I wonder what it would be like to be a fly on the wall of the Adam Jones house this off-season. Jones, the unquestioned leader of the Orioles has never been shy about voicing his opinion. He’s lashed out at his critics, at critics of the team, at the media from time to time and even at fans who may have left games too early for his liking. In an off-season where the organization has done nothing to appease its fans, those fans have begun to sound off about their displeasure. If Jones is the leader that he claims to be, the leader that he seems to be, the leader that we need him to be, then it’s time he lashed out at this organization with the same spirit, pride and vitriol that he’s been willing to exercise on those outside of it. The Orioles aren’t listening to our concerns, maybe they’ll respond to his.
If we’re not happy, then Jones can’t be happy. He just finished up the first year of a 6-year contract extension, He earned less in 2013 than he would have gotten in arbitration had he not taken a leap of faith on the Orioles, and the 5-years and $77 million that he has remaining on that deal are laughable in comparison to the deals that older and arguably less valuable players have been handed in this, the off-season in which Jones would have been a free agent himself.
It’s a fair bet that Jones in free agency could have gotten $25-$50 million more over the next 5-years than he’s due to make under his current deal. It’s feasible he could have gotten 2 or 3 more years on a deal this off-season than he has on his current one too. And what are the Orioles doing with the savings? How is the club rewarding its leader for the hometown discount he’s given them? Maybe they’re saving up for his next contract.
The off-season isn’t over yet, but the Orioles are looking more and more like the organization we’ve been accustomed to over the last decade and a half than the one that we’d hoped they were becoming. And it looks like Jones will have plenty of opportunity to understand the fans whose frustration he was unable to understand or empathize with before. Jones will find out what the fans are feeling, the same way that Brian Roberts, and Miguel Tejada, and Nick Markakis and so many others forced (or tricked) into giving the best years of their careers and the best years of their lives to an organization that’s not committed to winning.
Old habits die hard, and old dogs don’t learn new tricks. We’d hoped otherwise but little has changed in Baltimore since the dismantling of the 1997 team and reluctantly we’re all accepting that it won’t change anytime soon. And Adam Jones will learn to accept it as well…like it or not.
Jones has been the Orioles best and most natural leader and “face of the franchise” since Cal Ripken. As fans we can appreciate that even if Jones can’t appreciate the reasons for our pessimism. I wonder how much Jones really knows about the history of Ripken and the Orioles. I wonder if he knows about the “Ripken Cap” or the artificial salary ceiling that the Orioles had when nobody was allowed to earn more than “the face of the franchise”. It’s a safe bet that rather than using the savings Jones has given the Orioles, they’ll instead use his salary as a reason (or excuse) not to pay anyone more than his heavily discounted, highly team friendly, well below market annual salary.That won’t bode well for keeping talent like Chris Davis or Matt Wieters around or for adding future talent through free-agency. Leave it to the Orioles to make one of the better value deals in baseball today into a detriment to the team.
Enjoy your stay in Baltimore Adam…this is how we reward loyalty.