Adam Jones' departure ends special era of Orioles baseball - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Adam Jones’ departure ends special era of Orioles baseball

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

SARASOTA, Fla.—Two men carried a cardboard sign around Ed Smith Stadium on Sunday that read: “Enough Already Sign Adam Jones.”

Though that wasn’t a message to the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose agreement  with Jones became known a few hours later, it was an indication of how Orioles fans felt about one of the best players in franchise history.

There was no chance the Orioles were going to re-sign Jones—especially after he invoked his no-trade clause last July to stop a move to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Even if there was a sliver of a chance of Jones returning when spring training began, and there wasn’t, the fine play in the outfield of Yusniel Diaz and Austin Hays, plus the signing of Eric Young Jr. and the acquisition of Dwight Smith Jr., made Jones’ return an impossibility.

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That won’t stop the fans’ pining for Jones nor their rooting for him.

Interestingly, the Orioles issued Buck Showalter’s No. 26 to pitching coach Doug Brocail this spring, Manny Machado’s No. 13 to first base coach Arnie Beyeler and Zack Britton’s No. 53 to Gregory Infante, a pitcher who hasn’t reported because of health issues.

However, they haven’t issued No. 10.

Jones’ one-year, $3-million contract is a shock to the baseball system. It’s far below what Jones was seeking and raises the possibility that Oriole fans will never see their favorite play another game in Baltimore.

The Orioles face the Diamondbacks in July, but it’s in Phoenix, and at Jones’ age — he’ll be 34 in August — and the way that baseball economics is going, this could be his final season.

While Jones’ numbers in Baltimore were excellent, he’s a step below Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer and Eddie Murray.

But Jones is at the top of the second tier of Orioles greats, even if he won’t make Cooperstown.

His involvement with Baltimore has been written about often, but it was his accessibility via social media that heightened his popularity.

There was Jones, cheering the Ravens on in zero degree weather on the sideline in Denver during their Super Bowl run—just like you were—even though you were in your living room.

Jones was so popular that he had a burger named for him—the Simply AJ10—at Baltimore’s Abbey Burger Bistro. (kobe beef, pepperjack, avocado, jalapenos, bacon, chili peppers, lettuce, tomato, English muffin with tots and nacho cheese).

Jones was one of the most popular African American athletes in Baltimore history, and in a city with such a large minority population, that was something he cherished.

Though no statistics are kept on it, anecdotally Jones was responsible for a spike in attendance among African Americans, something he noticed and commented on privately.

From 2011-17, Jones was incredibly consistent, hitting 25 or more homers, driving in 73 or more runs, and batting at least .269.

Even last year, the final year of a six-year, $85.5-million contract, wasn’t bad. He hit .281 with 15 homers and 63 RBIs.

Jones hoped that the Orioles would re-sign him, but that wasn’t happening. If that wasn’t, being a coveted free agent would do.

Andrew McCutchen, who’s a year younger than Jones, signed a three-year, $50-million contract with the Phillies early in the offseason, and perhaps Jones thought he could get a similar deal.

But for the second straight offseason, the climate for veterans wasn’t promising, and while there was chatter that there was interest in Jones from Cleveland, San Diego and San Francisco, nothing materialized.

Now, Jones’ career as an Oriole is officially over, and the stats are impressive: fourth in hits (1,781), behind only Ripken, Brooks Robinson and Murray; fifth in home runs (263) and RBIs (875).

Jones could occasionally be a gruff interview, but most of the time, he was welcoming and insightful and often held court before games, commenting on sports, politics or food.

His departure ends a special era of Orioles baseball — one that featured Showalter, Machado, Britton, Nick Markakis, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters, interesting characters all.

They’re all gone now, and Orioles fans can only hope that in the next several years, another player as skilled and charismatic as Jones will be on display. The guess here is that appreciation for Jones’ skills will only deepen in the coming years.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 12, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Ya know …. if the Orioles have no problem bringing back someone like Joey Rickard … why couldn’t they have at least “entertained” keeping Adam Jones around another year or 2? And I don’t want to hear that he’d be blocking some of the younger players, because that’s exactly what Joey Rickard is doing.

    I’m well aware that it’s not 1977 anymore, and sentiment is for the foolish and aged, but some players are, or at least should be, iconic enough for a franchise to carry in their twilight years. Maybe Adam didn’t or wouldn’t want to stay under these type circumstances, but did anybody even bother to ask the man? If so, it would be news to me.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 12, 2019 at 7:29 pm

      I loved watching and covering Jones, but I hope the Diamondbacks are a contender so he can play in another pennant race, Boog.

    • [email protected]

      March 13, 2019 at 10:53 am

      Well said Boog.

  2. Hallbe62

    March 12, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Change is inevitable. Good luck Mr. Jones, although the O’s will need the luck more than you.

