Hello again everyone. I’m coming to you today from the gorgeous confines of the Flint, Michigan airport, as I make my way to New York.
Scanning my sources, I haven’t seen the confirmation that Chipper Jones will play tonight, but it seems to be a lock. The question that is starting to be bandied about is this: How long can the Braves expect Chipper to stay? This becomes important as the team evaluates it’s trade options. Will they have Chipper next year or will they have $15 million or so to play with?
Having spoken to Chipper casually on this topic a couple of times, I believe that Chipper will play as long as two things happen: 1) He has to play at a high level by his personal standards and 2) He has to be having fun. Notice that winning a championship is not one of the criteria he relayed to me. While that would obviously impact the fun he’s having, I don’t think that “going out on top” is critical to him. I do think that his family’s perspective will be important to him. If his sons want to experience the big league lifestyle a little, now that they’re getting old enough, I think that would be fun for him. If, on the other hand, he gets a lot of pressure to stay home and be “Dad”, that would not be fun.
As far as the ability to play, I personally think it’s still there. Remember that offense is down all around. Even on one leg (maybe less:-) ), he has been one of the best third basemen in the league. We’ll see, but I think Chipper will put up Chipper-esque numbers in the last 60 games.
I think we all know that Fred Owens thinks this will be Chipper’s Last Stand. I think Chipper will play out his contract, manning third base in 2012 for Atlanta. I’ll post a poll right now. Vote on whether you think he’ll play next year, and let us know why. And let’s all watch him hit one out tonight!