Even before the Orioles acquired Vladimir Guerrero, O's center fielder Adam Jones was psyched about the club's offseason additions and rather excited for the 2011 season.
"The first couple years (I was here), no moves really had been made, maybe a couple here and there. This one seems like, the time is now. I like it," Jones said recently at FanFest.
Even though Jones has been in the Oriole lineup for three years and has played in 473 major league games, he remains one of the youngest players on the team at 25.
As we've discussed here before, Jones is a player that produces a wide variety of fan opinions. Some look at him and see limitless potential and others see a player that chases too many pitches and may not develop the discipline at the plate to ever reach his vast potential.
Jones doesn't deny his major issue on offense is plate discipline. He needs to draw more walks and get into more hitters' counts, while also swinging at fewer bad pitches.
"It's true. It comes down to me. So many people have been telling me 'Do this, do that.' First off, I got to the major leagues by myself. Well, not myself, but my talent got me to the major leagues. I've been able to hit my way to the major leagues," he said.
"When people tell me you should do this and that, I've made myself an all right player at this point, so let me continue to improve rather than people telling me what I should do.
"When you are going bad and struggle as a hitter, you try to overcompensate and do too much. When I stepped back, the last three or four months of last year, I let everything come to me," Jones added.
Jones got off to a fast start in the 2009 season while having a better second half in 2010. If you could combine the two halves into one season, he would have batted .300 with 17 homers and 77 RBI along with 30 doubles and 87 runs in 550 at bats. His on-base percentage would have been in the .355 range along with an OPS of .815.
Jones seems quite capable of putting up those numbers over a full season - that is within a single season.
He could surely benefit from the fortified Orioles lineup and perhaps lower expectations for him this year. Well, not necessarily lower but the fact that others will be more counted on to carry the offense and he may be now in more of a supporting role.
To me, he remains a very key part of the Orioles' future. Young and talented and a player that can help on offense and defense. He brings a lot to the table.
I see him as just now coming into his peak years. While some players at 25 are just coming into their first or second year in the majors, Jones has played at least parts of five seasons at this level.
He said "the time is now." That may well be as true for him as it is for the team.