Chipper Jones sat for a wide-ranging interview with Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Among the nuggets:
- He’s spent a lot of his offseason hunting. Shocking.
- Despite what a lot of Braves fans thought last year, he wasn’t hiding an injury or anything. His season-long slump was merely a function of things not coming together. While some Braves fans may be worried about that — could it mean that Chipper is just on the decline?! — I’m not. The dude simply hasn’t had any practice hitting when all of his body parts are functioning properly, so it was a new and foreign experience for the guy. Want a good Chipper Jones season in 2010? Hope he pulls a hamstring in March that never really heals all season. He’s used to that. He’ll probably hit .309 with 27 homers that way.
- Despite just starting his three-year, $42 million extension, Jones is “on a year-to-year basis right now.” If he doesn’t produce this year, he’ll quit. Based on everything I know about the guy, I believe him. Unlike many superstars, he has a pretty full life outside of baseball. Businesses, ranches and stuff like that. He says here that he’s sick of living out of suitcases and that “there’s certain
politics that go with playing this game that I don’t want to have to deal
with.” I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Jones walks after 2010.
- As for his post-playing career, he says “I don’t think you could pay me enough money to
manage, to be honest with you [Jones laughs], after seeing what managing has
done to Bobby [Cox].” Interesting observation, but I think that may be more a function of being Bobby Cox than managing. I got to meet Cox at the Winter Meetings. He’s roughly my dad’s age — late 60s — but he seems like he’s in his 80s in many respects. Tony La Russa is only a couple of years younger than Cox and has been managing just as long, and he seems like he’s 40 (dresses like he’s 20). I imagine that, like almost every job, in managing, the stress you take is equal to the stress you make.
- Despite some lip service about moving “for the right personnel,” there’s no way he’s leaving third base. I think the Braves really screwed this one up major for Jones several years ago when they put him in left field for Vinny freakin’ Castilla of all people. You don’t move a Hall of Famer for a schlub like that. By doing so, the team soured Jones on the very idea of moving to first base at some point, to where now he wouldn’t do it unless a wormhole sent a 27 year-old Mike Schmidt forward in time to Atlanta in 2010.
I’m cautiously optimistic for something of a comeback season for Jones. Not a comeback to MVP-candidate Chipper Jones, but maybe a late-era Al Kaline kind of thing where he misses a good chunk of time due to age and breakdown but still manages to hit .300 and be productive. Will that be good enough for him to stay in the game beyond 2010? Tough call. Right now I’d say it’s 50-50.
The funny thing about that “stick to sports” stuff I was going on about the other day is that, in reality, a whole lot of the people who say “stick to sports” don’t really want to just stick to sports. They’re totally cool going on about political, social or cultural stuff as long as it fits their world view. It’s not “stick to sports.” It’s “don’t talk about the social implications of sports-related stuff in ways that upset me.” If sports and culture come together in other ways, however, they’re completely fine in grinding their axe.
For example, Beyonce is playing a concert a Citi Field this summer. The show is so popular that they added a second date. The Mets’ Twitter feed just announced that tickets will go on sale for the new show soon:
A while lotta Mets fans responded to that negatively. For political/social/cultural reasons that they are willingly bringing in to a conversation about a pop singer and a baseball stadium that will double as a concert venue:
And they go on and on.
How much do you want to bet that a whole lotta these respondents would tell you to “stick to baseball” if you wanted to bring up how race affects the sport or how, if instead of Beyonce, this was announcing a Kid Rock/Ted Nugent-headlined festival and you mused whether that was a case of the Mets somehow endorsing their messages?
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles are “making progress” in talks with free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
Gallardo has been on the market so long because he has a first round pick tied to him due to his declining the Rangers’ qualifying offer. The Orioles would have to forfeit the 14th overall pick in order to sign him. That has been too steep a price to pay for them all winter, but as we’re mere days away from pitchers and catchers reporting, it’s likely that Gallardo’s price has dropped enough to make it worth their while.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons — and had a career-low 3.42 ERA in 2015 — but his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012, suggesting that trouble could be on the horizon.
If the O’s do burn their pick to get Gallardo, it might make sense for them to go all-in with another free agent like Dexter Fowler, given that they’d not have to give up anything else to do it.
First baseman/outfielder Mitch Moreland and the Rangers have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $5.7 million deal.
Moreland requested $6 million and the Rangers countered at $4.675 million, so the two sides settled on the player-friendly side of the midpoint.
Moreland bounced back from an injury wrecked 2014 season to have a career-year in 2015, hitting .278 with 23 homers and an .812 OPS in 132 games. Arbitration eligible for the final time at age 30, he’s set to be a free agent next offseason.
We’ve posted frequently on the topic of the old Tiger Stadium site. If you’ve kept up with it you know that the site, nearly overgrown with weeds and strewn with trash before being rescued by a group of volunteers called the Navin Field Grounds Crew, is now being slated for redevelopment by the Detroit Police Athletic League.
The PAL is committed to keeping a baseball field as part of the development, but they are also, quite unfortunately, committed to putting artificial turf down over the bit of Earth where baseball legends once walked and ran.
Backlash to the plan has begun, however. Not just from people like me or the Navin Field Grounds Crew, who are opposed to fake grass, but to an actual donor to the Detroit Police Athletic League:
With an annual contribution of $50,000 to Detroit PAL’s programs, the Lear Corporation has been a major benefactor of the nonprofit for years. But in light of PAL’s controversial plan to redevelop the Tiger Stadium site with artificial turf, Lear’s CEO is speaking out.
Matthew Simoncini says that Lear is withdrawing its financial support of PAL for its mishandling of this delicate issue.
“I believe the [PAL] plan is severely flawed [and] a terrible use of resources,” says Simoncini. “[It] does not preserve this site and provides [an] unsafe playing surface for the children,”
I’m guessing $50,000 is not the sort of money that will seriously hinder a real estate redevelopment plan, but it’s good to hear someone with a stake in all of this voting with their wallet. Here’s hoping more do and that, eventually, PAL understands that there are some things more important than saving some money at the front end of a project.