for Ramirez or Juan Pierre, then Jason Repko is a phone call away.

Jones isn't going to help the Dodgers win the National League West this season. They ought to figure out whether he can help them win next season.

They can't do that unless he plays every day, so they can tell whether his knee is getting stronger and his swing is getting better. They need him to get four at-bats every day, so he can apply the remedies prescribed by hitting coaches Don Mattingly and Jeff Pentland.

Manager Joe Torre said the idea of asking Jones to go to the minor leagues has not been discussed.

"I'd like to see some way we haven't thought of to help him," Torre said. "As far as the minor leagues, I don't know what we're allowed to do.

"It doesn't really work unless the player is going to buy into it."

The Dodgers cannot send Jones to the minors without his consent, because he has more than five years' service in the majors. They ought to call him -- and his agent, Scott Boras -- into a meeting and ask for that consent.

The Dodgers would tell Jones they have not given up on him for next year, that a few weeks in the minors could only help. They would invite him to pick the minor league affiliate for which he would like to play -- maybe at triple-A Las Vegas, maybe close to his Georgia home at double-A Jacksonville, maybe close to Dodger Stadium at Class-A Inland Empire.

They would send Pentland with him, assigned as his personal hitting coach. And they would promise to recall him when rosters expand Sept. 1, with his postseason eligibility preserved because the Dodgers would have the loophole option to submit a playoff roster with Tony Abreu's name and substitute Jones for the injured Abreu.

Ned Colletti, the Dodgers' general manager, said he has not decided whether to ask Jones to go to the minors.

"I don't know," Colletti said. "It's something I'll have to talk over with Joe, to see what his thoughts are, see what our hitting coaches' thoughts are, see what Andruw's thoughts are.

"We have to get Andruw right."

Boras would not entertain the question of whether Jones might be better off spending a few weeks in the minor leagues. He agreed to speak to the question of how he believed the arrival of Ramirez would impact Jones.

"I'm excited about Manny and Andruw talking hitting," Boras said.

"It's a matter of time. We all know that. The skills are there. He's got to get that consistency back. When he does, I'm sure Andruw will be back in center field."

There is no way for Jones to recover that consistency -- or, at least, to try to do so -- sitting on the bench. Hitting is timing, and timing is difficult enough to maintain with four at-bats every day, nearly impossible with four at-bats per week.

He needs to get away from Dodger Stadium, at least for now. He does not need constant reminders that he has not hit a home run here this year. Ramirez already has one. So does CC Sabathia.

Jones is a proud man, and justifiably so. His career has been exceptional. He did not come here to sit on the bench, to watch a pennant race go on without him, or to go to the minor leagues.

But the Dodgers have given him every chance to succeed this year. Now they ought to give him his best chance to succeed next year, and he ought to take it.

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Sad to see. He is certainly in the discussion of best defensive CFer ever and a case can be made for being the best. As for offensively, no way, though before these past couple of years he was way better than he was given credit for. I really don't know what's happened to him but Dale Murphy kind of lost it all at once too. Probably not quite as spectacularly though. I feel bad for Andruw. He was my favorite Brave for years. I used to watch him in the minor leagues a little....he wasn't there long! ;)

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Defensively Andruw can hang with any OF in history. There's nothing crazy about calling him the best. Offense and defense he's a lot lower on the list.

not really. if you look at the numbers he has by hte age of 30 he actually was on a better pace then mays...**** I think he hit more home runs by the age of 30 then Hank Aron OR bonds ( if not more it was very close)

in terms of power and defense Jones imo could be considered the greatest of all time..........true his average was not there but power numbers were nuts

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The one thing you can say about Andruw is until this year you could count on him to be out there every day. With Griffey you don't know if he's going to play more than 100 games in a season.

Exactly. He has been incredibly durable at a physically demanding position. If he had kept up his pre-07 offensive pace four five or six more year he would be a HOF lock. Big if, of course. I can't believe he is through yet.

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There's more to offense than just HR. If you want to compare Andruw with Bonds: Andruw hit 51 HRs in 2005 with a line of .263/.347/.575. The year before that (Bonds only played 14 games in '05) Bonds hit 45 HRs with a line of .362/.609/.812.

you are right......and I said his average was not there but compare Andruws homers, rbi, doubles etc ie the "power numbers" with those of the of theall time greats by the time they were 30 and you will see just how good offensively he was.......yes his average is lower then it should be but again when you factor in he average 30+homers and 100+rbi as well as a big number of doubles every year for **** near a decade.......... he was on pace to be THE greatest overall center fielder ever .

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hiring boras was the smartest thing Andrew ever did, Boras gets his players paid even when they dont have talent or mysteriously lose the talent they had like Andrew has done. Andrew will be very Rich now for the rest of his life, Why should he care if he cant hit a breaking ball, afterall he never could .......................

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So was Griffey until injuries started killing his career.

Probably true. Think about this...Andruw could probably sit out for two solid years and still have played as many games as Griffey at the same age. I''m just guessing here but Ken has missed a ton of games. big chunks of seasons. Andruw hardly ever missed an inning. Means a lot.

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you are right......and I said his average was not there but compare Andruws homers, rbi, doubles etc ie the "power numbers" with those of the of theall time greats by the time they were 30 and you will see just how good offensively he was.......yes his average is lower then it should be but again when you factor in he average 30+homers and 100+rbi as well as a big number of doubles every year for **** near a decade.......... he was on pace to be THE greatest overall center fielder ever .

His power numbers are less impressive when you consider his averages. If you swing for the fences every time up you should hit a lot of HR. When you have a ton of RBI chances you should have 100+ RBI. No way was he on pace to be the greatest.

Willie Mays 162 game average:

.302/.384/.575 - 36 HR - 28 2B - 103 RBI

Andruw Jones 162 game average:

.260/.339/.489 - 33 HR - 30 2B - 100 RBI

Power numbers are similar, but the percentages make Mays' 10x more impressive.

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