Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Andruw Jones needs to step up

This was supposed to be Andruw Jones' comeback year. A year in which he was going to prove to all of the doubters that last year was a fluke and he is still an All-Star caliber player.

Instead, he's looking more and more like the miserable hitter he was last year.

After Monday night's game in Arizona, he is now 3-26 on the season for a .115 AVG. He's only taken 2 walks, so it's not like he's finding other ways to get on base. The season started with him hitting in the #5 spot, and now he's been moved down to #6. None of it seems to matter.

Going into the offseason, Jones was reportedly looking for a long-term deal, somewhere in the 7-year range for mega-bucks. Instead, he settled on a 2-year deal to try and shake off last year's mediocre numbers. The thinking at the time was that he would do whatever is necessary to prove that he is one of the best outfielders in the league all over again.

And then there were reports that he came into Spring Training overweight. He said he was fine, but others disagreed. Not exactly the best way to start the comeback trail.

Now there's his performance at the plate, which has been flat out embarrassing to say the least. Take a look at his 4 AB's last night: grounded out to 3rd, K swinging, grounded into a fielder's choice, and K swinging. The Dodgers' offense is already weak enough, but when their so-called "big free agent signing" is doing a big pile of nothing at the plate, it's really hard to win games, no matter how good the pitching may be.

It's still too early to call the Jones signing a bust, but it's not too early to at least talk about it. He's played his way into that talk. He has yet to hit a home run, only has 1 RBI, and is tied for the team lead in K's at 8. Rather than leading the team to a new level offensively, he's making last year's team look better.

What is Joe Torre to do? He's already faced with 2 other struggling outfielders in Matt Kemp (3-17, .176) and Juan Pierre (1-15, .067), so it's not like he other people are covering for Jones' mistakes. Does he sit him down for a day or 2? Hard to do when looking at those other numbers. The options are limited.

The bottom line is that Jones needs to step up and play ball, and fast. The National League West is way too competitive of a division to have much room to mess around. It's hard to believe they're over .500 at 4-3 right now, and they have their pitching to thank for that. Yes, it's a long season, but when you are brought in to be the big dog, you have to show your bite.

Plenty of games and plenty of at-bats remain, but Jones needs to regain his focus, maybe actually get in shape, and be a team leader. If he plays like he did last year, the Dodgers will be going nowhere once again this year.

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