Does the Adam Jones extension represent a new day in Baltimore?
“How many chances do you get to add an MVP-caliber player to your club who wants to be there for a long time?”
That’s what former Orioles manager Lee Mazilli said in December 2003 when the team signed shortstop Miguel Tejada to a franchise record six-year, $72 million deal. His words could have applied again on Sunday when the O’s announced they extended centerfielder Adam Jones to a six-year, $85.8 million deal. With Tejada, the O's inked an established star. With Jones, the O's inked an upcoming star.
Tejada had already been an MVP by the time he came to Baltimore, winning the 2002 award at age 28 after leading Oakland to 103 wins and the A.L. West title by batting .308, with 34 home runs and 131 RBI. Jones, at 26, is in the midst of an MVP-like season that, judging by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette’s remarks, helped seal the long-term deal.
"Dude rang the cash register every time he hit a home run,” Duquette said. “I mean, Adam kind of forced the issue, didn't he?"
Thankfully, the circumstances surrounding the franchise appear to be different this time around as the Birds are looking to keep an established piece of the puzzle in the organization rather than trying to piece together a winner from outside the club.
When Tejada signed, then Orioles vice president Jim Beattie remarked that the deal was the "first part of what we're trying to accomplish this off-season." Compare that to Duquette's comment that Jones "will continue building the winning team." Thankfully, the O's are farther along in the process of becoming a winner than they were in 2003.
Tejada was a three-time All Star in Baltimore and two-time Silver Slugger who earned American League MVP votes during three of his four seasons. However, the O’s lost 84 games during Tejada’s first season and the team's loss total increased incrementally during each of the remaining years of his first tenure in Baltimore.
By the time Tejada was in Houston following a 2007 trade that netted the Orioles Luke Scott, Troy Patton, Matt Albers, Dennis Sarfate and Mike Costanzo, he was remembered as much in punchlines as he was for his punch. Take your pick: B-12 shots, Congressional testimony, lying about his age. Sadly, the team had become as much of a punchline.
Tejada was some 240 miles away from Baltimore in Norfolk when the Jones extension became official on Sunday. Here's hoping the team is likewise miles away from where it was when his was the big signing in Baltimore.
May 29, 2012