The Reds signed outfielder Jacque Jones and first baseman Daryle Ward to Minor League contracts on Thursday. The deals came with invites to big league Spring Training.

Jones, who spent most of his career with the Twins and Cubs, played 42 games last season combined with the Marlins and Tigers and batted .147. Ward played 89 games for the Cubs last season and batted .216.

Both Jones and Ward are 33, and both are left-handed hitters.

Ward I like, as a lefty off the bench. Jones worries me. He’s in a clear decline, and he seems like exactly the type of player Dusty Baker would love to stick in left field five days a week.

They are minor league invites, so there’s little risk (other than Dusty-related concerns). It will be interesting to see how they look this spring.

24 Responses

  1. Mark in CC

    Good signings. I must admit I am more excited about Ward than Jones and wouldn’t have said that two years ago.

    One will make the team. My bet is Ward for his ability to pinch hit.

  2. Phill

    Yea I see Ward being the only guy out of those two to make it to the team. It’s surprising that Jones hit well playing in Mexico but really I doubt he’ll do much for the Reds barring an explosive spring training.

  3. KY Chip

    Jim – I couldn’t find anything in Jones’ past couple of years that would suggest a serious injury.

    Maybe it was his eyes that have caused such struggles at the plate recently. In that case, let’s hope he had a great lasik surgeon.

  4. David

    Chad, Jones isn’t in “clear decline” he “clearly” had a God-awful year offensively last year, but in 2006 and 2007 he played very well and still played a solid CF.

    He had laser eye surgery.

    He hit .314/.349/.449 in 188 ABs in the Mexican Pacific League this winter.

  5. KY Chip

    True, Jones was awful at the plate last year. However, as David said, his 2006 and 2007 numbers are pretty comparable, though.

    He suffered a major power outage (from 27 HRs to 5 in only 80 fewer ABs), but his AB and OBP were essentially identical.

    I was being serious in my previous post about the possibility of an eye issue that troubled him last season. Maybe the lasik did the trick.

    Let’s hope those numbers from the Mexican League are an indication of what he’ll do in Spring Training in a few weeks.

  6. KY Chip

    Oops — should be “his BA and OBP were essentially identical”, not AB.

  7. Chad

    Ummm…but he was bad in 2004 and 2005 and 2007 and 2008. He’ll turn 34 in April. That looks like a classic end-of-career decline to me, with one outlier season that was slightly above average. I’m not sure why we should expect the 2006 Jones when it’s much more likely that we’ll be getting a declining version of the 2004-5-7-8 Jones.

    David says he “played very well” in 2007. An 87 OPS+? No thanks.

    And forgive me if I don’t consider 188 ABs in the Mexican Pacific League as very convincing. Small sample size against less-than-stellar competition.

    I hope I’m wrong, but it looks an awful lot like Jones’ days as a starter are finished. It appears that I’m not the only one who thinks that, as Jones couldn’t get a major league deal from anyone else.

    Perhaps he can help the team as a fourth or fifth outfielder. That’s the upside of this signing (and I never said I was against this deal). I just worry about Dusty playing him too much.

    Unless we’re going to be blind optimists here — and I’m all for that; hope is what baseball is about! — I can’t see how you can look at Jones’ last five years and think he’s in anything other than a clear decline.

  8. Chad

    I will concede, though, that the Lasik may help. Of course, I still can’t see someone who has had exactly one above-average year in the last five seasons all of a sudden becoming an above-average hitter.

  9. KY Chip

    Chad — I’ll give you that Jones is getting on in years and that he’s no longer an everyday OFer, but no one is saying that he’s suddenly going to become an “above-average hitter”. No amount of at-bats in the Mexican winter league is going to do that, as you pointed out.

    However, should he regain some of the power he suddenly lost in ’07, he could be a good pick-up for a 4th/5th OF and PH.

    At best, Jones regains his stick and joins a LF platoon with an equally resurgent Jonny Gomes (I did say, “at best”, remember). At worst, he comes to Florida, shows that last year was no aberration and gets his walking papers.

  10. Chad

    I pretty much agree with that, Chip, and it’s sorta what I have been saying.

