Andruw Jones celebrated his 33rd birthday in style on Friday night, slugging two solo home runs, including a walk-off shot in a 7-6 win over the Mariners.
Jones, who reportedly lost 15 to 20 pounds over the winter, is off to a fantastic start in Chicago, batting .293/.408/.756 with six home runs and nine RBI over his first 41 at-bats this season. He’s been a lone early bright spot for an offense that has combined to hit just .219/.302/.386 thus far.
Still on cloud nine following Friday’s win, the resurgent Jones told Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune the following:
“I’m way far from done. I think I can play five more years.”
It’s a nice comeback story and he certainly deserves regular at-bats in the short-term, but don’t look for this success to continue. Recognize that he’s hitting .412/.500/1.118 with four home runs against lefties, as compared to
a meager .208/.345/.500 with two home runs and 10 strikeouts in 24 at-bats against right-handers, consistent with his declining profile since his 41-homer season in 2006. U.S. Cellular Field should prove to be a pretty nice launching pad for him, but chances are he’ll be more useful as a strict platoon player before it’s all said and done.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts met the media in Mesa, Arizona today and said a couple of things that were fun.
First, he addressed the controversy that arose earlier this month when emails of his father’s — family patriarch Joe Ricketts — were leaked, showing him forwarding and approvingly commenting on racist jokes. Ricketts apologized for those serving as a “distraction” for the Cubs which, OK. He also said “Those aren’t the values our family was raised with… I never heard my father say anything remotely racist.” If you choose to believe that a 77-year-old conservative guy who loves racist emails — who once spearheaded an anti-Obama ad campaign that required a “literate African-American” as its spokesman — hasn’t said racist stuff a-plenty, that’s between you and your credulity.
More relevant to the 2019 Cubs is this:
The Cubs aren’t in the same position as some other contenders in that (a) they don’t have a cheap payroll; and (b) are not obvious candidates for the big free agents like Harper or Machado, but I still find that comment pretty rich for an owner of one of baseball’s marquee franchises in a non-salary cap league. If nothing else, it’s an admission by Ricketts that he, like the other owners, consider the Luxury Tax to be a defacto salary cap.