Sunday, July 7, 2013

Still Golden

2004 Upper Deck/Chevron Clean Outta Here #1 Andruw Jones

Context, they say, is everything.

If someone were to say, "Andruw Jones...outta here," I might think they were watching a highlight of the Curacao native hitting one of his 434 career home runs. Perhaps they're speaking of him leaving the States to play baseball in Japan. Or, sadly, they might be referring to his wife- who filed for divorce after Jones' Christmas Day, 2012,  battery arrest and threats he (allegedly) made on her life.

Any of those three answers would certainly suffice, but in this instance, I'm talking about this sweet oddball from the Upper Deck Company.

Cards in Set: 12
Issued: Regional/Midwest. 1 card per-pack, free with a purchase of 8 or more gallons of fuel.

Still Golden 
Well, at one time 'Druw was the Golden Child. At the age of 19, he homered in his first two World Series at-bats (coming, of course, in Yankee Stadium!). Ten consecutive gold-gloves. Franchise-record 51 single-season home runs. Then came his abysmal free-agent year (2007)-his final one in Atlanta- in which he hit .222 and 'slugged' .413- and yet still got a huge payday from the Dodgers. After that, well, who knows what happened to his game. He never was a patient hitter, but it seems his pitch recognition got worse; it got to the point that he would chase after anything. The weight went up. Skills eroded over time. It was a steady decline- and then one day he found himself as a part-time player whose greatest attribute- his defense- couldn't even find a place in the lineup.

It might sound crazy, but he's still golden. A Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagle, that is. The Gold-Glove caliber defense? It's nowhere to be found; Andruw's been used primarily as a DH, while playing twelve games at first-base. He did homer last night, though. His stats thus far in the Japanese Pacific League:  .238   14 HR  41 RBI  56 BB  81 K

And now, after this trip down memory lane to the present, I can't help but think that A.J.'s bat would feel right at home on the 2013 Braves team.

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