Adam Jones returns to Seattle today. It isn't the first time and it certainly won't be the last time. At some point, the sting of seeing him in a Baltimore Orioles uniform will subside for Mariners fans.
Should it have happened by now? Perhaps.
But I think it makes it tougher for Mariners fans to move on considering Jones is in the midst of a breakout year that's turning him from talented prospect into legitimate star.
At what point, do we stop calling it "The Bedard Trade" and call it the "the Jones trade" or even worse for Mariners fans "The Jones-Tillman Trade" because Jones and Chris Tillman could ultimately be the more relevant and celebrated players in the deal.
Of course, some people would rather call it: "The-crowning-example-of-the-total-incompetence-and-ineptness-of-Bill-Bavasi-that-destroyed-the-Mariners-as-an-organization-in-an-veiled-attempt-to-save-his-job Trade."
I think it's safe to say that the trade of Jones, Tillman, LHP George Sherrill, RHP Kam Mickolio, LHP Tony Butler for Bedard will go down as the worst in Mariners history, replacing the infamous swap of Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997 by Woody Woodward.
It seems anymore one of popular things to do is to look back and remind people who was for and against the trade.
To be honest, I was pretty non-committal on the trade. I didn't know much about Bedard other than his talent and some injury issues. I knew even less about everybody else involved with the exception of Jones. I covered Adam at Triple A Tacoma for a season and a half, and never once did I think he wouldn't become a quality big leaguer. Did I know he would be this good? This soon? No and no. But I knew he was driven to be this good. He was competitive, willing to work his butt off and ridiculously talented.
As someone who has very high expectations and old-school ideas about the game and the way it should be played, I never really had any complaints when I watched Adam play. Sure he struck out a few more times than I liked, but I loved that he seemed to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. Several times, I saw him look bad in his first at-bat, learn from it and deliver a hit in the next one. And above all else he played hard.
In that regard, I didn't like the trade. Yes, Jones was a prospect that hadn't played much time in the big leagues, but to me he was about as sure of a thing as you could get. The Mariners had invested into Jones and were starting to see benefits and they got rid of him to add Bedard and ostensibly replace Jones' projected starting spot in the line-up with Brad Wilkerson. Nice work Mr. Bavasi.
Either way, I'm hoping Mariners fans find a way to move on. Will it be easy when Jones comes rolling in with his .350 batting average with 11 home runs, 36 RBI, 40 runs scored and .401 on-base percentage and .617 slugging percentage? No, it will be downright painful to watch.
Maybe you can adapt the whole situation to follow the much-used and now almost cliché (but who am I to not to fall trap to one) of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief: 1. Denial, 2. Anger, 3. Bargaining, 4. Depression and 5. Acceptance.
I would hope Mariners fans are at least at stage 4.
1. Denial – well with the rumors for weeks most of the denial came from the parties involved. But there were some people that just refused to believe that Bavasi gave up 5 players, including the organizations best and most-ready prospect, probably it's best minor league starting pitching prospect, their best left-on-left specialist and two other decent players for one guy. People refused to believe that Bavasi would give up so much. They should have known better based on past experiences with him.
Or perhaps the denial begins with not allowing yourself to believe that Bedard was injured for most of last year and the Mariners tanked or that Jones should and probably will be an all-star this season.
2. Anger – I'll give DMZ from the USS Mariner credit he wasn't pleased with the trade even when it wasn't finished check out the quote from the post.
Ugh. What a crappy deal. I know we've discussed it to death here before, but every time it's laid out like that it makes me want to throw up in my M's cap. And then mail the cap to the team.
I still think most people might be have a similar feeling about it now, or moved back to the anger phase after seeing what Jones is doing this season.
3. Bargaining – Some of that's happening right now for M's fans: "Well, Bedard is pitching like the pitcher we thought we got in the trade, maybe we can trade him at the deadline for some prospects." It's a nice premise. But are they going to get back anybody as good as Jones or Tillman or both in a trade this year? Hmm. I just wrote how good Jack Z is. But is he that good?
4. Depression – that will set in when Jones hits a three-run bomb deep into the Safeco night and then makes a stellar running catch in the outfield. It will be enough to ruin your Pyramid Curve Ball blonde ale with tears of melancholy.
5. Acceptance – well, that just isn't easy for some people right now.
But really, it's time to move on. I'd tried to talk with Adam on Saturday to write something before he came in today. At first, he was receptive, but the realization of answering a myriad of similar questions today from all the local media changed his mind.
What I wanted to ask and what I wanted to write is that it's time for everyone to move on, media included. He has. It's something he's mentioned to me last year. He's the type of person who constantly wants to move forward. And sitting there dwelling on or analyzing the trade or discussing about what might have been is something he doesn't like to do.
Yes, the Mariners organization drafted and nurtured him in the minor leagues, but he only played 73 games with big club. As he said in the past, his sentimentality to the Mariners fans and Safeco is limited because he really didn't get a chance to experience it for an extended period. He probably has more personal attachment to Tacoma than he does Seattle, since he spent more time there.
Will it be good to see Adam today? For me, yes. For Mariners fans, probably not. But he is no longer yours to cherish. It may be a horrible mistake. It may be the product of incompetence. And it may leave you feel like a jilted lover. But Adam Jones is now a member of the Baltimore Orioles. And nothing short of a flux capacitating time machine is going to change that. So perhaps, no matter how difficult it seems, it is just best to accept it and move on.