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Faux French Chum

The Florida Marlins designated Jacque Jones for assignment a week ago, a move that all but should end his major league run as a full-time starter despite Jones only being 33 years old. Platooning almost is never popular with the fan base, after all you can't buy a jersey of your right fiedler if your right fielder is really two players, but in a league where so many value the situational reliever it's a bit odd that nobody really pays attention to the situational position players.

What does that have to do with Jones? Well, he was the perfect platoon player, and former Twins manager Tom Kelly knew it., the problem is it seems like most of his managers after Kelly didn't. Below I've listed the manager, year, total number of Jones' at-bats as well as the percentage breakdown by hand, and then the net OPS, which in this case was simply OPS v. RHP - OPS v. LHP.

Manager Year Total AB RHP% LHP% Net OPS
Kelly 1999 322 88 12 0.222
Kelly 2000 523 86 14 0.25
Kelly 2001 475 88 12 0.37
Gardenhire 2002 577 72 28 0.362
Gardenhire 2003 517 72 28 0.14
Gardenhire 2004 555 72 28 0.118
Gardenhire 2005 523 71 29 0.197
Baker 2006 533 74 26 0.209
Piniella 2007 453 83 17 -0.034
Leyland 2008 116 87 13 0.437

As you can see, outside of Kelly and Piniella no other manager limited Jones playing time to such extreme measures. Now it could be argued that Kelly's conservative nature in letting Jones face more than just an occasional lefty actually hurt his progression, after all the net OPS differential got smaller during the consecutive 28-29% run, although Jones was also going through his prime seasons so take of it what you will.

The point here is that the Twins, Cubs, and Tigers actually paid Jones roughly 26 million between 2003 and 2008 and, with the exception of a small sample size this season, gave him more at-bats than the average left-handed batter versus southpaw pitchers -- roughly 19% last season. Not only was he misused as a full-time right fielder, but he was paid like one too.

If Jones is to ever return to the majors it should be in a platoon only. Yes, he'd likely get most of the playing time, but if a team can get Jones for a lot less than his current salary and pair him up with a lefty masher, it could just work. Now, if only teams would realize this before spending a ton of money on a player.