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Andruw Jones in the Yankees Dugout
With the amount of pinch-hitting required for National League teams—especially those with a strong and flexible bullpen—a variety of bench players is a must.
Lefty Eric Hinske has been incredible for the Braves and is currently hitting .357 on the season and .294 as a pinch-hitter. Brooks Conrad has also proven to have some pop from the right side of the plate, but his disastrous fielding in 2010 (3 errors in the Divisional Series, tying an all-time record) and slow start to 2011 (currently hitting .125) proves that he may no longer be a viable option for the Braves.
Could Andruw Jones, the King of Strikeouts himself, really be an option for the Braves? He had the best years of his career in Atlanta, hitting over 350 homers for the Braves. He is a 10-time Golden Glover in the outfield and currently backs up all three outfield spots for the Yankees, so the potential as a defensive replacement still exists.
Outfield help is something the Braves will definitely need in 2011, and a player with Andruw’s flexibility could prove to be incredibly valuable.
Right fielder Jason Heyward has missed several games recently due to shoulder inflammation. Nate McLouth has picked up his bat after being moved to the 8th spot in the lineup, but the potential to revert back to his ugly 2010 batting average of .195 always looms over the center fielder. Martin Prado seems locked into the left field job, but he also backs up 38-year-old Chipper Jones at third, and is currently the team’s best defensive second baseman, so plenty of chances will be made available in left.
But seriously, Andruw Jones? Is he the answer?
The 34-year-old has never been linked to steroids and has been a viable offensive threat as recently as three years ago. Perhaps all he needs is a change of scenery to revert back to his old ways of punishing anyone who dares leave a fastball up and in. And at just $2 million, he’s a cost efficient option with a huge upside if utilized correctly.
As previously mentioned, the Yankees are desperate for rotation help. The Braves are just the opposite—they have too many starting pitchers.
Mike Minor and Rodrigo Lopez both currently reside in Triple-A Gwinnett and would compete to be a third or fourth starter on most clubs. Trading either of them or Brandon Beachy for Jones would not be too much of a stretch, especially if the Braves can get a couple expiring contracts, picks, or prospects in return.