Adam Jones Has Been A Great Oriole; He Shouldn’t Be Back In 2019
One of the primary frustrations of the 1998-2011 era of futility, was how much time was wasted by the Baltimore Orioles not rebuilding correctly.
That began to change before the 2008 season when the Orioles traded Erik Bedard to Seattle, and brought back the package headlined by Adam Jones, and Chris Tillman.
Jones had got into a combined 73 games with the Mariners in the ’06 and ’07 seasons; but became a Major League regular for the first time upon joining Baltimore in ’08.
Since that point, he’s been a fixture in Baltimore. A total of 1,565 regular season games played in an Oriole uniform through last night. Over 6,200 ab’s wearing the Orange & Black.
The ’08, ’09,’10, and ’11 Orioles won 68, 64, 66, and 69 games.
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So when he signed his 6 year extension early in the 2012 season, that was a leap of faith.
He made a commitment to Baltimore. When the deal was announced, many of his teammates were on-hand. So was a youth baseball team he sponsored.
Among his comments that day, “I fit here in this city. I fit here on this team. I fit in Camden Yards. I don’t see myself wearing another white uniform that doesn’t have Orioles across the chest. I’m not from Baltimore. This is now my town. A lot of these kids look up to me, and I am a role model. There’s a bigger goal here, I believe, and that’s winning games.”
Take away everything Jones has accomplished between the white-lines, and I’ll always admire Jones for pledging himself to this City, and doing what he could to make a difference.
On the field, I think Jones and the O’s reaching that agreement, only helped the ’12 Orioles end their long streak of consecutive years of finishing under .500; and reaching the post-season for the first time since ’97.
With the O’s finishing in last place last year, and currently being stuck on under 30 wins here in late July; it’s become fashionable to dismiss what the 2012-16 Orioles accomplished. For a 5 year period, the O’s had the best cumulative record in the American League. They reached the post-season 3 times. (And please, stop saying the 2nd Wild Card doesn’t count.)
By record and accomplishment, it’s the most successful stretch for this franchise in decades. When you think back on the group that compiled those teams, it will be hard to not think about Jones pretty much first. Those were gutty teams, that showed up ready to play most days, and played hard. You’ll remember Jones going into 2nd hard trying to break up potential double plays. You’ll remember that Jones was there, patrolling CF. You’ll remember a professional group of guys that played with pride. The example Jones set to his teammates had a lot to do with that. It’s cliche now, and frankly an irritant among O’s fans given these last two years, but Jones using social media to say, “Keep grinding, or Stay Hungry,” we’re how these teams played.
Jones will not end his career enshrined in Cooperstown. He’s not Frank, or Brooks, or Jim, or Eddie, or Cal.
But Adam is in the next rung of all-time Orioles. Obviously he’ll be part of the Orioles Hall of Fame, and if you put together an inner-circle of those in the O’s Hall of Fame, he would define that group.
When the 5x All-Star, and 4x Gold Glove signed his extension in ’12, he included a No Trade Clause.
If the O’s want to move him before the Non-Waiver Deadline Tuesday; he has to agree to the trade.
Logically that seems like an easy decision.
The next day (Wednesday, August 1st) Jones turns 33. The time remaining in his career is running short. Moving on to a team which has a chance to contend for post-season glory this Fall, vs. being on a team currently 45 games under .500 would figure to be appealing.
Clearly though, Jones is dealing with conflicting emotions.
He’s been quoted in recent days asking who would pick up the slack of the charitable endeavors he has worked on locally. Just that thought crossing his mind is extremely laudable. It can’t be part of the decision making process here for the Orioles or Jones though.
Presumably the recently reported dining with John Angelos was to provide clarity on where the O’s are going.
If Jones is an Oriole August 1st, that is a mistake and missed opportunity for both the O’s and Jones. Not that the O’s will get much for Jones, or that Jones is guaranteed at anything beyond 2 months on a better team – but the O’s need to get back youth and team control, and Jones deserves the chance to try and get back to the post-season.
If Jones is resigned by the Orioles in the off-season, that would also be a mistake.
Jones was a leader on some very good Orioles teams, but bringing him back for ’19 to be a mentor just doesn’t make sense for where the O’s are going.
You can appreciate that he’s been a great Oriole, and still not want him back.
By the metrics (UZR/150 -16.3, and DRS -15), Jones is a horrible CF at this point.
It’s not enough to say you can open up Center for Mullins by moving Jones to a corner.
(By the way, Mullins might prove to be nothing more than a AAAA guy, but he has to be given an extended look.)
Moving Jones to a Corner doesn’t make sense, because the one thing the O’s have prospect wise is potential Corner OF types.
Those options include the recently acquired Yunsiel Diaz.
Those options also include Austin Hays, Ryan McKenna, DJ Stewart, and Anthony Santander.
It might include Ryan Mountcastle if he proves unable to stay in the infield.
It still includes Mancini, until you’ve opened up 1st or DH.
If you point to Hays struggles this year – health and performance – and say there is still room for Jones, that is missing the point imo. Once Hays gets healthy and earns his way back, you need to be able to evaluate him at the ML level.
Stewart – like Mullins – might prove to be nothing more than a AAAA guy, You still have to play him. Like Mancini, there might be room at 1st / DH when there have been moves of Davis / Trumbo; but those moves have to happen first.
Those guys could all flame out, but there is only one way to find out. Sure Jones would figure to be better than those guys in ’19, but that’s not really the point, right? If that youth isn’t on the field, who is he mentoring?
Let’s also acknowledge that it’s not only Jones’ defense which has regressed.
If you are doing a 1-2 year deal, why is Jones doing it? You aren’t contending next year, and while you plausibly could in 2020… a lot will have to happen.
2015: .782 OPS
2016: .746 OPS
2017: .788 OPS
2018: .724 OPS
He’s been very consistent in his career offensively, but hasn’t posted an OPS over .800 since 2013.
He’s not going to be improving offensively.
Jones had a great Oriole career. He’s done a lot for this City, and should always be remembered fondly.
If he wants to work with the O’s in some capacity when his career ends, I think that would be great.
But if he wants to win, he needs to go somewhere.
And if the O’s want to see what exactly they have with some of their youth; they can’t bring him back because he was a great Oriole.