O’s Spring Training: The 25 who will make it (#8)

February 28, 2010 | Drew Forrester

When the Orioles swung the deal with the Mariners that brought Adam Jones to Baltimore, everyone agreed that for the deal to be considered a “win” for the Birds, Jones needed to be the difference-maker.

Entering his 3rd season in Baltimore, the debate is as one-sided as it can be.

Jones – in orange and black – has completely outperformed Bedard in the Great Northwest.

And if Chris Tillman and Josh Bell (acquired in the George Sherrill deal last summer — Sherrill was part of the Bedard/Seattle trade in ’07) turn out to be major league rock stars, the fleecing of the Mariners will go down in the All-Time Thieves Handbook.

For now, though, Adam Jones is the jewel of the deal.  He can hit, he can field, he can run.  Other than fly the team plane, I’m not sure there’s anything else you’d want from him.  And he does them all fairly well. Yes, he does have some habits at the plate that need worked on, but those are issues relating mainly to experience — not talent.

Odds he’ll be on the roster at the start of the season:  100%

Odds he’ll be on the roster at the end of the season:  100%

Odds he’ll be an effective contributor in 2010:  90%

Odds his name will be mentioned at the trade deadline in late July:  0%

Summary: 2010 could be the year Adam Jones becomes a verifiable star player in the American League. For starters, he needs to go through a season injury free, after missing nearly 70 games over the last two years due to a variety of injuries and such.  That, right now, is the only knock on Jones at this point in his career.  He’s good for one or two trips to the DL per-season.  At the plate, he does everything well, but needs a bump in all of the important categories to go from “good” to “great”.  His .277 average from a year ago needs a 20-point surge to the .300 neighborhood.  His RBI totals need a 20-total surge, nearing the century mark.  And those 19 HR from a year ago would look a lot better, if, say, the final number was closer to 25.  And if Jones plays 145 games instead of 125 games, you can expect every number to spike — the right way.  Part of Jones’ 2010 success will be based on where he hits in the lineup and whether or not Dave Trembley and Terry Crowley can make him understand that you can’t hit a 5-run home run in the big leagues.  He has a bad habit of getting “homer happy” after hitting two or three dingers in a five-game span and that tends to take a week or two to sort itself out.  His penchant for swinging at chest high fast balls is well known around the league, but he makes contact on those pitches more times than people give him credit for…he just doesn’t drive the ball for power when it’s up in the strike zone.

Quirky stats on Jones in 2009:

> Getting it right: Hit .295 vs. RHP and only .246 vs. LHP (weird) and had 4 HR vs. LHP

> Bad finish: Injuries limited him to 39 games in 2nd half of the season and he hit just .222

> 3rd time NOT the charm:  Only hit .198 batting 3rd (31 games, 132 PA)

> Get him to the 9th: One of the team leaders in 9th inning average with .333

Drew’s projections for Jones in 2010

* .286 average

* 22 HR

* 91 RBI