…I’m not sad he’s gone.
The Cardinals shipped Jay to the San Diego Padres for Jedd Gyorko and cash. It was a necessary move, even if an unpopular one for some.
I like Jon Jay. He made some great catches, scored some big runs, and occasionally has awesome hair. He remains one of the faces of that glorious 2011 World Series run. But I get why it was time to move him. The minuses–terrible arm, not very good speed, no power at the plate, recovering from injury, in his walk year, wrong side of 30–simply outweigh the pluses. And if the Cardinals do absolutely nothing else this offseason, he would still only be the fifth best outfielder on the roster behind Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Holliday, and Tommy Pham.
That’s an important point to remember: a LOT of things would have to break his way for Jon Jay to be a starter on the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals. In San Diego, he has a much better shot at more playing time; he may even be their Opening Day leadoff hitter. But the chances of that happening wearing the Birds on the Bat fell somewhere between slim and none. Jay is an OK fielder with a rag arm and a wet newspaper bat. It’s unfortunate, especially since he was injured for a large part of 2015. But even if he played to his averages–.287/.354/.384, 6 HR, 50-ish RBI, 104 OPS+–who sits while he plays? Holliday? Grichuk? Piscotty?
This move is part of a grand overhaul of the bench–which the Cardinals sorely needed–that began in the middle of the 2015 season with the acquisition of Brandon Moss. They may have had solid defensive replacements in Peter Bourjos, Pete Kozma, Tony Cruz, and even Jay to an extent. But they’re likely to get more offense from Moss, Gyorko, Pham, and Brayan Pena.
At least that’s the hope. In Gyorko, the Cards get a middle infielder with some pop at the plate. He’s not a world-beater offensively OR defensively, but he’s got some upside the recent alternatives simply didn’t. And the Cardinals had to find someone who could spell Jhonny Peralta and platoon with Kolten Wong, which could help both have better seasons in 2016.
And stay tuned for more. With the loss of Lance Lynn for the season to go with the injury question marks already surrounding the rest of the rotation, they will still look for a starting pitcher. Maybe a trade completely upends things on what projects to be the Opening Day starting lineup. Maybe they still re-sign Jason Heyward and shuffle the deck at first base even more. But I certainly don’t think this trade is the only thing John Mozeliak does to the roster this offseason.
Bottom line: the Cardinals needed more power from their bench, and Jon Jay was the odd man out. I sincerely hope he fully recovers from his injury and has a great year as a starting outfielder in San Diego. At the very least, he needs to be healthy in mid-July when the Padres visit Busch Stadium so he can collect his requisite Sea of Red standing ovation.