Former Reds player Tracy Jones says team is two years from contention
HUNTINGTON — Former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Tracy Jones is an investment adviser who said Monday he is bullish on the Reds.
Jones, who played for the Reds in 1986, 1987 and part of 1988, spoke Wednesday to the Huntington Chapter of the Reds Hall of Fame at Fat Patty’s, 1935 3rd Ave. The former outfielder, who also played for the Montreal Expos, San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners before retiring in 1991, said he sees a strong nucleus of young position players who need supplemented by a solid pitching staff.
“I’m pretty excited about the win streak,” Jones
said of Cincinnati’s seven consecutive victories entering Monday night’s game in Atlanta. “I was telling (Reds broadcaster) Marty Brennaman about 10 days ago if they Reds were a stock, I’d buy it. I feel they have pretty good players. The pitching’s lacking, but look at the infield. It’s hard to find a better infield. They have young players coming up who are really good. I think this club is two years away.”
Jones grew up in Southern California in the 1970s rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the arch-nemesis of Cincinnati’s vaunted Big Red Machine.
“I couldn’t stand the Reds,” Jones said. “The Dodgers had a lot of great players and about twice a year my dad and I would go watch them play the Reds and the Reds would take three out of four from them. I hated the Reds.”
Jones was selected in the secondary phase of the 1983 Major League Baseball Draft by the organization he loathed. Three years later, he was the starting left fielder on Opening Day in Cincinnati, facing Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies. Jones touched Carlton for two hits and stole a base that day, but what he remembers most is the first play of the game.
“Gary Redus, who had played for the Reds, hit a fly ball to me and I missed it,” Jones said. “The fans booed. I looked up into the (Riverfront Stadium upper deck) red seats and thought, ‘Well, at least I made it to the big leagues.’ ”
Jones went on to a solid career, hitting 27 home runs, with 164 runs batted in, a .273 batting average, a .329 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage. He said, however, he wonders what might have been had he not injured his knee on the bullpen mound while trying to catch a foul ball in 1988.
“I wasn’t playing much after that and I told (manager Pete Rose) I wanted to be traded,” Jones said. “Two days later, they traded me to Montreal. If I could have one do over, that would be it. I missed out on the Reds’ 1990 World Series championship team.”
Jones touched on several subjects as he took questions from the group of about 25 fans.
• On the Reds’ outfield: “I think they’re going to blow it up,” Jones said. “I think you’ll see four new outfielders next year.”
• On the Reds’ infield: “That’s a great infield, Eugenio Suarez, Scooter Gennett, Joey Votto, Jose Peraza. Votto’s the best hitter the Reds have ever had. I know, you’ll say it was Pete Rose, but look at the statistics. And Peraza is the sleeper of that group. He was a top prospect in other organizations and he’s come on. What’s he hitting, .275 now?”
• On center fielder Billy Hamilton: “Why can’t he bunt? I played with a guy named Brett Butler who hit .290 and had 32 bunt singles. If Butler doesn’t have those, he hits .230. I hear the Red Sox are interested in Hamilton, in trading Jackie Bradley Jr. for him.”
• On coaching: “At the big league level, they don’t coach the players the way they do in the minors. You can’t push these guys making millions of dollars.”
• On Brennman, with whom Jones does a radio show: “I grew up listening to Vin Scully and Dick Enberg,” Jones said. “Marty is the best.”
• On money in baseball: “I work in the financial business and I’ve made some good investments,” Jones said. “You have to put money away. I got into the business because I was taken advantage of by my financial adviser.”