As I flipped through the Chicago Sun-Times today, I noticed a funny caption under Jacque Jones’s picture: Strikes out a lot. It’s funny that the editors decided on that as Jones’s defining characteristic.
Calm down, Cubs fans – Jones isn’t the answer in right field. Jim Hendry might toss out the Jeromy Burnitz offer -one year, $4.5MM. But unless Jones has little regard for money or security, he won’t become a Cub. Jacque reportedly has a three-year offer on the table, and requires at least a two-year pact.
Jones and Jeromy Burnitz were essentially the same player in 2005. Solid glove, decent pop, little plate discipline. Jones may be younger than Burnitz, but he’s not on the upswing. Hendry is clearly looking to upgrade, and two or three years of Jones just wouldn’t serve the purpose.
With so many names tossed around for the vacant Cubs RF spot, I’ve provided this handy list. One of these 17 men will be in right field on Opening Day for the Cubs.
Bobby Abreu – Phils want Prior or Zambrano; out of the question.
Juan Encarnacion – Another low-OBP guy with OK power. If all else fails, it could happen.
Cliff Floyd – Hasn’t played RF since 2002; a better overall LF than Manny Ramirez in ’05. Has interested the Cubs for years, but Mets can’t spare outfielders right now.
Jay Gibbons – Still won’t take a walk; set a career high SLG. Probably not worth trading anyone for.
Shawn Green – Can and would veto a trade to Chicago.
Aubrey Huff – Recent decline worrisome; asking price (Angel Guzman?) high.
Geoff Jenkins – GM Melvin denied Jenkins trade rumors, but said the same about Overbay. Same division deal unlikely.
Jacque Jones – Lackluster option could be a Cub if Hendry gets silly and gives him two years.
Austin Kearns – Likely to stay put now that the outfielder logjam has been alleviated.
Kevin Mench – Plenty of teams are after Mench, who can play right or left field. His power would be useful, and he comes cheap.
Craig Monroe – See Juan Encarnacion.
Trot Nixon – Viable option; should be platooned with a lefty masher like Monroe or even Sosa.
Gary Sheffield – Wouldn’t happen unless Hendry gave the 37 year-old a two-year extension and dealt Pie, Guzman, or Hill.
Reggie Sanders – Probably wouldn’t accept the one-year deal Hendry might offer. Has played plenty of RF in his career though.
Sammy Sosa – As scary as it sounds, tossing Sosa $1MM to platoon with Nixon or Reggie Sanders could work out OK.
Ichiro Suzuki – Won’t come cheap and doesn’t provide power. Mariners aren’t dumping salaries this year, anyway.
Craig Wilson – Wouldn’t be pretty in the field, but the Cubs could use Wilson. Doesn’t fit in the Bucs’ plans, either.
I think the likely options are Huff, Mench, Monroe, Wilson, Encarnacion, and Jones, in that order.