    Only thing I disagree with is this: “At worst,” Jones plays like the crappy player he’s been for four of the last five years, and Dusty Baker still plays him five or six days a week. THAT’S the worst case scenario.

    I will never complain too much about someone who is slated to be a bench guy. Jacque Jones couldn’t kill the team too badly as a fifth outfielder. It’s the Dusty factor that scares me.

  11. Deaner

    Ward off the bench as a PH is good. As for Jones… ehh… I would honestly rather see Chris Dickerson get the playing time in left.

  12. rpa

    yeah, patterson was a minor league contract, too.

    jones smacks of being a “dusty signing” to me. here’s hoping he turns out to be more hairston than patterson.

    ward, i don’t know. at first i had the same reaction, but the more i think about it, he kind of fills a need or two

    1) left handed bat off the bench
    2) backup 1b

    so in that sense, uh, i guess.

    and when the reds best move of the offseason is either signing ramon hernandez or signing daryle ward… well, i think 2010 looks a lot like 2009.

  13. Steve Price

    Ward signing is a good power bat off the bench.

    Jones signing is a mistake, and a Dusty Baker “veteran” approach waiting to happen.

    That being said…Bill James says that Lasik surgery may have had the biggest impact in the game in the past few years, and just the other day said it may be a primary reason that a player’s prime age has increased from age 27 to age 28.

    These guys are past 28….if it’s bench and part-time help, it’s worthy. Somebody will get hurt…

  14. rpa

    that’s some work-induced brain-deadness going on.

    i mean to say that 2009 looks a lot like 2008

    (for financial forecasting purposes, though, i say 2010 looks a lot like 2009…)

  15. Jimmy James

    What about the fact that Jones only has 6 homers in, what? His last 600 ABs?

    Was all of that post-Mitchell Report?

  16. David

    Chad I considered posting this before so let me clarify. I’m not at all suggesting that Jones is an All-Star or that he is even going to make the team.

    But the numbers aren’t a progressive decline. In 2006 and 2007 he had the same BA and OBP. He also had the same number of doubles.

    For some reason in 2007 his HR total fell off a cliff. Then he had an awful season in 2008. It caused people to say “what the heck happened to Jacque Jones.”

    Detroit was psyched to get him for Infante because he absolutely mashed post-All-Star break in 2007.

    All I am saying is that this is a relatively good low risk high reward signing and is not even close to the type of I-just-threw-up-in-my-mouth-a-little-bit signing.

  17. Tartan

    I’d rather see anyone get burn in LF than Norris Hopper. Nobody has bunt hit their way to the playoffs in a long time.

  18. Chad

    Well, I never said it was a throw up in my mouth signing. Did I?

    As for whether it’s “a progressive decline,” I think that’s unnecessary splitting of hairs. Four of his last five years have been bad. He’s 34. I see no reason to believe he’ll be anything more than a fifth outfielder-type.

    I don’t have a single problem with Jones being the fifth outfielder on the Reds in 2009 — independent of the Dusty Baker factor. That’s what has me worried.

  19. BenL

    Really? I’d take the Norris Hopper of two years ago over any of the other options for lead off hitter. Is Hopper today the same as he was two years ago? Probably not, but I hope so.

  20. KY Chip

    Chad – you’re right on the “worst case scenario”. For a moment there, I forgot who’s filling out the lineup cards.

  21. KY Chip

    Just spotted this a few minutes ago and I don’t think it had been mentioned here yet. has updated their Jones signing news to include the following info from the Denver Post:

    “The Reds added Jacque Jones on a $600,000-minor-league deal. The outfielder can request his release if not on 25-man roster between April 3-5.”

    Just throwing that out there…

  22. brublejr

    Ward is an Ok bench player and some nice power off the bench, but he really can’t play the field much. Jones can play the field Ok, but he really has lost a lot at the plate. Jones is a terrible signing considering that Dusty is the manager. If anyone else was managing it would have been a decent signing.

  23. Jose

    I actually love both moves
    at least they have more to look at….
    instead of Taveras being our “Savior”