DOWN THE LINE
Please disregard my
most recent statistics
The Mendoza Line is not a comfortable spot for any player, let alone one with $100 million on the line.
Yet, that is where Andruw Jones finds himself, three months from free agency. He’s a five-time All-Star and a nine-time Gold Glove winner. He’s 30, and he has never been on the disabled list.
He should hit the jackpot this fall, but that batting average is glaring. Before the weekend, Jones was hitting .199, the lowest of any major league center fielder. He’s also on pace to strike out a career-high 166 times.
On the other hand, he had 14 home runs and 49 runs batted in, more than any center fielder besides Torii Hunter and Carlos Beltran.
Scott Boras, the agent for Jones, already has his pitch ready. This might be a poor year, he says, but it follows years with 51 and 41 homers and 128 and 129 RBIs, respectively.
“Look in between, and you’ll still have a guy who hits 35-40 home runs and drives in 115. For a center fielder, that’s unbelievable,” Boras said. “And he plays Gold Glove defense.”
Jones batted five times against the Dodgers on Wednesday, hitting a home run and striking out four times. So long as Jones is free from injury, Boras scoffs at the notion that poor performance this season might cost him a monster contract.
“Magglio Ordonez got a contract for $105 million, and he barely played,” Boras said.
After a knee injury that limited Ordonez to 50 games and ultimately required surgery, Boras got the Detroit Tigers to commit five years and $75 million to the outfielder, with a first-year escape clause in case the injury recurred. If Ordonez plays regularly in 2009, $30 million more in options for 2010-11 would become guaranteed.
Relishing a shot
There is this delicious possibility: Barry Bonds could set the all-time home run record at Dodger Stadium, with a shot into the all-you-can-eat bleachers in right field.
The replays could live forever. Drinks might go flying as fans scramble for the milestone ball, a veritable fountain of free soda spilled -- on the clothes of others -- in a quest for glory. Maybe Bonds lines the ball directly to one lucky fan, who misses the ball because he’s clutching a hot dog in one hand and shoving another in his mouth.
Bonds needs four home runs to tie Hank Aaron’s record, with the San Francisco Giants in town July 31 and Aug. 1 and 2. The all-you-can-eat section holds 3,000 people, with about half the seats still available for the first two games of the series and very few left for the third game, the Dodgers said.
If Bonds cannot set the record in San Francisco, then what better place than L.A.?
This was Bonds, in 2005: “Dodger Stadium is the best show I ever go to in all of my baseball. They say, ‘Barry sucks’ louder than anybody out there. And you know what? ... You’ve got to have some serious talent to have 53,000 people saying you suck.”
Sit down, kid,
I’m not done
The Houston Astros couldn’t wait for Craig Biggio to get to 3,000 hits so they could turn second base over to prospect Chris Burke. Biggio was batting .238, after all. But, starting from the night he got the milestone hit, he’s batting .483.... Troy Percival started his new career as a setup man with a flourish, earning the victory in each of his first two games with the St. Louis Cardinals.... Of the 55 position players in major league history to sign contracts for $50 million or more, only four have never made an All-Star team, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer: J.D. Drew, Adrian Beltre, Eric Chavez and Pat Burrell....The Colorado Rockies swept the New York Mets last week at Coors Field in Denver, with 34 runs and 47 hits in three games. Said Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca: “We could have had Jesus on the mound and they still would have gotten hits.”
-- Bill Shaikin