Adam Jones. The centerpiece of the Erik Bedard trade. I heard such good things about him when the trade happened but the Orioles nailed this one on the head.
We are so quick to point out a team's mistakes and I am more guilty than most of being eternally pessimistic with my O's so, on the heels of hitting the game-winning RBI in the All Star Game, let's pat the eternally-hopeless bastards on the back. Unbiased journalism be damned right now in my elation.
Adam Jones is the real deal. Not to mention that the O's also received George Sherill (20-for-23 in save opportunities this year) and Chris Tillman while Bedard has gone 11-6 with the Mariners.
But this is an article about Jones and what he is a part of in the Baltimore outfield. Jones has thrived as the centerfielder in Baltimore. His defense has been nothing short of superb.
En route to earning his first all-star nod, the righthander has hit .303 with 12 homers, 47 RBI and 55 runs. The 23-year old has made amazing catches all year long and is a block for the O's to build around for years.
More importantly than Jones' role as the line-up's No. 2 hitter or his stature as being able to cover more ground in center than anybody else in the league, is the fact that the Orioles are building one of the major's finest group of young outfields. Finally, a glimmer of hope in Charm City.
Jones' breakout season has pushed him into the lineup above teammate and fellow rising-star Nick Markakis. The 25-year old rightfielder hits behind Jones and is now being touted as the team's budding star, alongside Jones.
Markakis, who just signed a six-year, $66 million contract, is hitting .291 with 57 RBIs and will become a perennial all-star.
The third spot in the outfield is interesting but has capable prospects. Felix Pie, the former Cubs castoff, and Nolan Reimold, a 25-year old rookie, both compete for the action now. Although it feels like he has been struggling in the majors forever now, Pie is only 24 and is in his third season in the majors.
Reimold is hitting .257 with 9 homers right now while Pie has hit only .234 over 53 games. Luke Scott, who is turning into one of the AL's top designated hitters, also can play the outfield. The 31-year-old has hit .305 this season while smacking 18 home runs, 11 doubles, and 51 RBIs.
For the first time in a while, I'm confident about the Orioles' future at one position. While competing in the AL East with one of sports' worst owners, the O's must take baby steps before building back into anything (a winning record would be a HUGE step).
The outfield will be anchored by Jones and Markakis for the foreseeable future. Pie and Reimold could both have bright futures ahead of them and Scott, although better suited as a DH, can play the outfield in a pinch.
Scott is not the answer for the middle-of-the-order bat that the O's lack but the building blocks are falling into place. One thing is for certain, the O's have one of the top young group of outfielders in all of baseball and there aren't many collective groups, with their current contracts, that I would rather have than the one that rests in Charm City.
Led by All-Star Adam Jones. Congrats, Adam and way to represent 'Baltimore' for the first time in an all-star game in a long, long time and doing it the right way (the stupid O's featured Orioles on their road jersey for the longest time).