The Adam Jones Conundrum

Dave · May 23, 2007 at 8:09 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Down in Cheney Stadium yesterday afternoon, Adam Jones went 3 for 5 with a home run. Or rather, I should say, another home run. Becaue he went 3 for 5 with a home run on Monday, too. He also launched one vs Tucson last Thursday, he hit two in Albuquerque on the 13th, and he hit one in Round Rock on the 10th. He has six home runs in his last 10 games and is hitting .351/.448/.703 in May.

Jones has taken clear steps forward across the board this year. He’s raised his walk rate from 6.7% last year to 10.2% this year while keeping his strikeout rate the same, showing that he’s working the count without staring at hittable pitches. He’s also raised his average without sacrificing power, hitting .321 with 36.5% of his hits going for extra bases. He’s hitting the ball on the ground more often this year, turning on fastballs and driving them through the hole between 3rd and SS. His route running has improved significantly, and while he’s still got some more room to go defensively, he’s now becoming much more of an asset with the glove.

Adam Jones is ready for the majors. If major league rosters and line-ups were simple talent competitions, where the best player in the organization got the job regardless of other factors, he would be the Mariners starting left fielder. He’s a better player today than Raul Ibanez in every aspect of the game.

However, Adam Jones is also one other thing that Raul Ibanez is not – right handed. As we discussed last week, the Mariners offense is already too RH heavy. With only Ichiro, Vidro, and Ibanez providing left-handed bats, the team has a power shortage whenever they face a right-handed pitcher, simply due to basic matchups.

The M’s can’t permanently replace Raul Ibanez with Adam Jones. Even if Raul wasn’t designated as Mariner For Life by the executives, this team cannot afford to sub out a left-handed bat for a right-handed bat and become even more unbalanced. And, being pragmatic, there’s just no way that Raul Ibanez loses his job to Adam Jones in the middle of a push for a playoff spot. It won’t happen.

But Adam Jones is one of the 5 or 6 best hitters in the organization right now, and with the team doing whatever it takes to try and win, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have that kind of asset hanging out in Tacoma and blistering Triple-A pitching.

What’s the answer here? Honestly, I wish I had one. Perhaps you trade Jose Guillen to a team that needs a power hitting outfielder, such as Minnesota, and install Jones in his place. But that doesn’t make the offense any better, since Guillen’s one of the shining stars of the first two months of the season. Maybe you call-up Jones and have him play the fourth outfielder role, starting over Ibanez against lefties and giving Guillen and Ichiro days off here and there. But then you’re asking Mike Hargrove to actually run something of a platoon, and to take a veteran out of the line-up in place of a kid, neither of which are likely to happen without an edict from heaven.

The M’s are in something of a quandary. They have a guy in Tacoma who can help them win games, a team in need of help, and no easy answers for how to fit a good hitter into the line-up. This is part of why we hated the last offseason – the M’s removed huge amounts of flexibility by tying up the DH spot, essentially eliminating the chance for Adam Jones to provide a spark during the season.

He needs to be on the team. I just don’t know how they pull it off.


198 Responses to “The Adam Jones Conundrum”

  1. atait on May 23rd, 2007 12:44 pm

    147 – and they didn’t have to pay 23 million or give up Jason Giambi to get those players.

    And do you really think Brian Cashman sees Jeff Weaver as a worthy reclamation project?


    Within a month, the Yanks’ pitching will be as follows:


    Not sure where Weaver might fit in there…

  2. joser on May 23rd, 2007 12:45 pm

    Formatting? No, this is definitely a work in progress, and the future is going to be better I’m sure.

    Content? Well, yes and no. There’s always at least one nut / crank / troll. If s/he gets too bad, or there gets to be too many of them, they end up in the mod queue or just have their posts nuked to oblivion until they go away or grab a clue.

    I’d say this discussion jumped the shark quite a while ago anyway. Fortunately there’s a game in a few hours, so there will be something to talk about beyond wild-eyed ravings about teams taking packages of M’s junk in exchange for a decent player, etc.

  3. Nuss on May 23rd, 2007 12:52 pm

    Agreed. Pretty good thread for a while, but eventually people just run out of meaningful things to say and it turns into a message board …

    Probably should have shut this down around comment 120.

  4. Spanky on May 23rd, 2007 12:53 pm

    Okay…my point being…

    In order for Jones to continue to develop and for the M’s to take advantage of what he has to offer, someone has to go. These are the most likely candidates:

    Guillen: Helping the team right now. Has value on the market. Wouldn’t sit the bench quietly and professionally to watch a kid take his at bats.

