It's been an amazing couple of days' worth of reading this weekend. Many people have suggested the idea that the Pirates should (in essence) just punt on 2012, by not attempting to re-sign Derrek Lee (or a similar 1B) and just leave it to Garrett Jones (or, shudder, Matt Hague), because the Pirates will get roughly the same production.
Yikes, has it really been that long since Pirates' fans have seen a true, legit power hitter (maybe Jason Bay, but more likely Brian Giles) that they forgot what they look like (or is it that the story of Garrett Jones is too nice to pass up.)?? I'm sorry to destroy any nice storylines, but Garrett Jones is not anywhere near close to even an aging Derrek Lee. They are not even in the same ballpark as hitters. Actually, they're not really close at fielding first base.
I love Garrett Jones' play as much as the next guy, but the Pirates' moves last year to cover BOTH 1B & a RF platoon partner, tell you all you need to know about the Pirates' thoughts about Jones' ability to hold down a job full-time. Has his play this year done anything to change that? Has he suddenly proved himself to be ready to be a full-time 1B for this team? Surely not.
Jones serves a very valuable role on this team. He's a great guy to get maybe 3 starts a week between the OF & 1B and be the first guy off the bench. Perhaps a continued platoon in RF, since the Pirates have a lot of good outfielders. But, with the Pirates' lack of organizational depth at 1B, not going after a 1B in the off-season makes zero sense.
And before we get all giddy about Jones, or to think he's good enough to cover for a Lee:
Jones is on pace for a .770 OPS. In his other full year, his OPS was .720. He did have that great half-season of .938, but that still puts his career OPS at .778.
People want to jump all over Derrek Lee's start to 2011 in Baltimore as being the end of Derrek Lee. It makes for the obvious storyline: Pirates jump on a guy, thinking he's going to rebound, but he's really on a steep decline at the end of his career. Don't let past happenings always prejudge your future moves. Don't be fooled: Derrek Lee is still a legitimate hitter in this league.
And Lee's stats weren't THAT bad. He hit 12 HRs and had a .706 OPS in 85 games. Baseball-Reference lists him as a 0.3 WAR for his time in Baltimore. So, funnily enough, Derrek Lee's horrific start in Baltimore is just a notch below what you get from Jones most of the time.
Just as a comparison, as a mentioned, Jones will almost assuredly set a full-season OPS high for himself this year. Let's say it remains at .770.
Derrek Lee has not finished even a half-season BELOW .770 since 1999.
These guys aren't in the same ballpark. The worst of Derrek Lee hits right about the area of the best of Garrett Jones.
This isn't a Garrett Jones hate-piece, but a reminder that maybe when it's been so long since we've seen a legitimate power hitter in a Pirates' uniform, that we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss a Derrek Lee in favor of Jones. Especially when it makes the Pirates' a much, much worse team. Keep them both!!