Jon Jay Gets Paid For Being Okay.

So Cardinals GM John Mozeliak did the one thing I was hoping he wouldn’t do.  He gave a multi-year contract to Jon Jay.  I can’t say I am surprised, just extremely disappointed.  I know Jay is well liked, and a team leader and all that, but he just is not the best player to be the starting center fielder for the Cardinals.  The money is not really the issue, it is not a lot of money, so I can’t complain about that.  I can, however, complain about the fact that he is being paid for a role that he shouldn’t have.  The Cardinals have 3, count them, 3 players who can play CF right now that are either already better than him or have the potential to be better than him.  Jay gets a lot of fan love, and I am sure he is a nice guy and all, but dammit, he is just not that good.  He really, really isn’t.  Yet he is going to get most of the playing time in 2015, while he is blocking players who can give the team more production than he can.

Jay really has only one skill.  His skill is to hit mostly singles and get on base due to an extremely high BABIP (batting average on balls in play).  BABIP is influenced by 3 factors: defense, luck and talent level.  Most of the time very high BABIP’s are unsustainable.  They fluctuate from year.  I call Jay’s ability to hit for a high BABIP a skill because he has been able to sustain an above average BABIP for several seasons.  Most players are unable to do this.  So Jay likely has developed the ability somehow to sustain an above average BABIP.  That does not guarantee he will continue to do so, however.  Moreover, Jay’s BABIP in 2014 was extremely high, even for him, which tells me that 2015 is not going to be a repeat of 2014 as far as Jay’s hitting is concerned.

Jay does not have any other above average skill.  Even though Jay appeared to play defense better in 2014 as compared to 2013, his true talent level as a defensive CFer is no better than average. His base running skills are not good at all, he was particularly bad at it in 2014, making 10 outs on the base paths in 2014 (this does not include caught stealings and pick offs which are a separate stat).  Jay’s arm is one of the worst in baseball. He also hits for no power, not even doubles or triples power.  Eighty percent of Jay’s hits in 2014 were singles.

I suspect Jay’s longevity and popularity as well as his 2014 performance was more of a factor in this deal than they should be.  Rewarding players for past performance instead of likely future performance is something the Cardinals do quite often.  Even when it backfires on them like the Jaime Garcia deal did, and to a lesser degree the Allen Craig deal.  Though Jay’s deal is not a big financial burden, Jay will turn 30 years old very shortly, and most 30 year old players start to get worse, not better.  So whether Jay ends up being worth the deal, and worth blocking better players, remains to be seen.  The deal didn’t really save the Cardinals much if any money, so from a financial standpoint only, it doesn’t seem necessary.  It smacks of a reward for being a good guy and a good teammate while just being okay at baseball.

So no, I don’t like the deal at all.   Not even a little bit.  And as a fan of Peter Bourjos, seeing him get another year of sitting on the bench, when he has the talent to be a starter, doesn’t sit well with me.  It’s a huge waste of talent.

The signing of Jason Heyward was a huge coup for John Mozeliak and was very welcomed by me.  This deal takes a little shine off Mozeliak’s offseason in my opinion, however.



Thank you for reading.

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