Jacque Jones - Buy or Sell?

Jacque Jones, the 30 year old right-fielder, is a free agent looking for a job. Potential suitors include the San Diego Padres and the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis, Buy or Sell?, Mileur says ...

The subject of more trade rumors over the past three seasons than you can count on your fingers, Jacque Jones may have played his last game in Minnesota, at least for the Twins.

After each of the past three off seasons, Jones was thought to be gone. There were numerous trade rumors, many of them legitimate. This time, Jones is a free agent and the chances he may return to the Twins may be remote.

Jones just came off a one year deal with the Twins for $5 million dollars and it seems improbable that the Twins will bring him back next season. You have to be a little concerned about the Twins unwillingness to offer Jones a multi-year deal in 04. What do they know, that we don't?

Personally I have my doubts about the 30 year old, 5' 10" 205 pound, left-handed hitting, outfielder, Jacque Jones.

Jones sat out the last game this season for what was probably his last game for the Twins. Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire, "I asked him if he wanted to go out and play today, and he told me he's worn out mentally, he wouldn't mind sitting back and taking it all in," Gardenhire said.

I'm disturbed about a player saying he's worn out mentally in the final game of the regular season. What if he was required to compete in the playoffs through the World Series? That is what the Cardinals are going to expect from anyone signed to play right field. Traditionally the St. Louis Cardinals don't play just 162 games a season.

The bottom line is, Jones only started 130 games last season and he's worn out?

He's worn out in his final season of a contract, his walk year. Makes me concern about signing him to a multi-year deal. If you are going to do that, let's just go out and bring J.D. Drew back to St. Louis, if we want another part timer in the outfield.

Jones has his own take on his last week (most likely) in Minnesota; "In the last week of the season, I did everything I could do to go out, be productive and have a good season," Jones said. "For whatever reason, it just didn't work out for me this year like I wanted to. I take solace in the fact that I didn't quit. I never gave up and I went out every day to try to get better every day and right the ship."

Jones, who led the Twins with 23 home runs and finished with a .249 average and 73 RBIs, will be testing the free agent market this winter. Jones won't discuss what it would take to re-sign with the Twins, but it is believed he would give them a hometown discount if he could get a multiyear offer.

The Cardinals are just one team that may be interested in Jones. A San Diego native there is a definite possibility, given his talent and San Diego background that he could get a multi-year deal with the Padres.

The Cardinals could have a couple of openings in the outfield this winter, with Larry Walker expected to retire and there being some questions about the Redbirds bringing the 37 year old Reggie Sanders back for another season.

On the bench this season, were outfielders So Taguchi, John Rodriguez and John Mabry, they can all step up and between the three of them, they can play any of the outfield positions. If the Cardinals don't sign Sanders, you wouldn't expect these three players to assume the bulk of the playing at both in right and left.

You also have to take into consideration that Jim Edmonds, at 35 is no spring chicken any more and he could require more days off next season, than in the past. The Cardinals are going to have to get someone to play in the outfield for next season, rather they resign Sanders or go after a Jacque Jones or somebody else.

If the Cardinals do go after Jones, he could play in right field with Edmonds in center field and Taguchi and Rodriguez could sharing playing time in left, if Sanders doesn't return in 06.

What would Jones bring to St. Louis?

Jones led the American League in fielding in 2004 in right field. He does have some problem throwing the ball and his inconsistency could be a problem in many stadiums that don't have the shallow right-field fence.

He has tremendous bat speed and can drive the ball to all fields against right handed pitchers.

In 142 games in 05 (only 130 starts), Jones hit .249 with 23 home runs and 73 RBI. He has decent speed and is a smart and aggressive base runner. He managed to steal 13 bases this past season and hit 22 doubles and four triples.

He's no Vince Coleman, but he can get you that occasional stolen base and stretch a single into a double, at times.

Jones has a lot of natural talent and he has demonstrated that he has a good work ethic and is attentive and receptive to coaching. He has the potential to improve in may facets of his game, still at this stage of his career and playing in St. Louis could be good for him.

Jones needs to improve in the areas of his offensive production; batting average (.249), on base percentage (.319), slugging percentage (.438), if he wants to get and keep a job with the Cardinals. Compared to Larry Walker‘s numbers, who only played in 100 games this season because of nagging injuries, Jones comes up short. Walker's batting average (.289), on base percentage (.384) and a slugging percentage of (.504) all were significantly higher than Jones, while Jones' power numbers in 142 games, (42 more than Walker) 23 home runs and 73 RBI were both better than Walker's 15 home runs and 52 RBI.

The big question is, if we can make it back to the post season in 2006, is a free swinging, Jacque Jones when faced against the power and quality pitcher in the post season, going to help the Cardinals to another World Series.

My take is, that Jones will probably demand more in the free agent market than I think he is worth. I'm concerned about his mental toughness and his ability to get on base. You add that to questions about his defense and ability to throw and it raises serious doubts in my mind, about him being our answer in right field next season.

The Cardinals will have better options than Jones in 06 to play in right field, they should take a pass here and if the Padres want him, let them have him.



Ray Mileur can be reached at raymileur@yahoo.com

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