    Sexson: Not helping the team now…but has a history of coming on in the 2nd half. Might have value in a trade if he heats up. M’s will never pay him $15.5 to sit the bench or be waived.

    Vidro: Helping the team some (if only that he’s not Everett). Little trade value. Makes too much to sit or be waived. M’s also loose a LH bat.

    Ibañez: The face of the M’s and a link to glory days. Might have some trade value for someone who wants a LH bat. But the M’s lose their LH bat.

    Of these three, I would like to find an opportunity where Sexson moves along and we juggle the rest.

  5. PositivePaul on May 23rd, 2007 12:56 pm

    Nope – this will be the last thread for a long time where pointless madeup trades will be allowed.

    Oooh. Oooh. Oooh. I better sneak this one in, then:

    Julio Mateo for Elijah Dukes.

  6. Sports on a Schtick on May 23rd, 2007 12:57 pm

    Worst-case scenario Jones becomes a regular in 2008 right? That doesn’t sound too bad. I’d love to see the guy earn regular PT but there’s 10 other things I’m more concerned with regarding the M’s long-term success.

  7. huhwhat on May 23rd, 2007 1:02 pm


    141, was a joke, cause what I see what Vidro gives the Mariners 8-10hr, 50 Rbi’s, 50 runs from a position that we should be getting way more production from, I mean Jack Cust has already outperformed Vidro at the DH position and it only took him 10 games and $7 million dollars less a year.

    143 – Yes Weaver has struggled before and has somewhat rebounded in the NL only and even then he was mediocre at best, not worth what he’s making. It makes no sense for the Yankees to pick up Weaver for a second go around, especially considering the first go-around wasn’t any better than what there getting out of there patch-up minor leaguers who don’t make the millions that Weaver makes. I just don’t understand the reasoning, because if Weaver has shown that he can bounce back like you say and the Yankees who need pitching use that as a reason to take him, then shouldn’t the Mariners keep him instead and move Baek since Weaver will bounce back so much so that another team is willing to take him and his salary? Last time I checked the Mariners still need pitching also.

  8. Mike Snow on May 23rd, 2007 1:07 pm

    Nope – this will be the last thread for a long time where pointless madeup trades will be allowed.

    Wonderful. It was beginning to look like some people believed magic beans really existed.

  9. bakomariner on May 23rd, 2007 1:15 pm

    Reitsma to the DL…Green back up from Tacoma…

  10. atait on May 23rd, 2007 1:25 pm

    Paul – it should be a three-way deal w/Alberto Callaspo…

  11. awolfgang on May 23rd, 2007 1:35 pm

    What’s the limit of players on the DL for sucking? Does the MLB ever question or investigate bogus use of the DL?

  12. DMZ on May 23rd, 2007 1:38 pm

    MLB very rarely investigates DL fraud: you pretty much have just run over one of Selig’s grandkids or otherwise incurred his wrath for the league to even bat an eyelash.

    Texas managed this a couple years ago, and that’s the only instance I can remember where MLB went after someone.

  13. Beniitec on May 23rd, 2007 1:44 pm

    Wonderful. It was beginning to look like some people believed magic beans really existed.

    Magic beans… hilarious. Wait… Steinbrenner has already cornered the market on those… or is it Giambi?

    Last time I checked the Mariners still need pitching also.
    Let me see, Weaver had a 4.04 ERA and a 5.99 ERA with the Yankees. He’s got a 14.32 ERA with the Mariners.

  14. Beniitec on May 23rd, 2007 1:47 pm


    How do Adam Jones’ numbers project if he were moved up to the big club? I’m curious.

  15. ivan on May 23rd, 2007 1:47 pm

    If he’s so damn good bring him up and put him in the lineup and quit worrying about this lefty-righty stuff. If he can hit, he can hit. If they had nine Albert Pujolses in the lineup we wouldn’t be worrying about stuff like this.

  16. robbbbbb on May 23rd, 2007 2:10 pm

    I wonder: How far away is Triunfel, and is he going to force the same kind of decision on the M’s?

  17. Russ on May 23rd, 2007 2:12 pm

    botched abortion

    That is one ugly descripter and a hideous visual. EC, you have a much better vocabulary then that.

