Boy, Jon Jay sucks this year huh?
Yeah, he does. At least offensively. His slugging % is .256. His OPS+ is 60(!). His OPB is a respectable .318, but it’s really only respectable if on occasion you actually can make 2 bases whenever you hit the ball. And Jon Jay, at least this year, can’t.
And he’s never really been able to either. His career ISO is .097, and while that is bad, when you throw in that he has pretty decent speed, you have to wonder about how many doubles Jay gets that are a result of good ball placement and the ability to leg a single into a double.
It’s getting worse. His ISO last year was .075. His ISO this year is .017. It’s hard to emphasize how weak you have to be to do that. He is a slap singles hitter.
But, we are talking about 132 plate appearances from a player that is a reliable 2 WAR player.
|Year / PA||WAR|
That’s pretty damned good. He has been a reliable starter. 2013 showed the dark side of relying on a Jon Jay-but other than that, if you give Jay 600 PAs, Centerfield will hardly be your biggest problem.
This year he has been God awful. Horrid. Want to know what his WAR is on offence this year? -0.2.
However, if you are going to fully buy into that, you are also going to have to accept this 2015 number:
Jon Jay has a 0.5 dWAR. In limited time. Jon Jay has been amazing on defense.
Now, after years of watching Jon Jay give up on balls Chris Duncan could have caught – and watching Jon Jay throw 72 foot rainbows that 15 hop their way to home plate, so you REALLY THINK JON JAY IS AMAZING ON DEFENSE?
Nah. He has spent his career being replacement level on defense, and frankly that’s probably where he still is.
And if we are going to discount his current dWAR for SSS, we should probably be realistic about his oWAR. When healthy Jon Jay is likely still at least a 2 WAR player. And you WANT 2 WAR players. 2 WAR players are good.
But the Cardinals happen to be pretty loaded in this particular category. Bourjos is easily a 2 WAR player. Grichuk is starting to look like he is better than both.
So what to do with Jon Jay?
Well, Jon Jay has to be healthy. He is a solid major leaguer, but he’s not spectacular, and he’s not worth playing while injured.
Jon Jay got injured. He couldn’t even grip a bat. He went on the DL where apparently he got better. In the meantime, Grichuk and Bourjos showed that – for at least right now – Jon Jay could take his time getting better. They were easily holding down the CF fort, and doing well.
In the meantime, the Cardinals lost Matt Adams, and thus lost their bench thump, and one of the few legitimate First Basemen on the team.
Jon Jay went on rehab.
Not to Memphis. To Single A.
And he went 0-10.
Now, if this was Mickey Mantle, you say screw it. I need Mickey Mantle. When he comes around, I want to do it on the Major League Club. If he says he is OK, get his ass up here.
But this was Jon Jay.
And the Cardinals should have said “Gee, it’s Single A, It’d be cool if he could at least get a hit”
Because they had the perfect opportunity.
They had a minor leaguer in Scruggs that plays 1B and hits for power, and had never been tested in the majors. They just lost a power hitting 1B.
They had more than enough centerfielders including a rookie looking to establish himself.
They had Jon Jay, a valuable player who is struggling, but could have played every day on a rehab assignment for an entire month.
Imagine had the Cardinals platooned both Grichuk and Peter Bourjos, while letting Scruggs be a threat off the bench and start against LHP, while Jay racks up the at bats in the minors and gets his singles stroke back.
And at any time – another injury – struggling center fielders – Scruggs goes 0 for 15 – whatever, they could have called Jay back up.
But instead they chose the worst option. Jay returned to the majors immediately, and he’s not right.
So what do we have now?
We have 3 center fielders for 2 positions. We have the ability to play more than one, but that takes benching Heyward or Holliday. Besides rest, those are plain stupid ideas. We shouldn’t even have to go into it.
We have Mark Reynolds with no real backup at first except for – seriously – Jon Jay.
So what should the Cardinals do with Jay?
Well, unfortunately, in the near future, you’re going to have to play him a little. He’s not better than Bourjos. He’s not better than Grichuk. But he is a solid player, and all 3 have good trade value. You can’t play the roster a person short. You can’t have him pinch hit nightly and hope his stroke will come back. He needs at least once a series, real at bats. Or he’s just a waste.
So no, I wasn’t mad to see Jay in the lineup in game 1. 1 game a series is fine with me. Grichuk should get 2-3 starts, and Bourjos should get 1, with Holliday or Heyward getting a day off in there.
And if you are going to start Jay in a game, it should be game 1 against a righty, so that maybe he can get some timing down and be more valuable off the bench.
I don’t like it any more than you do, but I believe to get the best out of Jay through trade or as a PH, that means he’s going to have to start a little right now.
But make no mistake. The Cardinals blew this move big time. Jay should have been ripping up minor league pitching and forced the Cards hands. Instead, he’s here, and we are stuck with a lesser version of him.
Frankly, the best thing that can happen is another DL stint, right now, and another chance at rehab.
Instead, I think we are going to get an Allen Craig like summer of watching a player hit .230 with zero power, while better options sit the bench a majority of the time.