Friday, June 16, 2006

Jones is nearing the end

Todd Jones wants nothing more than the Detroit Tigers to win. You can hear it in his voice and see it in his eyes.

Jones is the only player this past decade to sign with the Tigers simply because he wanted to wear the Old English D. He considers Detroit to be his home, and the fans to be his own.

But those same fans reached the breaking point Wednesday night, after another terrible late-inning performance by Jones, something that has become all too common recently with the Tigers.

As Jones exited the mound in the 12th inning, where he allowed four runs on four hits to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays en route to their 5-1 win, he was not so pleasantly greeted by a lengthy wave of boos from the remaining crowd at Comerica Park.

Jones’ record fell to 1-5. His ERA now stands at an abysmal 7.27.

This is the latest in Jones’ recent string of bad pitching which has become increasingly painful to watch.

For the 38-year old closer who is the Tigers all-time saves leader, the end is near. There are two young relievers (Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya) ready to step in once manager Jim Leyland finally pulls the plug on Jones as closer.

And this should be sooner rather than later.

Leyland is sticking behind Jones as the closer, a sign of respect as I see it. Leyland has been around long enough to know when a player’s skills have eroded and are betraying him from success.

He is also being very careful not to embarrass Jones. Todd Jones is one of those guys that you couldn’t pay a teammate to say something bad about. He loves the game, and he loves to compete.

The worst thing Leyland could do at this point in time is publicly scrutinize the veteran closer and prevent him from being any kind of asset to the team down the stretch.

I still believe in certain situations, Jones can be effective. Those situations are not saving games.

Leyland insists that Zumaya, 21, is not ready to assume the closer’s role, but I could see changes being made sometime after the All-Star break. Leading all A.L. relievers with 43 strikeouts, Zumaya may not be ready for a full-time position, but it would not hurt to sprinkle some save opportunities for him

It’s tough to see Jones struggle the way he has recently, where his ERA is above 15.00 his past seven appearances.

It’s even tougher with the weight put on the Tigers to win close games, now that they are in the middle of a pennant race.

Jones’ skills, not Jones, are letting the fans down, and that’s the last thing he wants to do.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

washed up.