With the announcement that Freddie Freeman plans to try out the position of third base to keep Matt Adams in the lineup when the All-Star returns from the disabled list, many raised an eyebrow and wondered if he could do it. Sports Radio 680 The Fan in Atlanta spoke to future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones on the Rude Awakening, which runs from 6 AM to 9 AM Monday through Friday, about the possible move.
The way I listened to the interview, it didn’t sound like Jones was a big fan of the move. I’ve pulled some quotes and the link to the full interview is at the bottom of the article if you’d like to hear the entire thing.
The first thing the 1999 NL MVP said about the move was this:
“I give him (Freeman) credit for being a team-first type of leader. I think that’s a really cool trait to have in your franchise player. He’s played first for so long. He’s worn that big glove for so long. There are some things that John Hart and John Coppollela have to think about before this move is made.”
Jones is referencing the question that every Braves fan has asked, which is if it is better to have him at third or better to trade Adams or keep him on the bench.
The Braves Hall of Famer then was optimistic about Freeman’s possible move to third – kind of.
“I’m not saying he can’t do it. I think if every ball were a two-hop ground ball that he could take a nice, big crow hop and throw across the infield, then everything would be fine. But there’s so much about third base… playing angles, throwing from different arm slots, catching balls down the line and these are things he’s not used to doing.”
Jones expanded on things that a third baseman has to be ready to do, and some if is stuff that the average fan or ball player doesn’t think about.
“You have to have that hockey goalie mentality. You’ve got to skate save balls. You have to knock them down because balls get at you so fast. All you have to do is knock it down and pick it up, and normally you have time to throw guys out.”
The former third baseman gave a shoutout to Ron Washington by stating “I haven’t seen a guy work that hard with infielders since I was in Rookie ball,” and that Freeman “is going to get as much work over there as he needs because Ron will be there for him.”
Not everything about playing the hot corner is about knowing how to throw or how to get in front of a ball coming at you, but it’s also about positioning. Jones says that you have to know how your shortstop plays so you know what position to be in.
“I knew those guys (Rafael Furcal and Andrelton Simmons) went to their right really well and covered the holes, so that allowed me to take a couple of steps to the line to cut off some doubles. A guy like Edgar Renteria, he went up the middle a little better (and) didn’t cover the hole as much, so I played a little bit off the line.”
Now here is the interesting part of Jones’ interview and it’s sort of the elephant in the room that no one is talking about. I won’t introduce anything, except state that this is former MVP talking about Adams’ start in a Braves uniform.
“I wonder how long that’s gonna last. Is he going to stay hot for the rest of the year? Is he going to come back down to earth? Is his stock at his peak? Is he going to be here long term? All of these are questions that need to be answered. If this is just a short-term thing and Adams is going to leave town at some point, then I don’t think this is a good move.”
Jones does say that if Adams is going to stick around for more than a year or two, then he could see the position switch happening. He also states that if Adams’ stock is as high as it’s going to get then the Braves always “have the ability to sell.”
I discuss possible trading partners for Adams here.
You can hear Chipper’s full interview here.