Friday, April 18, 2008

Best Bet To Be The Next Neifi Perez? Jacque Jones

First, let me clarify something. By reading the rather provocative headline that adorns this post, you could think that I have a mad on for Jacque Jones. I don't. But I don't have any real allegiance to him, either -- so I'm just going to call it as I see it.

Back during the wintry weather, when all things seem possible for any given baseball season, I crowed that the Tigers' left field platoon of Jones and Marcus Thames had the potential of giving them the equivalent of one stud of a player. I cited Jones' terrorizing of the Tigers while a Minnesota Twin, and his post-All-Star break charge of last sumer, while a Chicago Cub. Thames' stats in part-time duty spoke for themselves; his HR-to-AB ratio is phenomenal.

It may seem unfair to pick on Jones during this stumble out of the gate that the Tigers, collectively, are engaging in. He, really, shouldn't be judged as any more of a guilty party than any of his teammates. True that. But this isn't about being a monument to justice; it's about being a weather forecaster of sorts.

What we have here with Jones is what could be called a "Neifi Perez Watch." Not to be confused with a Warning, in which there's been an actual Perez sighting, and you should take cover immediately. No, a Watch means that the conditions are right, and we'll keep you posted. Meanwhile, seek out a place for shelter, should you need it.

There's something very Neifi-like going on with Jones, to me. He's the acquisition that has had some success elsewhere, but so far is swinging like a rusty gate. I only wonder how much longer before Tigers fans use JJ as their human pinata. And since JJ bats left, and most starters are right-handed, the platoon method figures to give him considerably more at-bats than the well-liked Thames. Which, right now, isn't a good thing.

Jones has contributed one decent at-bat in the first three weeks: his sacrifice fly earlier this week to help beat the Twins. Other than that he's been awful -- a punchless, automatic out who is a waste of a space in the batting order. He hasn't been the only slow starter, but the others get a wider berth because they've been here before -- and the other newcomers, Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria, are showing some life now. So that leaves JJ as the Tiger Most Likely To Be Run Out Of Town (by the fans) -- no matter how utterly symbolic his railroading may be.

Keep an eye on the Jones situation. And while you're at it, tell me that you're not getting that Neifi Feeling. How long before the Watch turns into a flat out Warning?


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