Atlanta Braves: Jonesin' for an Outfielder

Scott WeilCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2008

With the Braves Jonesin' for an outfielder, why not put a Jones in where a Jones is now out?

"Out with the old and in with the new" seems to be Frank Wren's stance as he takes over as the General Manager of one of the oldest and most successful Major League franchises. He will be the successor to his mentor, John Schuerholz, who has been promoted to president of the Atlanta Braves.


Under his lead, the Braves have lost outfielders Andruw Jones and Willie Harris, infielders Edgar Renteria, Pete Orr, Willy Aybar, minor-leaguer Chase Fontaine, and pitchers Chad Paronto, Oscar Villarreal, Lance Cormier, Jose Ascanio, Joey Devine, and minor-leaguer Jamie Richmond.


Some key additions can be attributed to Wren as well, including outfielders Mark Kotsay, Gorkys Hernandez, Josh Anderson, pitchers Tom Glavine, Jair Jurrjens, Will Ohman, Jeff Ridgway, Chris Resop, infielder Omar Infante, and catcher Javy Lopez.


Javy Lopez and Tom Glavine will be in for their second tour of Atlanta. Some of the moves were made via trade, and some were releases or free agent acquisitions.


With the departure of five time All-Star Andruw Jones, the Braves have a gaping hole in their outfield, that's for sure. A ten time gold-glove winner while roaming the outfield at Turner, Jones has compiled a career .263 BA while mashing 368 round-trippers and 1,117 RBI. Andruw had started his career for the Braves when he was 18 and now ends at the age of 30. Jones whaled home runs in his first two World Series batting appearances.


He spent his entire 12-year career in Atlanta before they decided against offering him a new contract this offseason. He was coming off the worst offensive year of his career, hitting just .222 with 26 dingers and 94 RBI.


A midseason move bringing the first-sacking switch hitting slugging Mark Teixeira to the ATL, who needed a big contract after this year, might have influenced the decision to let the Curacao native go. Teixeira's contract could be a more lucrative deal in the long run, if they do decide to offer him one.


In addition to his immaculate defensive play in the outfield, awarding him the double-digit Gold-Glove titles, including one in 2005, Jones did win the Hank Aaron, the Player of the Year, and the Silver Slugger awards, and was selected to the All-Star team, all in that same year.


The '05 campaign was the best he had ever put together. On top of all the awards he won, Jones was the runner-up in the MVP award voting. He also led the National League in home runs, RBI, and at bats per home run.


All of these numbers mean nothing to Atlanta anymore, but they all add up to one thing. Huge numbers + huge outcome + huge hole in center field = big shoes to fill.


The days of the Jones Boys, as Andruw and Chipper were affectionately known, have seemingly effectively ended now that Andruw is donning Dodger Blue. However, with another Jones eating up the minor leagues and seeing some time in the show last season, perhaps the moniker of "the Jones Boys" doesn't have to end.


Brandon Jones, a Panama City, Florida native, was listed as the number 4 prospect in the Braves' Minor League system. He led the AA Richmond Braves to the Governor's Cup championship game in the International League in 2007, which they lost to the Sacramento River Cats 7-1.


He posted a dismal .158 batting average, with one double, four RBIs, and eight K's in 19 at-bats with Atlanta last year. He shows promise and power, however, as he hit .295 with 19 bombs and 100 RBI in 138 games, with AA Richmond and AAA Mississippi in 2007.


He is considered the Braves' long-term answer in left field, but was a three-sport standout athlete in high school, thus attesting to his athleticism and ability to play center field. That being said, he is rated as the most athletic prospect in the system.


With Jordan Schafer, Gorkys Hernandez, Josh Anderson, and Jason Heyward all being possible outfield studs with Atlanta in the near future, in addition to young phenom right fielder Jeff Francoeur, whom apparently has a rocket launcher for a right arm, it will be tough to earn a spot. Not to mention that all the current left fielder, Matt Diaz, does is hit over .330 with a dozen touch-em-all’s and about 50 runs attributed to his bat.

With the acquisition of Kotsay, who is most likely keeping the center field seat warm for the heir apparent Schafer, it will be even harder for the strapping Brandon Jones, to take over for the only center fielder some Braves fan’s have ever known.