As nice as it is to see a guy be rewarded for persistence, Garrett Jones should not be mistaken for a good player, and the last thing I'd want to see is a Tike-Redman-2003 situation where Jones gets off to a hot start, then gets way more playing time than he should for a year or so after that.
"I'm getting excited about our lineup, to be honest with you, and that has a lot to do with Garrett," Russell said. "Once we get Doumit back, and he's on his way, I think it's going to be interesting." Of Jones specifically, Russell added, "He could be one of those guys who just hasn't been given the opportunity. We think he looks really good, and we're looking forward to seeing more."
No. No no no. Nuh uh. For anyone familiar with Class AAA baseball (and you'd think that Russell, a former AAA manager, might be one of those people), Jones is so familiar he's practically a caricature--the big, defensively challenged slugger who isn't quite good enough as a hitter to make an impact in the bigs but who puts up some superficially impressive numbers at AAA just by virtue of being there for so many years. Every year the Pirates have a couple of these guys at various levels of the system. Jones is just Graham Koonce with fewer walks. He's Brad Eldred with less power and fewer strikeouts. He's Randy Ruiz playing at a higher level. He's Adam Boeve. Ryan Mulhern. Chris Richard. Andy Abad. John Barnes. I'm sure Jones is a nice guy, but as a player, he's a cliche.
Of the twenty players listed as comparables on Jones' PECOTA card (subscription only), the only one who made any sort of impact in the big leagues was Luke Scott. The reason is simple: players like Jones put up decent hitting numbers in AAA, but they're only decent, and they're doing it in the prime of their careers, not at young ages when you might reasonably hope they'll get better. They also don't bring anything to the table defensively, so if they aren't very good big league hitters, there's no reason to keep them around. Jones' yearly OPS in the International League is about .800; I don't have the equivalencies in front of me, but that would come out to be about a .700 OPS in the majors, which won't cut it for a player of his type.
Jones had a great game yesterday. I get that. If this is the sort of excitement Russell needs to get him through the day, fine. If he wants to take it into account for a while as he sorts through a bunch of uninspiring corner outfield options, I guess that's also fine for now. But let's not go too far here. I suppose anything's possible, but there's really nothing in Jones' minor league record that says he's going to be helpful as anything more than a bench outfielder.