There's no getting around it: Adam Jones has been a disappointment. Not a bust, really. But a .275/.319/.437 career line in the majors just isn't what we expected from the guy who dominated the Pacific Coast League when he was only 21. After that season (2007), Jones would have ranked among the 10 hottest properties in baseball.
But it just hasn't happened yet. The Mariners gave up on him after just a very brief trial in the majors, including him in a large package of prospects (including Chris Tillman) that brought Erik Bedard to Seattle.
Granted, the deal's worked out wonderfully for the Orioles, as Bedard's spent most of the last four seasons just trying to stay healthy. And in 2009, Jones actually made the American League All-Star team. But he simply isn't the big star the Orioles undoubtedly thought they were getting.
There's been a great deal of talk this winter about Adam Jones becoming an Atlanta Brave. Names have been floated and everything. Jair Jurrjens. Martín Prado. Pretty good players, already. For his part, Prado's just two years older than Jones, has better career statistics, and is more versatile.
Still, the Orioles -- and new general manager Dan Duquette -- have reportedly spurned such a package.
Why? FanGraphs' Dave Cameron looked at young players who swung at a lot of pitches and had at least a modicum of power. What he found was a bunch of guys who eventually learned to stop swinging at so many bad pitches and became outstanding hitters. Not all of them, by any means. But a significant number of them.
When the Orioles look at Adam Jones, they’re not looking at a +2 to +3 win guy with a low OBP who needs work judging balls off the bat – they’re looking at a guy with the potential to become a premium player at an up-the-middle position. And if they’re going to give up that potential, they’re going to need to get some serious upside in return.
I like Jurrjens, but he's managed only 43 starts in the last two seasons. I like Prado, but he's two years older than Jones. I think if the Orioles are going to trade the guy, they should get someone like ... well, someone like Adam Jones was, four years ago.