Chipper delays decision about 2011

Oh, so he's not retiring after all?

    Braves third baseman Chipper Jones now says he won't be making a decision on retirement until after the season.

    After indicating for two days he was close to announcing whether to call it a career, Jones told reporters before Thursday night's game against Tampa Bay that he won't be discussing ''the r word'' anymore until the season is over.

    Jones says he's been meeting periodically with team president John Schuerholz and general manager Frank Wren over the last six months to discuss his future. But with the Braves in first place, Jones says it's not a good time to be a distraction.

Seems like a case of the distraction calling the distraction a non-distraction, don't you think?

Call me a cynic, but I can't help wondering if Jones and the Braves simply couldn't find a mutually agreeable disposition of the $27 million that Chipper's due after this season.

He (or his agent) might believe that he deserves some or all of that money even upon retirement, if only because he's never really been paid market value for his services (well, not until this year anyway).

The Braves might respond that while Chipper has granted the club a hometown discount in past seasons, he's also earned roughly $150 million in his career and shouldn't have to worry much about paying his mortgage.

Eventually, everyone will probably settle on a figure and a vaguely described job that will "make Chipper a part of the Braves family forever," because he obviously isn't having much fun and the Braves obviously don't want to spend $27 million on a player who's not happy and they'll presumably be willing to eat some of that $27 million. It might just take some time to figure what that figure should be.

All of this is idle speculation, of course. But these things often do come down to money, and I don't think Jones would have broached the subject of retirement if he wasn't serious about it. It's too bad he couldn't keep a secret, but frustration can make a man do foolish things. For now, everybody should probably take a deep breath and just enjoy the fact that Chipper Jones, as diminished as his skills might be, is still a future Hall of Famer with a .378 on-base percentage.