  18. scraps on May 23rd, 2007 2:17 pm

    If you have nine Albert Pujolses, you don’t worry about anything. If you have zero Albert Pujolses — if you don’t even have half an Albert Pujols — you have to worry about the lefty-righty stuff, and other irritating problems that make the brain hurt.

  19. dgarnett on May 23rd, 2007 2:36 pm


    meh, i’ll take nine mini-ditkas

  20. JI on May 23rd, 2007 2:49 pm

    167 I thought that was the sign of a good vocabulary.

  21. eponymous coward on May 23rd, 2007 2:52 pm

    Russ, have you ever WATCHED Morse play the middle infield? I have. “Hideous” and “ugly” are quite apropos. Morse is not suited to being a middle infield backup. We’d be better off with Dawkins or Chen if we really wanted to punt Bloomquist- and I don’t think either of them would hit any better than he does at this point.

  22. Ralph Malph on May 23rd, 2007 3:05 pm

    If you have a good fielding middle infield combo (which I think we do), the fielding ability of the backup is not critically important. I’d rather have a guy who can hit and who can play the position if you absolutely need him to than have a guy who can’t hit .100 and plays so-so defense, which is what we’ve got.

  23. Gomez on May 23rd, 2007 3:11 pm

    A thought to ponder: Could Guillen be sent away before 2008, and Ichiro move back to RF in order to allow Jones to step in?

  24. Ralph Malph on May 23rd, 2007 3:18 pm

    Sure he could but Guillen is one of the few productive hitters on the team. That swap only makes sense if you get something pretty good back for Guillen. Otherwise you’re just dumping salary.

  25. eponymous coward on May 23rd, 2007 3:30 pm

    Except, well, Morse a) doesn’t hit well enough to justify not playing Yuni or Jose regularly, b) can’t really play SS or 2B very well AT ALL, he was horrible at SS during his callup, and I don’t recall him playing much 2B if ever, c) Willie’s actually being used less than he’s been in years past- correctly as a deep bench backup (though he should ONLY be playing the infield, and Ellison should be the primary OF backup), and d) Willie’s not a .100 hitter any more than he was a .455 hitter in 2002- he is what he is, a .250 hitter with nothing else but speed and a flexible glove, going through a cold streak.

    Theoretically, you could have Dmitri Young, Jason Giambi or David Ortiz as your backup middle infielder, too, and just let them field with their bat… but you’d be coughing up too much defense. Morse really doesn’t belong in the middle infield for the Mariners, period, and Morse is not really THAT much better a RH bench bat than Ellison, anyway (.296/.347/.440 vs LHP lifetime), so I’m not very convinced we NEED a RH bench bat who plays bad defense, on a team overloaded with RH position players, if it takes away the only credible middle infield backup, the best pinch runner on the roster… and we’re discussing maybe 100 plate appearances between now and September callups at the most.

  26. go_cougs on May 23rd, 2007 3:31 pm

    Does anyone think Ichiro would object to moving back to right field considering how long it took to move him to center field?

  27. Tom on May 23rd, 2007 3:34 pm

    In spite of the fact that Raul with 7 u’s is a leftie, he’d be the one you’d trade first just because, well, who is going to take on Richie Sexson’s $14.5 million salary in the thick of a pennant race? Plus, Richie is signed for next year too. So if you traded for Richie, you’d be getting him for 2008 as well as the 2nd half of this year, ouch.

    Also, Raul’s trade value is only going to go down, so you might as well trade him now, let’s face it. And plus, the way Ichiro is, well, Ichiro and Guillen seems to be slowly but surely returning to his 2004 on-the-field production version of himself, you may want the re-sign them both next year and with Turbo at DH, this would leave Raul as the odd-man out.

    And considering the M’s lineup would then feature 6 right-handed hitters and the fans are already looking for a change, the time will be coming very soon where the Mariners will be looking to trade Sexson and/or Beltre to create the perfect R/L balance and also to free up salary for starting pitching because God knows we’ll need it in the offseason.

    Stay tuned kiddies.

  28. Tom on May 23rd, 2007 3:35 pm

    #176-Ichiro will do whatever his team asks him to do as long as he feels it would help the team win. Obviously he can play any outfield position, the question will be what the team asks him to do.

