Bringing Russy Back
After spending the 2005 season as a starter with the Jays infielder Russ Adams has been terrible with the Jays and this has meant a step back in his development.Â That is, until the 26 year oldÂ has been called up to the Jays again and has been hitting and throwing like an established Major Leaguer.Â
I will admit I have been extremely critical of Russ Adams in posts from the end of last year and in the off season. And while I am usually pretty good at holding a grudgehe has entertained me the last couple weeks.
The Jays had high hopes when he was picked as a first rounder in 2002 out of UNC. In 2005 he had established himself as the full time shortstop as a 24 year old and put up respectable middle infielder numbers .256/.325./.363 (better than the Jays have got this year out of their SS). These numbers were comparable to hisMiL stats. Adams started the 2006 season asa fixture in the Jays infield. The Jays felt confident enough in Adams and Aaron Hill that they traded Gold Glover and fan favourite Orlando Hudson.
However, 2006 began as a disaster for both Adams and Hill. Neither one were hitting, and Adams seemed affected with the same ailment that ended the careers of Chuck Knoblach and Mackey Sasser could not throw. Adams could not make routine plays in the field (luckily for Hill his fielding allowed the Jays to overlook his average below the Mendoza line and has since been one of the most consistent performers). Adams was moved from his natural shortstop to second base to see if that would help but to no avail, he was sent to the minors with an average of .219, an OPS around .600 and a fielding average of .928 at short. He also had an inability to put the ball in play striking out 41 times in 250 ABs.
Adams tore up Syracuse in ’06 but in any call up he seemed out of place unless being used as a pinch runner.
It was determined in the offseason that Adams would spend 2007 in Syracuse to see if his mechanics could be worked out and hopefully rebuild his confidence. This caused the Jays to have a hole at shortstop they filled with a relic in Royce Clayton. The Clayton experiment was a bust and light hitting utility man John McDonald came to the rescue again. Pathetically light-hitting he has not been able to come close to Adams’ humble 2005 numbers but he is solid and spectacular in the field, a balance the Blue Jays were forced into making by the complete incompetence in the field and at the plate of other such as Adams, Clayton and fill ins such as Ryan Roberts, Howie Clark and co.
Adams had a solid but not spectacular season at the plate in Syracuse this season. He did show some pop that he has never had before and more importantly he got his K rate back to where it has been previously in his career. Adams was supposed to be a line-drive contact hitter coming out of college and he continued that in his MiL career and with the Jays in 2005.
Adams was called up in late August and since has been killing American League pitching. He has had clutch hits in the last two games against the Red Sox. Although he has had only 30 PA since being called up he has had an OPS over 1.000. He has been able to draw 8 walks but he has also struck out 5 times. Small sample yes, but this maybe be huge for his confidence. More importantly he has been able to fit into an unnatural postion; platooning at third base with Hector Luna while Troy Glaus is out for the season. More importantly, he has yet to make an error in 84 innings, mostly at third base.
So, what does this mean for the Jays middle infield next season? If Russ Adams does not self-destruct in the last couple of weeks the position is his in 2008. This will let Aaron Hill move back to short. It will put more capable bats in the lineup by getting Johnny Mac out of the starting line-up day to day but he will remain a immensely important support player. Ricciardi and Gibbons did not give up on Adams after the disaster of the Spring 2006 and he has proven, so far, through his work in Syracuse andthis year with the Jays that he does belong.
He had a pretty good September in his first call-up, too. I wouldn’t read anything into this – he’s an extra guy in the majors, tops.
As for moving Hill over to SS, JP Ricciardi mentioned on the FAN (not that his statements mean anything) that Hill requested to stay at 2B long term and he is going to honour that request. Jays assistant GM Alex Anthopolous confirmed it this afternoon on the Chuck Swirsky show.
Adams is not all-star or GG calibre but he has the promise to be better at SS than anything hte Jays have had for a long time. Aaron Hill may have the skills to win a GG or be an all-star 2B.
I saw “Russy” in Syracuse this year and his D at third was adequate, probably at the level where one could live with it in the majors. The Chiefs
Lost my comment;
Anyways, I went on to say that his lack of SBA attempts and his low BABIP (.285, team average was .308) don’t help his cause.
He does have positional flexability and I think should make the club in 2008 as a middle infield backup that can pinch run when needed.
One thing he has working for him is his LH bat, which managers still dig. After Overbay the Jays don’t have much. Like last year, SS is a major hole, Johnny Mac makes the spectacular plays but still makes routine errors. Awesome defensive specialist but it hurts when you PH for him and then have a lesser SS go in to play in close games in late innings. If Adams can put up 2005 number, he would be a better choice than Johnny Mac. Any stud ss out there for JP to throw cash at coming up this year?
If Johnny Mac starts every game the rest of the season, he will qualify for the fielding title and will win it handily…
When it comes to McDonald, I think the question should be how many bats are the Jays willing to give up? With the catchers doing what they do, the Jays have two sub-standard bats in their lineup. In the AL east, this isn’t a wise decision. In the off-season, they need to upgrade the bat at either SS or C.
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