June 14, 2004
I want you to go to the window, open it, stick your head out, and yell: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore."
--- Howard Beale, Network
When Ron Gardenhire replaced Tom Kelly as the manager of the Minnesota Twins, one of the first things he did was name Jacque Jones the everyday leftfielder. Under Kelly, Jones had been starting against right-handed pitching, but he often found himself on the bench against lefties. Gardenhire is now in the middle of his third season as the Twins' manager and, if you know anything about how stubborn he is, you also know that means Jones is in the middle of his third season of playing every day against left-handed pitching.
Whether he's playing sparingly against them or every day, and whether Tom Kelly is writing out the lineup card or it's Ron Gardenhire, Jacque Jones simply cannot hit left-handed pitching. It's not the end of the world, of course, because plenty of good left-handed hitters can't do a thing against southpaws, but it is nonetheless a fact. The problem is that, unlike most other left-handed hitters who can't hit lefties, the Twins refuse to bench Jones.
I don't have the specific numbers, but at one point this season Jones was hitting about .330 against lefties and I was getting bombarded with e-mails from Twins fans mocking me for my continued insistence that he shouldn't be playing against them. Sure enough, just as he has after hot starts against lefties in the past, Jones went back to his old ways and is current hitting just .256/.341/.293 against left-handed pitching. And, of course, he continues to play every day, regardless of what hand the opposing starting pitcher throws with.
I've all but given up on the idea of Jones being on the bench against lefties (for some reason Gardenhire doesn't listen to me), but the other day I started thinking about just how many outs the Twins have essentially wasted by playing Jones every day, and just how many runs that has cost their offense. I don't have the math skills to get specific about how many runs the Twins have flushed down the toilet with Jones playing against lefties, but I know enough to tell you that the number is somewhere between "a lot" and "why is Aaron tying that rope around his neck?"
Chicago (Zambrano) -100 over Houston (Miller)
Chicago (Garland) +110 over Florida (Burnett)
Minnesota (Santana) -115 over Montreal (Day)
Seattle (Garcia) -120 over Milwaukee (Santos)
Toronto (Batista) +180 over San Francisco (Schmidt)
Total to date: -$2,925
W/L record: 96-134 (0-2 yesterday for -225.)
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