  29. Bilbo on May 23rd, 2007 3:41 pm

    You bring him up now as the 4th OFer. If Grover doesn’t play him then fire his ass. Seriously, if Ichiro decides to walk then you want Jones up now getting his ABs so he is ready for the switch when it plays out. If you find a way to move Sexson, Raul, Guillen, Vidro down the road, great! But otherwise you let it play out. This team will be RH heavy until Sexson and/or Beltre are gone (not that I am advocating moving Beltre but that is one place they can get LHed).

    Two things I would do to go along with bringing Jones up:
    1. Make a “take it or leave it” offer to Ichiro by the ASB. If he declines you trade him.
    2. Exercise Guillen’s option. If Ichiro stays you trade him, otherwise you have your RF and CF.

  30. Ralph Malph on May 23rd, 2007 3:45 pm

    Being treated with respect is very important to Ichiro, I think. Making him a mid-season “take it or leave it” offer is not very respectful.

  31. Beniitec on May 23rd, 2007 3:59 pm

    It’s pretty stupid to leave Jones down in AAA if you’re going to replace Ichiro with him soon. You’d be wiser to let the kid play beside Ichiro the great for a while to pick up good habits.

  32. Gomez on May 23rd, 2007 4:08 pm

    Calling Adam Jones up to ride the pine for 110 of the next 120 games is not a wise call.

    Also, I noticed we’ve all but forgotten WLAD Balentien in this discussion. He’s not as close to the bigs as Adam Jones, but he’s out of options after 2007 and if he maintains a solid pace through 2007, you’re gonna have to make a call with him as well.

    As of 2007, sure, Guillen is pretty much one of the team’s best hitters. But is he honestly a key piece of the team’s short-to-long term plans? Does he maintain his performance through all of 2007, let alone into 2008? And what of the subsequent seasons, when you don’t have him under contract and will need to decide his fate? I’m not saying trade him now. But I’m also not saying it’s wise to pencil him in for 2008.

  33. Steve T on May 23rd, 2007 4:14 pm

    I have trouble with any scenario that includes the phrases “trade Sexson for” or “trade Weaver for”. These are not tradeable commodities. If I have a 1974 Ford LTD with no engine, transmission or paint that’s been outside for 20 years and has a sizeable tree growing up through the back seat, I’m not going to be getting any good deals down at the Lexus dealership.

    The correct answer to the conundrum is “bring him up and play him every day regardless of which side he bats from”, but the Mariner answer is paralysis followed by a Jones-for-random-38-year-old-pitcher trade later in the year.

    You go to the American League West with the offense you have, not the offense you wish you had, and any negative comments about our DH, 1B, LF, etc. just mean the terrorists win.

  34. PositivePaul on May 23rd, 2007 4:22 pm

    Does anyone think Ichiro would object to moving back to right field considering how long it took to move him to center field?

    Hmm. The real question is — would Jones object to moving over to RF, should Ichiro stay w/the M’s. I asked him a similar question (“Do you have any thoughts about learning RF this year in Tacoma?”) at the M’s Caravan stop in Oly back in January. His response: “No way, man, I’m a CF now…”

  35. Ralph Malph on May 23rd, 2007 4:29 pm

    If it meant getting called up to the majors, I can’t imagine Jones would object to playing anywhere on the field.

  36. JH on May 23rd, 2007 4:43 pm

    182: This post was about Jones, therefore Wlad’s been forgotten?

    Dave posted about Wlad 2 weeks ago. This one was about Jones, a more important part of the Ms’ future who deserves his own post.

  37. Gomez on May 23rd, 2007 4:48 pm

    You can’t just talk about Adam Jones and his future with the team in a vacuum. WLAD and anyone that’s involved with the future of that outfield is a factor.

  38. Dave on May 23rd, 2007 5:17 pm

    Wlad’s not ready for the majors – Adam Jones is. Therefore, there’s a conundrum with Jones, but not so with Wlad.

    Seems simple to me.

  39. Ralph Malph on May 23rd, 2007 5:32 pm

    Jones is a conundrum. Wlad is an enigma.

  40. Phoenician Todd on May 23rd, 2007 6:29 pm

    So, is Ichiro the riddle?

  41. Oly Rainiers Fan on May 23rd, 2007 9:57 pm

    And, after all the good press today (article in the TNT and elsewhere I believe), Adam Jones looked like absolute CRAP at the plate tonight. Two flyouts and two really miserable swinging strikeouts.

    Okay, so I’ve attended all but two of the Rainiers home games thus far this year, but I am most definitely no Dave.

