I remember when I opened a pack of baseball cards and saw a draft choice card for Chipper Jones by the Atlanta Braves. This was when I was a junior in high school; I’m now 38-years old. Jones didn’t disappoint throughout his 19-year career. With a career .303 batting average, 468 home runs, 1,623 RBI and 2,726 hits, Jones appears to be on his way to the baseball Hall of Fame as one of the best and most consistent players of his era.
Despite playing 19-years, Jones battled several injuries over his career. If he would have stayed a little healthier, it is my belief he would have easily had 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Even with those limitations, Jones was one of the league’s most feared switch-hitters and a five-tool player. I’ve been honored to see Jones play baseball.
But the show must go on, and the Braves are still a very strong and competitive team. Juan Francisco appears to be the front-runner to replace Jones at third base. While he’s shown some amazing strength and flashes, he’s no Jones. The good news, though, is that the Braves don’t need him to be Jones – they just need him to not be a disaster. I would not be surprised to see the Braves open up competition at the hot corner, but the team has a strong track record of filling in needs, and whatever do decide to do with the position will likely not be a patchwork solution.
As a Chicago Cubs fan, I am very jealous of the Braves. As far as I am concerned, they’re one of the model organizations in baseball. In addition to spending money effectively on free agents, they’re good at producing their own talent. It says a lot about this organization.
It will be really strange to see the 2013 Braves without Jones. However, I am sure this team will be right there near the top at the end of the season.