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Jon Jay Must Go

Fri, 20 Jun 2014 14:10:13 CDT

I would like to begin this article by saying I have no issue personally with Jon Jay. Iíve never met the man, and Iím sure heís a wonderful human being. That being said, as a fan of the Cardinals, I have a problem with the way he is being used. His playing time is a problem. Iíll admit heís putting together a nice season in 2014 thus far, but at what cost? His increasing role is actually hurting the future of the franchise. Iím sure you must think Iím crazy because the Miami product currently boasts a .303 batting average coming into today; but if you think heís the answer in center, remember the past.

Jay debuted as a Cardinal in 2010, the last time St. Louis missed the postseason. From the time he was called up until July 31, he performed so well that he caused general manager John Mozeliak to trade fan favorite and starting rightfielder Ryan Ludwick to the Padres in a three-team trade that brought Jake Westbrook to St. Louis. Before the trade, Jay was hitting an incredible .383. Obviously it looked like Jay was good enough to become the everyday right fielder. Unfortunately, his average after July 31 was a dismal .244. Chalk it up to being a rookie and not being used to the grind of a full Major League season, right?

After the conclusion of the 2010 season, Mozeliak signed Lance Berkman to a one year contract to be the new rightfielder for the Cardinals. Jay was back to being the fourth outfielder.

2011 started off well again for Jay as he hit .309 from April through July. Conflicting personalities between manager Tony LaRussa and centerfielder Colby Rasmus forced Mozeliak to make another trade before the trade deadline. Because Jay had been hitting so well, it made the trade that much easier to swallow. However, Jayís production after the trade fell off again. This time, he hit .277; a respectable average but still a sizeable drop in production. Because of the drop in average, Jay lost his starting job in centerfield to Skip Schumaker for most of the postseason. Jay did come up with some big hits throughout the playoffs, none bigger than a pinch hit single in Game 6 of the World Series; but it was beginning to look like Jayís best role was to be the first bat off the bench.

Then the Cardinals hired Mike Matheny to replace a retiring LaRussa.

Jon Jay won the starting job in centerfield for the 2012 season, and despite getting hurt, did a great job as he hit .305 and became the new leadoff hitter when Rafael Furcal went down with a season-ending elbow injury in August.

In 2013, Jay took another step back. He battled consistency all year and even tweaked his mechanics at the plate to try and solve his production woes. After the season, Mozeliak made another trade to acquire Peter Bourjos, a gold glove caliber centerfielder with upside. Though Bourjos had trouble hitting consistently in the past, he had shown flashes of brilliance throughout his young career. Even after acquiring Bourjos, Matheny refused to acknowledge that Jay was headed back to the bench.

This was the first sign of Mike Mathenyís infatuation with Jon Jay.

After beginning the season 0 for 13, Bourjos started to get into a groove, adjusting to a new league and a whole, new set of opponents. Even though Bourjos was beginning to heat up, Matheny decided to give a majority of the starts to Jay.

On May 5, Bourjos received a rare start because of a favorable matchup; and since that date, he has not disappointed. Since May 5, Bourjos has hit a very respectable .282. Add that to his fantastic defense, and heís actually putting together a very good year. Unfortunately, heís not a ďMatheny guy.Ē Jay (whose average is .278 this season as a starter) is back to getting the majority of the starts in centerfield again.

In case youíre wondering, Jayís average off the bench this season is .476.

When you put all of these factors together, the only logical conclusion to come to would be to make Bourjos the starting centerfielder and Jay the fourth outfielder. Is that going to happen? No, because Mike Matheny has an inexplicable connection to Jay and refuses to replace him.

Not only is Jay hurting Bourjosís production, heís killing the career of second baseman Kolten Wong. I wrote a previous article about Wongís numbers when batting second compared to eighth. Even though the numbers suggest Matheny should hit Wong second, he has decided to drop Wong to the eighth spot and bat Jay second.

I ask you this: what is it going to take for things to change in St. Louis? How much more of Jon Jay as the everyday center fielder must we see? Thanks for reading!

-David Jenkins


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