I have written a lot of positive things about Garrett Jones
this offseason. I have made claims that he is much better than people think and can actually be an above average league hitter if used correctly (in a platoon role). The complaints about the Pirates not signing Derrek Lee
or Carlos Pena
are foolish because the Pirates could very well get similar production out of Jones/McGehee for a fraction of the money. Maybe he doesn't deserve all these positive things, but I have at least one more to write. Sorry, haters.
For this post I just want to remind everybody that the Pirates got Jones as a minor league feee agent
. You don't just get major league starters as minor league free agents. For where Jones came from and for what they paid to get him, he has been an absolute stud.
Jones was a Twins farmhand in 2008 but was released after that season. The Pirates scooped him up in 2009 and let him go in Indianapolis where he hit .307/.348/.502 through 72 games. The team was in need of a first baseman/outfielder so they called him up and enjoyed quite a ride, as Jones hit 21 home runs in 82 games. That made a lot of people really excited about the future of the Pirates lineup with Jones hitting the middle of it. Most people were smarter to limit their expectations for a 28 year old who had spent his entire career in the minors not doing all that much, but it was a pleasant surprise.
The fact is that you only very rarely see minor league signings really help your team, and Jones has done just that. Sure, he hasn't been a great hitter. He has been awful for weeks at a time and has been frustrating to watch at times. But there are times when he looks like a monster, swatting home runs with ease. He has hit 58 home runs for this team in the last three seasons, and they got him for nothing. That's a huge positive for the Pirates.
Can you imagine what the team would have been like if they had not signed Jones? Sure, it wouldn't have mattered since we haven't had a winning season, but it would have been much uglier than it has been. Steve Pearce
would have seen a lot more time, Matt Diaz
could very well have been an everyday starter last year, and chances are they would have signed a few more scrubs to fill in that almost surely would have been just terrible for us.
There's nothing wrong for wanting somebody better than Jones, but I think we as fans lose perspective on him too often. He wasn't a top draft pick that is underperforming, he was a guy that was brought in for organization depth and has gone way past any expectations that the Pirates had when they brought him in, and that's a positive in a team that is surrounded with negativity.
The Garrett Jones loving will slow down once the season starts and I have more things to write about, I promise.