Rejuvenated Andruw Jones leads the way as Yankees down Red Sox

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Figuring his right-handed stroke would serve him well at Fenway Park, the Red Sox pursued Andruw Jones for a part-time role over the winter. Andruw, though, had fun in his first year in the Bronx and opted to stick around, perhaps passing up some money in the process.

For a measly $2 million — one percent of the Yankees’ payroll — Jones has 11 homers this season, including four in the last three games. He delivered a two-run blast and an RBI single tonight as part of the Yankees’ 7-3 win in Boston.

The Red Sox lost three out of four in the series to fall back to .500 (43-43) with the first half over. They’re a full nine games back of the Yankees (52-33).

For what it’s worth, missing out on Jones probably didn’t hurt the Red Sox. If they had signed Andruw, it’s doubtful they would have added Cody Ross later, and Ross has hit .265 with 13 homers and 40 RBI in 56 games this year.

Still, Jones has been a bargain for the Bombers two years running now, delivering 24 homers and 55 RBI in 317 at-bats as a member of the Yankees.

Jones has played pretty strictly against lefties, but there’s little reason to think he wouldn’t be at least adequate in regular playing time. He hasn’t hit for average in limited action against righties the last two years, but he’s barely gotten to face them and he’s still showed good power against them. Also, while he certainly can’t cover ground like he used to, he’s still a pretty good defender in a corner.

That Jones has spent the last few years as a role player — he hasn’t had even 300 at-bats in a season since 2007 — could well cost him a chance at the Hall of Fame. But that’s probably not fair. As great of a defender as he used to be, he played at a Hall of Fame level at his peak. And while the fact that he’s hitting 15 homers per year now instead of 25 will hurt his career numbers,  he’s contributing more as a role player than Hall of Famers like Jim Rice, Roberto Alomar and Lou Brock did as regulars towards the end of their careers.

That said, the fact that he was done as a regular at age 30 is damning, even if he ends up getting to 500 homers. At age 35, he’s just 69 away, so he still has a legitimate shot.

Rob Manfred blames Bryce Harper for going unsigned

Bryce Harper
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.

No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.

Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:

Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.

Manfred didn’t stop there, however.

An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?