Saturday, March 13, 2010
The Super Talent: Adam Jones
There are certain days and times when you can feel something change. In sports, when you look back on a team, you can see when and where it all changed. The New York Yankees drafting Derek Jeter in the first round with the 6th overall pick in 1992. The Mets drafting Darryl Strawberry number one overall. The Nationals taking Stephen Strasburg first overall in 2009; well, that remains to be seen. For the Baltimore Orioles, their change in philosophy became clear when they traded ace pitcher Erik Bedard for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherril, and two other players.
Adam Jones has certainly been the centerpiece of that deal, and he has become the Orioles center fielder for the next decade plus as long as he is willing to stay in Baltimore. Jones came over in 2008 and has grown up before our very eyes. Jones is the prototypical "5 tool" athletic talent that scouts drool over. He is becoming much more of a baseball player, and that has Oriole fans clamoring to see him get even better in 2010.
Jones hit .270 in 2008 with nine home runs. In 2009, Jones hit .277 with 19 home runs in 119 games. His defense took a bit of a dip in 2009, but I attribute that to his trying to play more shallow than most centerfielders play. He still was good enough to win the American League outfielders Gold Glove award for 2009. I'd like to see Jones take the next step in center, and possibly play a tad deeper if he still is unable to get to the wall fast enough. However, he is definitely one of the best center fielders in the game already, and he figures to get even better. He can play where he wants to play.
Jones has shown a knack for swinging at bad pitches, though not nearly as many as when he first got the ball club. When Jones is hitting to all fields, he is a .310 hitter in the big leagues. When he chases pitches, he will go around .280. If Jones can learn to take a few more walks, he'll be around .300 every season for the next decade.
Jones is one of the most talented baseball players to come to the Orioles in years. His defense, along with his superior throwing arm make him one of the best outfielders in the game. I can see Jones easily hitting 25 home runs if he plays in 150 plus games, but that will be the key. Jones has not shown the ability to play healthy through an entire season. Though he got hurt by fluke injuries, he'll still need to show he can handle a season. Jones will be arbitration eligible after the season, and if he puts together a solid campaign, I can easily see the Orioles giving him a new contract. I look forward to seeing what Jones will do this 2010 season.