The Missing Argument for Starting Jon Jay

The 2015 Jon Jay experiment must end!

I’ll keep it simple with this short dose in between Cardinals games this evening. Mike Matheny needs to stop starting Jon Jay. The project “get Jay back to 2014 form” is dead and has been for a while. Imagine an old high school coach trusting that one legged guy who used to be good before well….he lost the leg, and yet the kid keeps starting. Why? What is going through his head? Where is the reasoning?

Please, save me the Jon Jay stats from 2011-14. I look up stats for EVERY article I write and know Jay’s stats very well. I’m a Jay fan and have defended him in the past or right up until this summer when his bat went limp. What he did last year has zero to do with what he isn’t doing this year. It’s like looking at old pictures of a cool car before its engine broke down. Seriously, don’t do that.

Case in point. Today, in a 1-0 game, Matheny had Jay bunt a runner over in the early innings. The #2 hitter bunting someone over. Tommy Pham wouldn’t do that and Stephen Piscotty wouldn’t do that. Last year’s Jay may not have done that. It’s a bizarre thing that did lead to one of the Cardinals’ runs but also left people scratching their heads.

In case you didn’t know, these Pirates games are super important. Like making that dinner with your in laws because it’s a steakhouse and not a Denny’s. Jon Jay shouldn’t start both games of a doubleheader. Like ever. Especially right now. There’s no way to break it down but do it like this.

For the season, in 203 at bats, Jay has 7 extra base hits. His .566 OPS is pathetic. His WAR is obsolete. In his last 7 games, he is 1 for 7. In his last 15 games, he is 6 for 30. In his last 30 games, he is 13 for 67. Ouch.com is where that belongs.

This is the time of the year where feelings and past connections need to stop. You may ask, if not Jay, who should start? Uh, how about Ray Lankford. I’m kidding. How about Pham?

In his last 7 games, Pham is 5 for 17. In his last 15 games, he is 16 for 44. In his last 30 games, he is 26 for 81. More at bats than Jay but that’s the point. Pham is more in tune and locked in. He also has 4 home runs and 14 RBI in that 30 game stretch. When he is hitting #2 or #6, Pham is a weapon. In just 145 at bats, Pham has 17 extra base hits. See a trend here yet?

Stop starting Jay. He may hit a squib up the middle for a single that eludes a glove(see Monday night) or he may get plunked in the butt by a pitch, but those are the best chances he has of reaching base and there is ZERO logic to start that accidental offense over a guy like Pham. With Piscotty still getting back into his skin after Monday’s collision in center field, Pham has to be the guy. He was inserted into today’s game for Jay, but maybe that was Matheny resting his guy.

I am a Matheny apologist but the one thing I can’t defend is his need to start weak hitting formerly decent outfielders over more electric younger players. There’s no defense lawyer in town who can take the stage in court and defend the reasoning of starting Jay in both games of a crucial doubleheader.

The 2015 Jon Jay experiment has to end. Try again in 2016. This is a lost season for Jay.

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7 Ways Matt Holliday can make an impact

After a short return in July followed by another quad injury, Matt Holliday is back and there are many ways he can help. Here’s 7.

imageedit_1_6786761481Health is finally reentering the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse, as Matt Adams is back in the starting lineup and Matt Holliday has been activated from the disabled list. Randal Grichuk has returned and made an impact, and within a week the Cards could be fully stocked with lethal weapons in the field. With the rise of Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty, guys like Holliday have been forgotten about a bit this summer. After all, Holliday has only played in 11 games since June 8th. His value can’t be misplaced by even the casual fan, but just how important may have lingered. Here are 7 reasons Holliday can make an impact.

7. He will force weaker bats to be weeded out of the lineup. Slumping bats like Brandon Moss, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos won’t be able to accumulate as many starts with Holliday returning to left field.

6. He will bring a sense of power back to the Cardinals lineup. Sure, 2015 hasn’t been a glamorous season for Holliday bombs(4 in 207 at bats), but everybody knows the big guy’s bat gets extra hot in September and always has the capability to launch one.

