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January 4, 2011

Excited Jones says Orioles can win, isn't concerned by rest of division

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who was on his way to batting practice under the watchful eye of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, was extolling the virtues of Derrek Lee and the Orioles’ other offseason additions when he was quickly informed that his team had just agreed to terms with reliever Kevin Gregg.

“We signed him, too?” Jones asked.

Asked whether he liked that move, Jones said, “I don’t like facing him so that should give you your answer.”

Jones said he had recently gotten off the phone with Orioles reliever Michael Gonzalez, and the two were talking about the improvements the team has made this offseason, further adding to his excitement for spring training.

“They brought in some good players, point blank,” Jones said. “There’s nothing else you can say about that. They brought in good young talent [in J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds], a good veteran first baseman [in Lee]. And you [know] he is a true first baseman. You don’t have to move [Luke Scott] there and have him learn a new position. You have to play first base good because that’s an important position for your infield, and he knows what he’s doing over there.”

Jones was particularly excited about the potential Lee signing. He said he knows Lee’s brother and father from living in the Southern California area, but he’s looking forward to getting to know Derrek better.

“He’s a great dude,” Jones said. “I think he’s going to come in fit in and add that leadership. He’s going to take this team where it needs to go. That was a real good move. He’s one of the first guys I thought of [earlier this offseason].”

As for the current state of the team, Jones said: “We look good right now. I’m excited. We have a good young nucleus, and they are adding some veteran pieces. We can win. I don’t care what these other teams are doing. I don’t care what the Red Sox have done, what the Yankees are doing. You still have to go out and play. I’m not afraid of any of those teams. We have a better team, and I’m excited.”

Jones, who is staying in San Diego this offseason, has been working out and taking batting practice at San Diego State University. There, he has worked a little with Gwynn, who coaches the Aztecs baseball team. Jones said that he has also worked with Gwynn occasionally in past offseasons.

“I don’t know when I have to be at spring training, but I’m excited,” Jones said.

The conversation did turn slightly somber when Jones was asked about his teammate Alfredo Simon, who is being held by authorities in Dominican Republic and facing questions about his role in a shooting over this past weekend. Jones has been supportive of Simon in the past.

“That’s going to be handled by the authorities,” Jones said. “He’s in a situation that nobody wants to be in. I’ve read whatever I can read on it. He’s saying that he’s not the guy to do it. I hope it’s true, and I hope I see him at spring training.”

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 10:54 PM | | Comments (23)
        

Comments

Oh the many nights I spent loving in the Southern California area... but not with family members of the Lee family :)

Working with Tony Gwynn heh? Does that mean he is going to learn to stop swinging at sliders in the dirt?

Because last time I looked, Pie plays center field too.

It is time for Jones to fish or cut bait. Or, is he the second coming of Jeffery Hammonds?

Now it's time for the Orioles annual "Stupid And Senseless Move". I predict this years senseless move will be trading Scott to the Rays for James Shields, a pitcher on the down side of his career. No matter he gives up nearly 6 runs a game now, HE'S AN INNINGS EATER. So's Miguel Bautista for that matter. The Orioles will then sign either Branyan or Thome to take Scott's place. 2 more players on the down side of their careers. I believe the Orioles have come this far this off season just to end up shooting themselves in the foot as Scott will end up killing them during them the regular season.

I agree this team may just have put itself in contention with the last 2 moves they have made. If the young players for the most part continue to establish themselves and you throw in the defense and power that the new infielders bring to the table. The bullpen looks good with a lot of options late in the game. They just need the starting pitching to grow up and pitch like they are capable and although I see Boston as the class of the division now, I think the O's may be on the verge of finally breaking the 13 year losing streak and playing meaningful games in September. All the haters out there will find reason to complain but I am giving Andy credit for getting a good manager, getting the prospects that he traded for and drafted to the majors and now using the free agent market to fill in the rest of the pieces. This could be a very dangerous team that will only get better as the season goes on.

To have a successful season, I believe that the Os will need a HUGE season from Adam Jones!

Jay from Connecticut,
Time for Jones to fish or cut bait? Are you seriously talking about Adam Jones? After a terrible start, ended up hitting .284 w/ 19 HRs. He compares favorably with Jay Bruce who we were trying to get at one point in the Bedard trade. Yes, Jones needs to improve, but so do all young hitters. He also had a couple of bonehead drops last year but they seemed to disappear once Buck came along. Jones is no Jeffrey Hammonds.

After reading this post I'M excited about 2 things: (1) Jones is spending the off season with a bat--and not a gun--in his hands. (2) Jones is thinking and talking about baseball instead of showering us with opinions about issues not related to his sport.

