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Chipper Jones: "I'm on a year-to-year basis"

Jan 1, 2010, 2:00 PM EDT

Chipper Jones sat for a wide-ranging interview with Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Among the nuggets:

  • He’s spent a lot of his offseason hunting. Shocking.
  • Despite what a lot of Braves fans thought last year, he wasn’t hiding an injury or anything. His season-long slump was merely a function of things not coming together. While some Braves fans may be worried about that — could it mean that Chipper is just on the decline?! — I’m not. The dude simply hasn’t had any practice hitting when all of his body parts are functioning properly, so it was a new and foreign experience for the guy.  Want a good Chipper Jones season in 2010? Hope he pulls a hamstring in March that never really heals all season. He’s used to that. He’ll probably hit .309 with 27 homers that way.
  • Despite just starting his three-year, $42 million extension, Jones is “on a year-to-year basis right now.” If he doesn’t produce this year, he’ll quit. Based on everything I know about the guy, I believe him. Unlike many superstars, he has a pretty full life outside of baseball. Businesses, ranches and stuff like that. He says here that he’s sick of living out of suitcases and that “there’s certain
    politics that go with playing this game that I don’t want to have to deal
    with.”  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Jones walks after 2010.
  • As for his post-playing career, he says “I don’t think you could pay me enough money to
    manage, to be honest with you [Jones laughs], after seeing what managing has
    done to Bobby [Cox].”  Interesting observation, but I think that may be more a function of being Bobby Cox than managing. I got to meet Cox at the Winter Meetings. He’s roughly my dad’s age — late 60s — but he seems like he’s in his 80s in many respects. Tony La Russa is only a couple of years younger than Cox and has been managing just as long, and he seems like he’s 40 (dresses like he’s 20). I imagine that, like almost every job, in managing, the stress you take is equal to the stress you make.
  • Despite some lip service about moving “for the right personnel,” there’s no way he’s leaving third base. I think the Braves really screwed this one up major for Jones several years ago when they put him in left field for Vinny freakin’ Castilla of all people. You don’t move a Hall of Famer for a schlub like that. By doing so, the team soured Jones on the very idea of moving to first base at some point, to where now he wouldn’t do it unless a wormhole sent a 27 year-old Mike Schmidt forward in time to Atlanta in 2010.

I’m cautiously optimistic for something of a comeback season for Jones. Not a comeback to MVP-candidate Chipper Jones, but maybe a late-era Al Kaline kind of thing where he misses a good chunk of time due to age and breakdown but still manages to hit .300 and be productive.  Will that be good enough for him to stay in the game beyond 2010? Tough call. Right now I’d say it’s 50-50.

  1. GimmeSomeSteel - Jan 1, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    When you get down to it, we’re all year-to-year. Or month-to-month. Or day-to-day.

  2. Old Gator - Jan 1, 2010 at 3:03 PM

    It would be inspiring indeed if Chipper said, you know what, I’ve had a great career and I’m calling it a day before I embarrass myself. I saw the revenant that used to be Willie Mays play for the Mets in 1973 and it just broke your heart. And how many other guys have we seen let their delusions (or finances) get the better of their dignity over the years?
    Of course, if we got rid of that featherbedding atrocity known as the designated hitter, we’d see a lot less of that sort of thing too.

  3. Jay P - Jan 1, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    Hmm… A Hall of Famer? If he has 3 more seasons of 20/100 then certainly. If not, then I don’t know. He hasn’t reached the typical plateaus. But then again Jim Rice was rather far from the typical Plateaus. eh.

  4. GimmeSomeSteel - Jan 1, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Gator, that’s known as the “George Brett Path to Retirement”, and other than George and a few others I can think of (Johnny Bench, Cal Ripken Jr.), few take it. “I’m still good, I can still play well enough, but not well enough for me, so I’ll call it a career now”. Most go out on a slow slide, or a fast one for guys like Mays, Steve Carlton, etc. The money and the fame are just too alluring for most players, no matter how much their skills have deteriorated.

  5. frug - Jan 1, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I think part of Jones’ problem last year was simple matter of workload. He played 143 games last season after averaging 120 over the previous four seasons. He was maintaining a OPS over .900 all the way into mid August at which point he simply seemed to start breaking down.

  6. Ryan - Jan 1, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    I really hope Chipper stays around for a few more years. I’m not really a Braves fan, but I fully utilized the TBS saturation of Braves games in the early nineties and every time one of the players from that era retires, a little bit of the 10 year old in me dies. 😦

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