Adam Jones played 14 seasons in the major leagues and from 2008-2018, he was the Baltimore Orioles center fielder. Two years into retirement, he stays close to the game.
On this week’s episode of The Adam Jones Podcast, Jones and host Jerry Coleman talk to former Oriole Brian Roberts about what they think is special about this season’s team.
As the Orioles prepare for their home opener, we asked Jones five questions about this season’s team.
What record do you predict for the Orioles this season and where will they finish in the AL East?
Jones: Prediction 82-80 but they make the third wild card. I think they are going to have to battle all season because teams know they’re coming and aren’t afraid. Their offense is pesky as hell and they are extremely athletic, so runs will be scored. There’s no concern about that. The biggest challenge, as always, is pitching and health. There’s gonna be a point where some of their prospects will need to be dealt for a big arm and you know I love pitchers Corbin Burnes or Brandon Woodruff.
Which player do you think will be most critical to the Orioles’ success?
Jones: Obviously, all eyes are on the phenom catcher Adley Rutschman but for me the ship doesn’t sail without center fielder Cedric Mullins. He’s proven he can get on base and cause havoc with his legs. He’s the table setter for the entire lineup. When he’s right the line can’t be stopped! Guys just need to follow suit and do their parts. Nothing more nothing less. Now on the pitching side, I think starting pitching is always a concern. And that’s for all 30 teams. The O’s are going to need 1-2 starters to take a big leap until the return of John Means. Now, I don’t know who it will be but there’s talent there.
What series are you most looking forward to seeing?
Jones: This is an interesting one as I look for times of the season. I always said talk to me June 1 because I’m going to put my head down and grind without looking at numbers. The O’s need a good start because as the season goes on, you get tired and with a younger team and guys who haven’t experienced 162 games before it will be a challenge. I don’t think any team can disrupt them anymore because they know they can play, I think their fatigue levels and how they handle that will be the biggest challenge. Especially in the dog days of August.
What will be manager Brandon Hyde’s biggest challenge?
Jones: Brandon Hyde’s biggest challenge this year will be how to hold these youngsters back. They’re hungry and want to compete daily and there will be times when he’s gonna have to rest guys and make sure that they’re fresh. Players don’t like to sit especially if healthy but with the proper communication which Orioles GM Mike Elias and Hyde have, I’m sure they have a plan (always adjustable) to make sure guys get off their feet. Also with the DH leaguewide you can get Adley off his legs now and again.
How do you think the new rules implemented this season will hurt or help the Orioles?
Jones: First and foremost I believe the new rules and base size will help the O’s. They have so much speed and dynamic players that the 4.5 inches more of base is like a foot for their speed guys. No shifts for lefties will definitely allow for more hits but you have to be more conscious about putting the ball in play as strikeouts never help.
But to the contrary, this same thing can hurt them as other teams will be implementing similar styles. So the defensive adjustments will need to be made quickly as things happen extremely fast in the show!