I'm a Braves fan. I've been one since the early 90s. In my lifetime of enjoying Braves baseball, you can't say much about the team's success without mentioning Chipper Jones in the same sentence.
At 38 years old, we all know the decline is rapidly picking up speed. It shows on the injury sheet. It shows in the stat line.
Chipper is batting .240 this season with 1 HR and 21 RBI. He's slugging almost 200 points less than his career average and his OBP is drops year after year.
I'm not saying it's time to completely pass the torch. It's not Chipper's time just yet. But shouldn't the Braves consider resting our aged veteran a little more than usual in preparation for a pennant race at the end of the season and a playoff run?
My proposal consists of a few ideas -- nothing off the wall, and nothing that will hurt the team:
Use him in the upcoming inter-league games at AL parks as a DH. Let him continue to work on his swing there.
Begin platooning him immediately with Omar Infante (Omar would come in to play 2B and Prado will slide to 3B). Chipper is apparently having trouble seeing right-handed pitchers. There is a clear line drawn in his splits.
Infante is batting .346 against right-handers this year.
Let Omar hit the righties and play Chipper for the lefties. Have Chipper continue his same batting practice routine. If a right-handed reliever enters the game, keep Chipper in -- use that to gauge his progress.
If the added rest doesn't help by the all-star break, get desperate. Put him back in daily. We need him to be successful this year and he'll serve to rejuvenate our team mid-season.
I've mentioned previously that the Braves hot streak is for real right now. A key reason for that is the backup play of Infante. This plan utilizes Infante's strong play more to improve the Braves through June and July while we wait for the inevitable coming of Chipper's bat.
Other teams aren't forgetting that the Braves are essentially playing without their best two hitters in McCann and Chipper who are both batting just 30-55 points about the Mendoza Line. We fans aren't either.
We can only imagine what happens if one or both of them return to form.