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An Adam Jones Trade Would Test My Orioles Fanhood

I’ve been noting with a wary eye the raft of recent trade rumors surrounding Adam Jones (warning: Sun paywall link). There’s no doubt he’s one of the team’s best trade chips and could bring a decent haul in return. And, yes, a team in dire straits like the Orioles has to do the due diligence of considering any and every offer. But no matter. Trading Jones would be a mistake. A mistake of significant enough magnitude that it would seriously erode already iffy confidence in Dan Duquette‘s ability to handle the task at hand.

Jones’ bona fides as a player are understood. He can be generally expected in a given year — on a bad team — to hit around .280, belt 20+ HR, drive in 70-80 runs, and play credible (occasionally spectacular) defense. He’s not on what you’d call a Hall of Fame pace but he is a top-third player at his position.

But his on-field production isn’t why I say don’t trade him. Not by itself, anyway.

Jones is a star in the broader sense of the term. In an era when most players rank somewhere between “meh” and “boring” on the personality scale, Jones comes across as genuinely interesting. One glance at his Twitter feed shows as much. Put him on the Mets or Angels and I can guarantee he eventually lands in the front segment on SportsCenter for blowing a bubble while authoring a Web Gem.

Most any team would be happy to have a Gold Glove, All Star center fielder who’s actually fun to watch both on and off the field. That the Orioles have such a player, despite their woeful state, is a gift.

One that, I’ll grant you, would be more valuable if they were winning. Jones’ personality isn’t worth as much on a bad team as it would be on a good one. But this is precisely why they need to keep him around for as long as they can. If they start sniffing around .500 again then a certain percentage of lost fans will trickle back in, looking for players to fall in love with. As much as I appreciate Wieters and Markakis et al, they’re not exciting personalities. Jones is, and we need that both now and, more importantly, in the future.

The right move is to try — with two seasons of team control left — to sign him to a generous but reasonable extension. Lock him up for four years, buying out two free agent seasons, and turn him into a true cornerstone. Hope that by year two or three of that deal the team is back to respectability. A trade should be considered only — only — when all reasonable options to sign him have been exhausted. Get him out of here, in other words, only if he doesn’t want to be here.

I would like to believe that Duquette understands this. I’m fairly certain the communications folks do, though I haven’t had any specific discussions about it. But I’m worried. Worried that Duquette will rob Peter to pay Paul, worried that we’re about to be sold the fiction that Endy Chavez really has more upside than we realize.

To be fair, I’m not in the warehouse. Maybe for all I know Jones has already told the team through back channels that it’d take a ridiculous deal to keep him. But even if that’s the case, if Duquette trades Jones for anything less than a massive, lopsided return, he will be making a mistake that in all likelihood does as much harm as good, if not more.

19 comments to An Adam Jones Trade Would Test My Orioles Fanhood

  • Adam

    Could not agree more. Silly as this is, my brother bought me a Protect This Yard Adam Jones “Give 100 Percent Every Damn Day” shirt for Christmas. First, if you haven’t been to https://protectthisyard.spreadshirt.com/, it’s incredibly worthwhile. Two, statements like Jones saying “Around here, we hate closers. We want to give all closers Ls” is the kind of swagger it is almost impossible to find on a losing team. Neal, you’re 100% right that he’s the kind of personality we’ll need when we start winning. But more than that, he’s the kind of personality we need while we’re losing.

  • dan the man

    I agree his swagger and aura is something that is sorely needed around here, but we’re missing the crucial piece of the puzzle that allows us to fully judge whether or not he should be traded: is he willing to be locked up long-term?

    We just don’t know. And if he’s not, you have to trade him Right Now. Chances are he wants to see some progress before signing a deal. And he’s going to be immediately disappointed when Prince signs with DC, and then what? Jones doesn’t want to see a rebuild – he’s a player, they want to win Now.

    So it all comes back to The Plan: are we rebuilding this thing or are we trying to win now? If we’re trying to win now, you have to make a stupid run at Prince Fielder (there’s no sluggers next year in FA) and you have to trade somebody to acquire a stable starter so that at least this year, the O’s would have an average rotation (progress) and a formidable lineup including Jones, Fielder, etc.

    All of that is extremely unlikely, obviously. I just think the Orioles are SO thin at starting pitching, that if the right deal presents itself (NOT simply Jair Jurrjens), you have to make a move because Adam Jones the Centerfielder is replaceable.

    It’s Adam Jones the Dude that is unfortunately, not.

  • dan the man

    Neal wrote:

    A mistake of significant enough magnitude that it would seriously erode already iffy confidence in Dan Duquette‘s ability to handle the task at hand.

    Also, Neal… what would you have Duquette do? Is having Duq hold onto Jones until he ditches us at the altar really handling the task? What is the task, exactly? We don’t know. The O’s are doing this middle of the road thing again, and that, above anything, is what would erode my confidence in Dan Duquette. If he trades Jones, he’s doing it because the organization is so thin that he has to do it, which is to be commended. Yeah, Jones is good for marketing, but it doesn’t matter when the team is losing 12-4 nightly because they can’t pitch.

    For the record, I think Jones probably stays, and that’s ok because I love watching the guy. But he needs to improve his OBP, he needs to play better defense, and he needs to steal more bases. And then he needs to sign a contract or else not trading him right now is a huge, huge mistake for the organization because in 2 years, it could very well end up being simply the same exact team minus Adam Jones.

  • Andrew

    I do not understand how anybody can look at one of the worst on-field teams in all of baseball and say “we need to build around what we have, because the core we have is pretty good”. They aren’t. If they were good, the Orioles wouldn’t be flirting with 100 losses literally every single effing year.