5. Love or hate the stat but Holliday likes coming up with meaningful hits. He was among the league leaders in game winning hits the past two seasons. His average with runners in scoring position is .400 with a .733 slugging percentage in 45 at bats in 2015. Over the past three seasons, his average with RISP(432 at bats) is .331.

4. He’s an on base percentage machine. Before he went down this season, pitchers were having a hard time getting this Hulk out. He had a .409 on base percentage when he reinjured the quad on July 29th.

3. He will stabilize the lineup. When you put Holliday back into the 3rd spot, Jhonny Peralta can be moved down and the lineup reloads so to speak. Piscotty can stay at #2 and Peralta, Molina and Adams can shuffle lower in the order. When Holliday was healthy and thriving, this lineup was scoring big time.

2. He likes playing his rivals. From 2012-15, Holliday is hitting .310(269-866) with 38 HR and 155 RBI off his National League division opponents.

1. The effect on the team. Any time you get a well respected veteran climbs back onto the active roster, the entire roster gets a boost. Rookies want to prove their worth and the fellow vets get an extra kick in the butt. The return of Holliday should help the Cardinals in many ways physically but mentally there will be an effect as well.

The N.L. Central has gotten too close for comfort, with the lead dangling down to as low as 2 games before play started in Milwaukee Tuesday. The return of Holliday can have a positive effect on this tiring Cardinals team. Expect the Hulk of Stillwater, Oklahoma to provide some big moments down the stretch once he gets his legs back at the plate.

Which returning Cardinal makes the biggest impact?

The Cardinals have compiled the league’s strongest record despite crippling injuries. Can some of the wounded birds be on the mend and what kind of impact can they provide?

As August ages into its final stretch, I wanted to look at the fleet of returning Cardinals and the impact they could have on the team. Most of the injured squad are hitters and that is something the team sorely needs as the page is turned onto the final few weeks of the season. As the Cardinals sit with a 5 game lead on the Pittsburgh Pirates, any help to an ailing lineup is welcome. Who is coming back and what can they offer?

Matt Adams

Rescue at first! The big guy headed to Florida Thursday for extended baseball activities and could be back in very early September. Adams’ effect is vital due to the inconsistent and quite missing production from first base. Brandon Moss hasn’t taken off, Mark Reynolds has showed a little more life and the Memphis duo of Xavier Scruggs and Dan Johnson provided little pop. Adams, if healthy, could charge this lineup up at a weak spot.

Matt Holliday

Lineup stability! When Holliday goes into the lineup, he offers stability in a number of ways. He is also an on base machine who takes a good bat, stings line drives and is clutch. Holliday’s versatile hitting attack and veteran presence would be a big boost. He could back in mid the 2nd or 3rd week of September.

Jon Jay

Versatility! When healthy, Jay offers Mike Matheny a number of things, including starting all three outfield spots, on base percentage and a steady diet of hits. Jay’s wrist has deflated all of his tools in 2015, so if he is healthy, Jay can ignite this team up and down the order. Keep in mind his career stats, including a .289 batting average and .356 on base percentage. With Jay and Holliday, you get ON BASE beasts. Jay could be extending his activities more this week.

Randal Grichuk

Stand by! He’s on shut down mode right now with elbow soreness and swelling. He can’t do much until the swelling goes away so while it’s only a 15 days disabled list stint listed, I see Grichuk needing more time. Elbow’s are tricky. He could be a mid September lineup guy.

Adam Wainwright

Health concerns abound here! As I noted in a column this week, expecting Waino back this year is a little foolish. He simply doesn’t have the time to get ready. He needs major league starts. He is recovering from a tricky injury, with the Achilles heel. Why rush that when deciding who doesn’t make a playoff start of your current 5 is hard enough? Cancel Waino out for 2015.

Jordan Walden

Unlikely! With the acquisitions of Steve Cischek and Jonathan Broxton, General Manager John Mozeliak was sounding the alarm that Walden and Matt Belisle were not coming back anytime soon. I would be surprised if I saw Walden on a postseason roster much less in September. He’s not throwing right now. See him in 2016.

 

That’s it. The Cards start play in San Diego Friday night with a 77-43 record, the best in baseball. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any leaks in the tank. Returning Cardinals could play a huge role these last 6 weeks.