    Jones is ready for the big leagues. He’s ready to be an everyday player there. That won’t happen given the Ms present state of affairs due to personnel logjam and foolish on-field roster management. So you leave him in Tacoma for now. I do not want to see this organization trading away a future talent of Jones’ caliber.

    If you’re gonna handpick amongst Tacoma’s infielders who could replace Willie, you’re looking at Mike Morse and there are no other options for you. Navarro and Dawkins are hitting either side of (or maybe spot on) .200 against AAA pitching and both have had their fair share of completely boneheaded defensive plays this year. That said, Morse has had a few boneheaded plays himself (one tonight) but he’s been far more consistent all around and can also spend time in the OF as could Willie.

    Wlad is great but he’s not ready. I love the guy, but I’m not convinced he’ll BE ready by the time his option year is up. His average has been dropping and he’s been showing some particularly pointless swings of late as well as defensive lapses. He’s not anywhere near as consistent as Jones has become, and that’s the key we’re really talking about that should take you up and let you stay there. Jones has it, and given playing time can keep it and even improve. Morse has it though it’s at an admittedly far lesser (utility player) level. Wlad doesn’t have it yet. Certainly Clement doesn’t (not even hitting .200 I think right now, looked clueless again tonight at the plate).

    You have a conundrum, but it’s based on a truly bizarre assumption at its’ root. That assumption being, we’re contending this year. Om, sure.

  42. Gomez on May 23rd, 2007 10:51 pm

    So leave him in Tacoma. If you can’t make a move without impairing the team in the process, then don’t.

  43. Dave on May 23rd, 2007 11:08 pm

    I think you missed the whole point of the post, Gomez.

  44. wsm on May 24th, 2007 6:36 am

    While the team is in “contention” someone will have to underperform drastically for Jones to get a shot. Really, only two players are potential benchables in positions Jones could play – Vidro and Guillen. Its fairly inconceivable that Sexson, Ibanez, or Ichiro are getting benched in any circumstances this year. The M’s are pleased with what Vidro and Guillen are doing this year, so we’re looking at probably at least a month of slumping before management would move on benching either of the two. Best-case scenario for Jones if the M’s keep winning – Vidro’s average free-falls to .260 and Jones is called up to LF in late June.

    If the M’s continue to lose ground in the AL West, then the issue becomes easier. Guillen is a very marketable commodity and trading him would allow Ichiro to shift back to RF. If Vidro carries his .300 avg. into July, he’ll also have some value to other teams that can’t get past that stat – especially if the team can demonstrate he can play 2B again. Then of course there’s trading Ichiro.

    Unless someone gets hurt, we won’t see Jones until July at the earliest I’m guessing.

    Of course if I was running the team there’s no question that Vidro goes to the bench, Raul goes to DH, Jones goes to CF, Ichiro goes to RF, and Guillen goes to LF. Tomorrow. That move would also free up the team to trade Broussard to someone like the Twins.

  45. Beniitec on May 24th, 2007 7:37 am

    Why would you move Ichiro out of CF? Do you believe that Adam Jones is a better CF defensively than Ichiro? Would Ichiro interpret that as a disgrace of some sort? As a former CF, CF is the “commander” of the outfield. Putting a rookie at CF and moving your other outfielders around doesn’t seem like a good move. Unless Ichiro is itching to get out of CF.

  46. Gomez on May 24th, 2007 12:01 pm

    My question is: will it seriously impair Adam Jones to stay in Tacoma at least for the rest of the year? Does bringing him up significantly improve the team?

    Making a move just to make a move, bring a guy up just to bring him up, is generally a rash line of reasoning. The guy in question would have to be a truly special talent to warrant it, and you’ve already mentioned in an earlier thread that while Jones is good, he’s not necessarily special.

    Is there some sort of study of recent guys whose performance in AAA clearly indicated they were ‘ready’, but were left behind for the season due to a lack of openings with the big club?

  47. Gomez on May 24th, 2007 12:52 pm

    And don’t worry, Dave. I see your point, that there really isn’t an answer here and it’s a case where you have an MLB ready talent in Tacoma that you have no real place for right now in Seattle. These are all just thoughts and questions.

  48. Dave on May 24th, 2007 1:51 pm

    This post wasn’t so much about Adam Jones being impaired, as much as it was a note that the 5th or 6th best major league hitter in the entire organization can’t find a spot on the 25 man roster.

    Jones won’t be harmed by staying in Tacoma, no, but the Mariners playoff chances will be by not having him on the team.

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