Adam Jones calls for better defense in the outfield

Let Adam Jones play general manager and he’s got strong opinions on where the Orioles need to improve in 2017. It isn’t on the pitching staff, it isn’t in the lineup, it isn’t on the basepaths.

“We don’t need more power. I think that’s prevalent. We don’t need more offense. I think we need to improve the outfield defense,” Jones said.

“People want to say always pitching, pitching, pitching. I think we’ve got some (darn) good pitchers right now. They’re young, but they’re maturing. (Kevin) Gausman turned the page, (Dylan) Bundy increased his innings, so I think we’ve got pretty good starting pitching. I just think we need to improve defensively in the outfield. Just get more speed, more athleticism out there.

jones-throws-gray-front-sidebar.jpg“There’s always a way to improve. There’s going to be a lot of moves from every organization the next coming weeks because there are a lot of guys who are unsigned.”

The Orioles traded for Seth Smith. Joey Rickard is healthy after a thumb injury ended his season on July 20. Hyun Soo Kim is getting more comfortable in major league outfields.

It’s not enough to completely satisfy Jones.

“A step in the right direction, but I don’t think my question was completely answered on the defensive side,” he said. “It’s going to be hard. Those guys aren’t necessarily known for their defense.

“We don’t have a strikeout pitching staff, so our defense is used quite a bit. And you see our infield defense is unbelievable. We’re still competitive in the outfield, but we just need to get a little bit more athletic in my point of view. I’ve been out there for a while and I’ve seen the changes. Those are just my ideas.”

Jones shot down the idea that improvements can be made by shifting players to new positions.

“Just get more athletic guys,” he said. “I’m not saying that Trumbo and Seth Smith aren’t athletic. They’re very good athletes. But they’re not top of the line and defensive players first.”

Here’s more from Jones:

On the new additions this winter: “We made some good moves. I think Dan (Duquette) still wants to do a few other things before spring training. If you look out on the market right now, there’s a plethora of guys in the major and minor leagues that can help not just us but a lot of other teams. I think the next coming weeks before the official day of spring training there’s going to be a lot of guys signing and get the ball going on a lot of guys who are still out there as free agents.”

On the team being aggressive to keep its own players: “It was smart to not let go of (Mark) Trumbo and we see what happened with Nelson Cruz. Some people thought that he wouldn’t have kept going at that pace and he’s kept going at that pace. I think we missed with him. I don’t think we were going to let Trumbo go off with another team and put up those types of numbers.

“I’ve always said that when you have success with a group, you try to keep that group. I know a lot of times when you win, teams get dismantled and that kind of thing because people want the big paydays in other markets, which is understandable. It’s obviously a very good idea on their behalf because that’s part of the game also. But if it’s in the cards, it’s smart to keep your own guys because they mesh together and they understand the process that each player goes through individually. You’ve got a good chain, don’t mess with it.”

On how it’s not enough to just make the playoffs: “I’m only getting older, so I don’t think that I just want to get to the playoffs. I want to keep advancing and advancing. I think everybody does, also. We’re going to have a competitive team, but I don’t want to just have a competitive team. I’d rather have a team that’s going out there competing for a championship, not just competing just to get into the dance. I want a championship fighting team because, like I said, I’m only getting older.

“I’m glad that (Duquette) has kept a lot of guys, frustrated that he let some go. But always happy that he’s maintained his way of thinking, his way of doing business. He wants to get the guys on his deal and at the end of the day, it’s worked out in some cases. The way he’s been doing business, you can’t fault the man for the way he does it. I just continue to say ‘thank you’ for giving me the guys who are going out there each day competing and that you understand can play for Buck.”

On whether he thinks about the window closing: “This is part of the business. You would be behind people if you didn’t do that. I think everybody knows what my contract status is, what Manny’s and Britton’s is and Tillman’s. I think that’s pretty broad news right now.”

On whether he wants to stay an Oriole: “That’s not up to me. That’s up to the front office. It’s a business thing nowadays. If the front office feels they’re going to continue to be competitive, then you go that route, but if they feel ... You never know. Teams say they want to rebuild - I don’t feel that Buck or Dan would ever say that - but teams say it. At the end of the day it’s going to be what’s best for myself, my family and the team. So, we shall see.”

On batting leadoff: “I spoke to (Showalter) a few times this offseason. I don’t think we every talked about leading off. To be honest with you, I don’t care. If need be, I’ll do it again. I don’t care. I’ll do whatever it takes. You guys know my personality. I don’t care about individual stats. I just care about the W at the end of the game. I’m all for it if that’s what needs to happen. I would enjoy hitting fourth, but if that’s not the case, I’ll do whatever this team needs me to do.”

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