John K.
I know there is an over abundance of whiney griping about everything Orioles, but seriously, making up a pretend bad trade and then criticizing it as if it really happened, and even complaining about a pretend trade of Scott who you end by saying will kill us in the regular season anyway??? Get a cup of coffee and breathe dude.

nice to hear the enthusiasm from AJ. being around Tony Gwynn can't be a bad thing either. While he was commenting on the addition of Lee, Hardy, Reynolds and now Gregg, I couldn't help but consider the new coaching staff as being right up there in importance for the coming season. It seems to me that Buck has hand picked these guys and that they will be able to address the weaker points of a given player and further their development. In AJ's case, Presley can go over and over with him about pitch recognition, and ultimately cut down on those all-to-familiar two strike sliders in the dirt. Kirby can work with AJ and also Pie on their baserunning and help them reach their potential. there were times last August and September where I saw Kranny talking to Buck in the dugout during a game and Buck looking really bored as if Kranny was making some lame comment that Buck had already figured out. These hand-picked "other set of eyes" will be not only a breath of fresh air, but an invaluable addition to a team that is clearly improved from last year.

I can see this team going .500+ and taking third place if the pitching is good and Lee,Hardy and Reynolds return to form. The O's need a #1 starter, a true ace to put this team in contention.

I like the attitude, AJ. Good for you. Stay positive, and please don't regress, again.

I dig that he's working with the Aztecs and Tony Gwynn.

John, where did you hear that the Orioles were thinking of trading Scott for Shields? I don't remember that one being talked about and I don't think you have to worry about it happening. The Orioles believe Scott is a key cog in whatever they do this upcoming season and won't trade him unless they are totally overwhelmed or unless they have a real possibility of signing Guerrero or Thome, which I hope they don't.

Yup, Jones is showing that maybe he can keep progressing, he's only 25, 26. The improvement in the lineup should help him and Wieters, protect them a little better and take the pressure off. No longer will those two be thought of as the keys, now they can relax and let Markakis, Scott, and Reynold carry the offense, with help from everyone else. Should be an interesting year.

I'D LIKE TO HAVE A TEAM FULL OF THOSE .284 W/ 19HRs

This was a great read. Its wonderful to know that Jones is so excited. Perhaps he feels a little less pressure than last year, when trying to live up to All Star and Gold Glove expectations.
First a new manager, now an all new staff. It will be so interesting to see how hitters develop, especially (to me) Jones, Pie, and Wieters.

The O's need a #1 starter, a true ace to put this team in contention.

Probably not in '11, but by '12 Matusz should fill that role.

Thank goodness, finally some well deserved optimism. There is every reason to believe that the Orioles will be substantially better this season and post a winning record. Just how good is, as it always is in baseball, a wait and see.

Love all the moves, but the one thing I would have liked to see was the signing of a veteran SP. Would have liked to see them sign a high reward type veteran coming off injury to an incentive laden contract. One of the following would have been perfect: duchscherer, chris young, webb, harden or maybe even a ben sheets (the last two are shaky gambles)

I agree with Jones that the new guys will make us much better. Assuming good health, with the new acquitions, everyone in the lineup should be improved with betterteam balance. My predictions:
Roberts .285 10 Hr 55RBI
Markakis.310 22 90
Lee .290 26 102
Reynolds.245 37 110
Scott .270 27 88
Jones .290 30 96
Weiters .275 20 78
Hardy .260 16 68
Pie .266 11 57

Matusz 14-10 3.32era
Guthrie 15-13 3.55
Bergessen14-9 3.79
Arietta 13-9 4.21
Tillman 10-12 4.40

Johnson 3-2 2.95 4 saves
Gonzalez 3-4 4.05 3
Gregg 4-3 3.68 32
Uehara 6-2 2.45 24
Accardo 2-1 4.60 1
Rest of staff 4-9 5.35
Record 88-74 possible wild card if most are healthy.

Woodieman,
I would love for you to be right.

Love the high hopes but lets be real. On just about everyone's homeruns you need to minus at least 5. On everyone's ERA you need to add .5.

WOLFMAM, good stuff. Some people just have to make up negative crap, like JOHN K, when there is none to be discussed. STUPID AND SENSELESS O'S MOVE?...John K, that's a winner in the category of STUPID AND SENSELESS POSTS. LOSER!

WOLFMAN!!!
SORRY, BROTHER.

Jay from Connecticut said:
Time for Jones to fish or cut bait? Are you seriously talking about Adam Jones? After a terrible start, ended up hitting .284 w/ 19 HRs.

But buy the time he started to hit we had already lost a lot a games which can't be made up b/c he ENDED up with 19 hrs. Not relevant . He needs to produce in every game not just the 2nd half.

We stand a better chance in this division than people give us credit for. You won’t find me putting money on this team, but I don’t think we should be brushed aside. Don’t forget we had the 2nd best record in the AL after Showalter came aboard, and I think we’d all agree that he’s got a better group of people to work with than he did when he took over. The Yankees don’t have much of a rotation, an aging “core 4,” with an upset Jeter and an open market, which for reasons no one can figure out, has not been friendly towards them. Tampa has sold off its team and doesn’t figure to be a force next season. Toronto has lost Gaston, though they were the most underrated team in baseball last season, and has never done very well without him. Boston seems like a safe bet to win the division, but with a little bit of that Red Sox curse and a pinch of Orioles magic we could very well make an impression this season. I’m hoping for 81 wins, but this organization has made bigger turnarounds in the past. Winning the AL East, Why Not? <There’s a pun there.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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