  3. BirdsCaps

    March 12, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Jones will be sorely missed. I would’ve loved to have seen him as a bench/platoon corner outfielder, however there were likely too many youngsters around for that to happen. This was most certainly a great era of Orioles baseball, starting with the 2011 victory against Boston and (for the most part) ending with Encarnacion’s homer off of Ubaldo. Looking around to other clubs, (especially St Louis, Boston, Evil Empire, and maybe the Cubbies) the Orioles window for contention was awfully short. The case of the birds short window, should be fully analyzed and sent around to front offices league wide on how not to continue being competitive.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 12, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      BirdsCaps, if you go back and read my interview with Mike Elias a few weeks ago, you’ll see he addressed the concern of a short window.

  4. bmorebirds

    March 12, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Adam Jones was an interesting character who was equally at home being a pie-smashing goofball or unflinchingly telling Fenway racists where to get off. Loved the hard-nosed, old-school sensibility he played with. He was well-compensated by the Orioles and returned that love to the city of Baltimore tenfold. Sorry his run didn’t result in a ring, but Father Time sez it’s time to turn the page. Mr. Jones will always be an Oriole, regardless what uniform he wears this year.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 12, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      Interesting thoughts, bmorebirds.

  5. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    March 12, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    He was the key piece in the Erick Bedard trade. His development as a player and team leadership was instrumental on the Orioles resurgence. Also, he put forth a commitment to the City of Baltimore helping with civic causes.

    Unfortunately, the new management was not inclined to bring him back. I wish him the best of luck in the future and fully appreciate his success with the Orioles. He will be greatly missed.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 12, 2019 at 7:40 pm

      I know a lot of Orioles fans agree with you, Grand Strand.

  6. willmiranda

    March 12, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    A few thoughts. Adam Jones wouldn’t play for Joey Rickard’s contract. When teams carry 12 or even 13 pitchers, there isn’t room on the bench for good guys who primarily offer reliability and experience and encouragement. Now bench coaches do that. The gap between what Jones’s contract had been –big bucks, no-trade, etc. (all of it deserved at the time)– and his present market value, was not just big; it was unsurmountable. It’s no fun trying to monetize sentiment, but there has to be some proportion. Cold-heartedly, if Jones had gone to Philadelphia and performed well, they probably would have offered him much more than Arizona..

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 12, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      Interesting insights, Will.

  7. Bhoffman1

    March 12, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    There was no way they were going to sign Adam this year. The Angelos were upset when he elected stay last year. I’m not impressed with Eric Young, Richard and what has Dwight Smith done probably very little. Diaz and Mountcastle are not ready but atleast they made the last few weeks enjoyable to watch

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 12, 2019 at 7:42 pm

      As I write this, Dwight Smith Jr. has yet to play, bhoffman, and it’s Rickard, not Richard. Glad you’re enjoying the spring.

  8. DevoTion

    March 12, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Jones was a great player for us. It would have been nice for him to retire an Oriole but it wasn’t meant to be. I wish him well in Arizona. If he gets the chance to play a good portion of the season he will probably put up around 20-25 HR and hit about 280. I think a big reason his power numbers were down last year was the line up he was surrounded by. Jones was the Suggs of the Orioles. They will both be missed tremendously not just for their play but also their leadership

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 12, 2019 at 9:18 pm

      Devo, he will be missed greatly.

  9. Camden Brooks

    March 13, 2019 at 3:38 am

    Hard to know if Buck actually wore #26 since he always had on a pullover during games! He might’ve just had a Bohager’s tee under there…

  10. boss61

    March 13, 2019 at 5:50 am

    Rich, I think the separation was necessary for the good of a complete and no-holds-barred rebuild. Jones needs to play (or attempt to play) and contend (or attempt to contend). We will not be contenders for awhile, and every inning he played would rob a prospect of developmental experience. At least in theory. By the time we again contend, Jones will be retired, even if the Basic Agreement would not force that day on him prematurely.

  11. Borg

    March 13, 2019 at 5:51 am

    If the O’s had offered Jones a one year, $3 million contract at the end of last season, I think the narrative would be how disrespectful the club was being towards a player who had contributed so much to their success in the years after 2012. That being said, I’d much rather have Jones at that price to be a part-timer/mentor than Rickard at any price. To me, Rickard flashes just enough production to make everybody think he might have finally turned the corner enough to be a productive player, then… He hits his usual wall and his production begins to drop off. He’s the new Mark Smith-an average player who has enough skills to make major league clubs for a decade as a fourth outfielder. I just wish one of those clubs wasn’t Baltimore.

    • boss61

      March 13, 2019 at 6:22 am

      You are right, Boog, about how disrespectfu the $3M contract would have been if offered by the O’s. That IS is present market value. Anything more would have been an overpay. Another reason the O’s did the right thing to move on.

  12. ClyOs

    March 13, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Best center fielder in O’s history.

    • Mike1966

      March 13, 2019 at 9:13 am

      I guess you never saw Paul Blair play Center Field.

      • VICTORTEE

        March 13, 2019 at 9:28 am

        I saw Paul Blair play and he was a great defensive center fielder but Adam Jones was a much better hitter. So Adam was a better all around center fielder which I assume is what ClyOs meant. Paul Blair was never the same as a hitter after he was beaned.

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