Albert Pujols's free agency (and avoiding Albert Pujols's free agency)

So, anybody hear any good jokes lately? Or any bad ones? Or any baseball news not related to Albert Pujols meeting with the Miami Marlins today or tomorrow? I'm not a reporter, and I have no sources, and even if I were a reporter with sources I would have a hard time writing about Albert Pujols meeting with the Miami Marlins without ending it "I'm begging you." This is what free agency is like; it is conventional but not pleasant. Until news with content that can be analyzed comes out, I'm going to try very hard to think some catchy tune into my head whenever Pujols reports come up. 

So, other stuff:

Ryan Jackson is hitting .356/.441/.475 in 18 Arizona Fall League games, which is pretty nice—that's 21 hits, five doubles, a triple, and nine walks, if you're interested, coming off a basically league-average performance in AA at 23. I'm not one to look a useful offensive season from an apparently brilliant defensive shortstop in the mouth, but the Texas League and the AFL should engender at least a little skepticism at this point. 

Brendan Ryan's age-23 season—you know you were wondering about it—looks relatively similar, in hindsight; he hit .289/.349/.395 between Palm Beach and Springfield that year. The difference, if you're looking to be optimistic, is that he did it in just 92 games—Ryan the elder was in the middle of a run of injuries that cost him a year-and-a-half of development and ended with him getting called up in 2007 despite a .668 Memphis OPS in his ultimately, inexplicably successful comeback season. 

Jackson's had no such problems, and has shown more home run power (11 this year) than Ryan ever did. If the Cardinals sign Rafael Furcal to a one-year deal to man shortstop in 2012 I'd be surprised if we don't see Jackson at some point, whether he's ready or not. 

I was sad, as a member of the Hyperventilating Prospect Geek Fraternity since before Dean Strauss ever tried to get us kicked off campus, to see Daryl Jones go to the Reds as a free agent. Jones hasn't done much since emerging as DJ Tools in 2008, but he's no older than Adron Chambers and, I think, still no less likely to emerge as a useful backup outfielder. 

But Jon Jay's left-handedness complicates life for both Chambers and Jones (and also ruins my plan to push for the Cardinals signing Norichika Aoki away from the Yakult Swallows.) My current pick for backup center fielder/platoon partner is Andruw Jones; he's got an OPS of .837 over his last two years and even now could probably fake center better than, say, Allen Craig

Mating platoon outfielders is my Pujols stress reaction. If this whole process takes long enough I might manage to construct an entire 25-man roster out of them. 

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