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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Monday, December 26, 2005

Does Jacque Jones Make the Cubs Better?

(this post is duplicated from my 12/26 post at A Cub Fan Rants)

Jacque Jones was the best option available for Hendry/MacPhail, Inc. to pursue, it turns out. I stated yesterday that I didn't like the pickup of Jacque Jones. However, after further investigation, I think it was the best alternative for the Chicago Cubs within this Free Agent market.

And at $16 mil over three years, the cost is not too high. Jeromy Burnitz patrolled right field at Wrigley Field last year, and he cost the club $5 mil. His option for 2006 was $7 mil, however. The Ivory Tower simply felt that was too high for the production JB showed in '05 (.258/.322/.435, 24HR, 87 RBI, 109 K, 5 SB). For about $2 mil less, they now have the younger (30 vs. 36) Jacque Jones who posted a .249/.319/.438, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 120 K, 13 SB in 2005.

JJ also has performed better in the field than JB over his career as well (although in LF, not RF). His career FP is .986, vs. JB's .977. JJ's career RF is 2.48. Not bad at all. JB's too old to have a career Range Factor number, but I estimate it at about a 2.20. Burnitz was a fan favorite, but from what I've heard from Twins fans and reported accounts Jacque seems to be a well liked guy as well.

And, since it was a (relatively speaking) inexpensive pickup of the Free Agent wire, they don't lose any prospects or players via trade. Add that to the saving of the $2 mil (diff. between JB and JJ in '06 salary) and this deal starts looking a little better all the time.

So, how come I'm not very excited about this? Well, it's Jacque's OBP of .315/.319 over '04/'05. His career mark is .327. Doesn't shout superstar. Or even star. Derrek Lee led the Cubs last year with a .418 OBP. Matt Murton had a .386. Aramis Ramirez .358. Todd Walker .355. Michael Barrett and Jerry Hairston, Jr. were both over .333 as well. Do the Cubs need another OBP killer in rightfield?

Oh, and last season he hit a paltry .201/.247/.370 vs. lefties. Ouch. Seriously. That hurts.

What am I saying, then? I hope JJ learns to take some pitches and get on base more often. I hope the improved (?) defense overall in the Cubs outfield helps keep the ERA down for the (once) formidable Cubs pitching staff. Jacque is young enough to still be able to turn it around. In 2002 he went .300/.341/.511 with 27 HR, 37 2B and 85 RBI. I'd take that anytime. I hope Jacque finds it comfy out in RF in the Friendly Confines. I hope he gets the stick on the southpaws, cause it doesn't look like the Cubs are planning on platooning him (switch-hitting Jerry Hairston and lefty Corey Patterson are both weak against lefties as well).

Will this work out for our beloved Cubbies? Does Murton/Pierre/Jones make them better than Hollandsworth/Patterson/Burnitz? I'd say, yes indeed. If Kerry Wood can find his way back to the mound with some presence, then things might just be looking good by the time the ivy starts to green.

Cross your fingers.

And toes.


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