    Adam Jones’ career on-base percentage is .319. That’s bad enough that it will always limit him to being a strictly complimentary player, not a core guy to throw globs of cash at. The last thing the Orioles need is another Markakis-esque contract, paying star prices for complimentary production.

    So, I couldn’t disagree more with the idea that we should extend Jones and then just “hope” everything looks way better in three years. Things don’t come together because you want them to. They come together because you recognize that a player like Adam Jones is pretty good and full of swagger and fun to watch, but not the kind of player that you want to build into your core.

    He is instead exactly the type of player its easy to overvalue, and a terrible, terrible team needs to take advantage of that and get as much as they can for him on the trade market.

  • dan the man

    @ Andrew:
    I mostly agree, but the only thing I’ll say is that I think the O’s could be good with Adam Jones on the team if their starting rotation wasn’t terrible.

    On a good team with good pitching and better players, Jones is fine as your power-hitting CFer. On the Orioles, he’s not doing enough to make him worth it because the team is just so bad. And you can’t magically come up with a good starting rotation – he’s one way to get closer to that.

  • PW

    My only trepidation with trading Jones is, will the Orioles get the return they need to justify it. Personally, regardless of who we would get (realistically speaking) I’d have to say no. Most likely we would get a middle to lower caliber MLB player or 2 and a couple prospects. It would be nice to look at the prospects and say “give them a couple years, they are going to be really good.” But lets be honest here, our farm system is lack luster and I don’t see them fostering star players. They can produce average players and good players, but not stars. So is Jones worth what will probably end up as a couple average players? I’d say no.

    That having been said, if the right deal comes along I don’t think anybody on this team should be above trading at this point. This goes double if it can result in getting pitching, because pitching wins championships and the O’s haven’t had pitching in a long time.

  • Mike R

    I’m glad I don’t have to make these decisons for a living. On one hand when you lose 90+ games a year, everyone is expendable in my opinion. On the other hand, the farm system doesn’t have potential all-star/gold glove OF’s beating down the door. .319 OBP aside, I think AJ improves on that this year. We saw his patience and plate discipline improve as the year progressed. Many a breaking ball in the dirt he layed off of, leaving me saying “He would have swung at that in April.”

    But everyone should be expendable, and should be on watch. If you get the right players in return, pull the trigger on a deal. It would have to take more than Jurrjens.

    I would make a deal that sent Jones for Jurrjens, top pitching prospect Julio Teheran, and Martin Prado as well to solve our 2B problem.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    no thread for the greatest month in sports?

  • Andrew

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    its not october! Need we remind you that there is only one october?

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    oh yeah halloween

  • dan the man

    …aaaand Matty Ice still not better than Flacco. You can audible all you want, dude.

  • PW

    @ dan the man:
    That was a pitiful performance by that entire offense, and a largely uninteresting game. Lets hope we get a better one in Denver. Prediction: Pit 20, Den 13

  • dan the man

    It’s Tebow time!

  • dan the man

    Come on… no comments about last night? I dunno about this whole posting-once-a-week thing. There are epic playoff implications at stake!

    For a minute last night, I wanted to be like “damn, now that the Steelers look so bad, I kind of hope they win.” But then they started mounting that comeback that we’ve seen one too many times around here and that’s when I remembered, nope, I don’t want any part of that. Their loss spared us from a possible comeback Steelers win in Baltimore, and for that I am thankful.

    Denver gave NE a run for its money last time they met up until Brady started doing his thing. Can’t count Tebow out, though, especially if he’s magically learned how to throw the deep ball effectively.

  • dan the man

    O’s get Chen.. bring back Koji for the trifecta!

  • Andrew

    @ dan the man:
    In all seriousness, the Koji-back-to-Baltimore story that got started a while back has never made even one bit of sense to me. The infatuation the media has with him is endearing and cute, but really, really silly.

  • dan the man

    Andrew wrote:

    @ dan the man:
    In all seriousness, the Koji-back-to-Baltimore story that got started a while back has never made even one bit of sense to me. The infatuation the media has with him is endearing and cute, but really, really silly.

    Eh, yeah, but if he can be had for, like, cash money, then why not? Mostly jokes, though. I think it does make sense in that you have a guy who has been through the transition to assist the two new guys, plus he’s a solid middle-to-late reliever. The catch is, you can’t give up anything for him. It’s got to be cash only.

  • dan the man

    Duquette also just hired another old school (and also just plain Old) guy for the FO. He’s surrounded himself with knowledgeable cats and I have to say, even if they’re old, at least they have good track records. It’s been interesting watching him create this crazy FO. If he’s not allowed to fire the evil Stockstill, at least he’s undermining the shit out of him.

    Call this a boring offseason if you want, which it kind of is, but there’s so much that’s going under the radar internally. He’s done a lot. I mean everyone is nuts over Darvish, but we got arguably the two next best guys right behind him without have to post.

    Either way, you have 11 guys vying for 5 spots in the rotation, and I’m not sure he’s done adding pitchers in that regard.

    I think we may see some big moves coming up. Just a hunch.

  • Max

    Great article. I’ve been totally with you in that I recognize AJ’s trade value but didn’t want to see him go. I think you hit the nail on the head though, it’s his swagger, character and style that give him that edge. There has been a lot of hate on his D (and admittedly, there are stats that suggest that he makes his job look harder than it is… but I like how it looks so whatever) and his OBP, but he gives me a much needed extra reason to keep watching the Orioles. If Duquette trades him, I trust he’ll do it for the right price. So far, he’s been careful and smart. Still, the right price will hurt. I want to see number 10 again next.
    BTW, my anti spam word was Ravens… accident? I think not. Let’s go Baltimore!