I've been on the wrong side of some arguments here and on Dodger Thoughts over the past few years but nothing has been as embarrassing for me as a writer for a blog about the Dodgers then my complete support for the signing of Andruw Jones in 2008, and my unflagging opinion that he was not done as a ballplayer while he struggled all year.
Unable to find any historical comp for what occurred to Jones in 2008 I kept insisting that he was not done and could still be a productive player. While this hasn't been discussed much here on True Blue it was a constant theme at the DT blog, with D4P and Rob McMillin (writer of 6-4-2) taking complete credit for saying the Jones signing was a bad move from day one. They mostly cited his 2007 performance as the reason while I felt that the 2007 was simply an aberration. Rob has such disdain for Andruw Jones, he has paid Baseball Reference the right to sponsor the Andruw Jones page just so he can make fun of him.
Without question Andruw Jones was a complete and utter failure in 2008 as a ballplayer. He was also without question the biggest reason the Dodgers were the most exciting team in baseball last Sept. When the season started the outfield was Jones in CF, Andre in RF, with Kemp sharing time with Juan Pierre. That might have been the story for the whole season if Jones had not been so bad that Matt Kemp eventually replaced him in CF and Juan Pierre became the everyday LF. From that point on Matt Kemp proved he could play CF with the big boys and Juan Pierre proved he wasn't much of an offensive force for a left fielder.
When Jones came back he was given a few chances to prove he had something left but when he was unable to impress management so they went looking for answers and found themselves with a Manny in hand and the Dodger outfield was set in stone from that point forward. Andre in RF, Kemp in CF, and Manny in LF.
It was that configuration that allowed the Dodgers to set the league on it's ear and run away with the NL West Division.
It was that configuration that allowed the Dodgers roar through the Cubs and not only win their first playoff series in 20 years but to sweep the Cubs no less.
It was that configuration that allowed the Dodgers post the best record in 2009 before Manny was suspended.
If Jones had done his job how long would it have taken before Andre and Kemp became everyday outfielders? If Jones had done his job would he be doing a lousy job in CF while Kemp plays RF thus robbing us of the best defensive CF many Dodgers have every seen? Would Andre had been comfortable enough to go off in Aug/Sept 2008?
It took Andruw Jones complete meltdown as a player for the best things to happen for the Dodgers. Instead of derision he gets a thank you from me. I pretty much stopped reading MSTI after reading the cheap shots he continually throws in Andruw's direction. If he had not been such a total waste of a ballplayer and had actually played at his 2007 level we would not be where we are today, sitting atop the baseball world, looking down on everyone including the mighty Sox and Yankee's.
So with that in mind I rationalized the A Jones contract and wished him well in 2009 hoping he'd bounce back. At the end of 2006, A Jones had been one of the best centefielders in history both offensively and defensively and looked to be a shoo - in for the HOF. That ride hit a roadblock much to early in his career. He may be getting the best cherry picked games but he's doing something with them, and after hitting three home runs last night against the Los Angeles Angels, this is one Dodger fan who is happy for him. Those that have taken so much credit for saying that Jones was done as a ballplayer might have to re-think that line of thought. He may have been useless in 2008 but with an OPS over .900 in 2009, he's back on the map. In fact he is now sporting an OPS+ of 139 which is the highest of his career. Good thing because as a DH only against LHP he needs to hit at that level to be worth something. Sure it is Texas, and sure it is against LHP. Still I'm pretty sure that Texas management is quite happy they took a chance on him when no one else would touch him.
He knew he couldn't play in LA, so he made a deal to make his contract less of burden to the Dodgers in 2009 and who knows how much that played into allowing us to sign Wolf, Hudson, Blake, and Manny.
Good luck Andruw and thanks.
Phil Gurnee, Dodger Fan