As we get set for our second MASNsports.com chat with fans tonight at 6 p.m at Hightopps Backstage Grille in Timonium, I am reminded of part of the conversation there the last time.
We had a question or comment from someone about Adam Jones. It probably sounded a little to the fans there like I was coming to Jones' defense, but I said that night, "Hey, Jones hit .284 last year with 19 homers. You don't just fall out of bed and do that."
I was really reminded of those words reading Buck Showalter's comments on Jones in Roch's blog yesterday afternoon.
"He is. It's not what he's going to be. He is. Shop him around. We like him and we ain't shopping him around. He's ours and we're glad to have him. We like him the way he is and the way he might be. I'm not going to put that around his neck. We do that all the time. That's only because he's a prisoner of his skill set. I don't look at it that way. We've just got to make sure that Jonesy is going to be as good as he's capable of being, and I'm real close to having that feeling. He's got some good people around him," Showalter said.
In other words, Jones is pretty good right now and adds a lot to the team.
Jones, as I have seen many times in this blog, is a bit of a lightning rod for fan criticism. While some of it is justified, some of it is also too harsh and off base in my opinion.
Some fans seem to linger over some of the aspects of his game that probably can be criticized with justification. Yes, he doesn't walk enough, he sometimes throws to the wrong base and struggles to hit a down-and away-curveball.
But he also has some potentially big time talent there, or he could not have hit .284 with 19 homers in a less-than-stellar lineup in 2010.
Like Showalter said, a lot of teams would have interest in a young outfielder with speed, power, a good glove and strong arm that is under team control for three more seasons.
Sometimes, though, Adam may bring some criticism on himself. It seems to stir up some fans when he mentions what city he is going to or what he is going to be doing on his Twitter account. I think some take that to mean he doesn't work hard enough or take the game seriously. I don't think a fan should take that leap at all.
To put this in Buck's terms, I think Jones has plenty of "want to" and is a "nugget."
Criticism of Jones' struggles with plate discipline and his sometimes erratic outfield defense is fair. Sometimes, though, I wonder though if a segment of fans linger too much on what Jones can't do or struggles to do rather than what he can and is already bringing to the table.