photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
The Omar Infante era has ended. Celebrate or weep as you see fit.
The Todd Jones deal was kind of inevitable. With Joel Zumaya in pieces on the floor, we knew we needed a closer of some sort. Jonesy likes Detroit (he had a chance to test free agency this offseason and ultimately chose not to do so). Leyland seems to like Jonesy. Barring injury, we pretty much know what to expect from him: not a lot of strikeouts, a ton of guys put on base, a lot of heart-attack style 9th innings. Obviously the Tigers decided that they were prepared to deal with all that again.
Despite his messy, messy pitching style, Jones and his walrus mustache did manage to scrape out 38 saves on the year. The save statistic is a heinously flawed one, but it’s heinously flawed across the board, and I reckon it’s at least a little telling that guys like Jonathan Papelbon and JJ Putz had 37 and 40 saves respectively. Jonesy’s ERA is LOADS worse, but in the end he did manage to actually close out a respectable number of games. He has a much smaller margin for error than some of those big K guys do, but it seems that he knows that about himself and, at least some of the time, knows how to handle it.
And hey, it’s a one-year deal. That’s OK. If it had been a multi-year deal it would NOT have been OK, but we don’t even have to contemplate that sorry thought because the Tigers front office isn’t completely bonkers. One more year of rollercoastering… if you have a pre-existing heart condition, make sure you stock up on your meds come April, ’cause you’re going to need them.
The Jacque Jones deal doesn’t seem like a bad one. As much as I secretly suspect that Omar could pull a Carlos Pena and rake with his bat as soon as he leaves, unlike Carlos he just wasn’t ever going to get that chance here. The fact that Neifi!!! was given preferential playing time says volumes… not necessarily about Omar’s actual talent level, but about Leyland’s willingness to play him, for whatever reason. So if we weren’t using him anyways…
…we gave up basically nothing to get Jacque Jones. He’s a left-handed bat, which we needed. He can play left field, which we needed, and he won’t have to play every day since he’ll probably platoon a lot with The River Thames and maybe Raburn, which will cut his injury risk down. He had a weirdly unbalanced 2007 (terrible first half, great second half) with poor power, but the power outage at least was an anomaly for him. He usually hits around 20 home runs a year and slugs around .450, while last season he hit 5 home runs (urgh) and slugged .400. He did also cut down his strikeouts significantly last year, so it just looks like a very un-Jacque-Jones-ish season overall.
I do have to admit that when I initially heard about this trade, my very first thought, before anything else, was, “Oooo, that’ll be our third JJ in 3 seasons!” Jason Johnson, Jair Jurrjens, Jacque Jones. Seriously, the first thing to enter my mind. I have no excuse.
I’m relatively happy with both these moves. The Tigs didn’t have to give up anything objectionable to get them both done, and while neither is going to rocket us into AL Central Domination territory, they should both have at least a small positive effect. Thumbs up, Dave Dombrowski.