Exit Interview: Jon Jay

For the fourth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season.  Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series.  All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis.   Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.

Player: Jon Jay

Season stats: 79 games, 245 PA, 25 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 2 CS, 19 BB, 36 K, .210/.306/.257, 56 OPS+, -0.2 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 8

Overall grade: D

Positives: Hit .261 and had a .346 OBP in April….hit .286 as a pinch-hitter….hit .571/.727/.571 in the second spot of the lineup (you will not be surprised to know that it was a very small sample size, 12 PA)….hit .381 with a 1-0 count….hit .281 with one out in an inning.

Negatives: Take your pick, but the simple fact that he had just seven extra base hits seems a good place to lead off….hit just .158 against left-handers, though he got 44 PA against them….hit .159 in the second half….hit .191 and slugged .230 as a starter….seriously, when your slugging looks like a fairly weak batting average, there are issues….hit .178 when there were no outs and when there were two outs, so at least there’s some consistency.

Overview: It’s difficult to find a lot of good here, isn’t it?  Jay does have some excuses, of course.  He started the season on the roster but still recovering from a wrist injury, a wrist that eventually put him on the disabled list for July and August.  How much that had to do with a lost offensive season is hard to tell, though he was definitely a lot worse than he’s been over the last few years, at least when you look at the season lines.  And yet, it’s not like he’s really ever been all that great.  He’s had his moments, but even the good averages have been fairly empty.

The problem, of course, is that Jay seems to be a favorite of the manager (though, to be fair, his extensive playing time down the stretch seemed to be more about seeing if he had anything than thinking he was the best option, since he was left off the postseason roster) and that he’s owed almost $6.9 million next season.  While that might be nice for Jay, it’s not exactly helping the Cardinals out.  The outfield is full of folks that can play it better than Jay can, no matter what you think of Tommy Pham, but that contract makes it unlikely that he can be dealt or cut.  For all the good John Mozeliak has done, this is something that’s come back to haunt him a bit.

Outlook: As noted, it’s pretty obvious that Jay will be on the roster next season.  It would also seem, though, that his playing time would be very limited, especially if Jason Heyward returns.  That would have three outfield starters, Pham, and Stephen Piscotty (who may play a lot of first) ahead of him on the depth chart.  Could we see Jay tossed into a deal with the Cardinals sending money to pay for his contract?  Maybe, though that’s not quite the modus operandi of the Redbirds.  More likely, they’ll hope his wrist heals in the offseason and he can be a tolerable pinch-hitter/occasional outfielder next season.

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