Garrett Jones (46) days until Opening Day.
The subject of trade rumors this offseason, Jones is expected to be with the Bucs again after a big year in 2012.
Three questions about number 46…
1. How much longer will he be a Pirate? Staying on the topic of trade rumors, many expected Jones to be dealt before the upcoming season. A big raise that doubled his salary and a plethora of first base/corner outfield options pointed to a possible departure. While a trade is still possible (doubtful), it looks like he’ll be with the club after all. Still, Jones probably won’t be with the Pirates much longer, as he turns 32 in June and has some obvious weaknesses.
2. Will he step up against left-handed pitching? The most glaring weakness is his inability to hit lefties. He’s a career .198/.237/.353 hitter against southpaws; even in his solid 2012 campaign, he was even worse at .189/.235/.297. If he struggles against lefties in 2013, the Bucs have a couple viable platoon options.
3. How exactly will Clint Hurdle use him? It’s tough to keep the $4.5 million man on the bench, but then again, he struggles mightily against southpaws. As mentioned above, the Pirates could platoon him, as Gaby Sanchez and Jerry Sands both hit left-handed pitching much better than they hit right-handed pitching. Jones could be very useful as a power bat off the bench late in the game, and it’ll be interesting to see how they use him. Bob Nutting and the cost-conscious front office will most likely want their money’s worth out of their fifth-highest paid player, however.