For those who have read this blog for the last few years, you probably know I've always been a big Jon Jay fan.
But I am increasingly impressed with the young outfielder as he gets more exposure at the major league level.
The kid has tools. He's tenacious as all get out and he's an ideal team player. He never publicly pouts when he doesn't play. And he hustles all the time. He even catches the ball with two hands! Who does THAT anymore?
While it remains to see what will happen to the Cardinals if Lance Berkman and/or Matt Holliday miss an extended period of time with their injuries Wednesday night, Jay has kept the Redbirds from missing Colby Rasmus too much while he remains on the bench with an abdominal malady.
Hitting .322 for the season with three homers and 11 runs batted in, Jay is batting .412 over the last week in Rasmus' place.
Rasmus might look better on paper. But Jay looks better on the field. And he's a significantly better outfielder than Colby. I was left wondering when Jay tracked down Placido Polanco's sacrifice fly into right centerfield if Rasmus would have been able to catch the ball. Would a game tying sacrifice have been a one out RBI double instead? And then there was the Jim Edmonds-esque diving catch Jay turned in Wednesday night in left center field. It wasn't quite as spectacular as Edmonds' play in the 2004 NLCS against the Astros. But it was in the same area code...
I was shouted down for suggesting this in the past. But here I go again. With no disrespect to Rasmus and his considerable talents -- not to mention the rarity of a centerfielder who has the ability to hit 25 homers a season -- might the Cardinals be a better team if they traded Colby to fill another team need. Like maybe for a decent closer or a major league quality shortstop? I wouldn't mind terribly seeing the Redbirds add a good starting pitcher, either. At some point someone in the rotation is going to get hurt and there isn't much in Class AAA Memphis to count on. With the condition of the bullpen, it wouldn't be the worst thing to move one of the current starters out there to pitch in.
The Cardinals have lost nine games because of blown saves. They would be three or four games in front of the Reds had they converted a few more of those chances. If the Birds traded for a shortstop the defense would be immeasurably better not only at that poisition, but I imagine Ryan Theriot would be able to move to second base, a position at which he is much more capable than Skip Schumaker. If I was the manager, then I would move Schumaker back into the outfield picture, playing all three positions capably. And if Jay washed out, Schumaker could start in center.
Maybe someday Rasmus will be a clean-up hitter in the big leagues. But right now he is a complimentary player more than he is a middle of the order lynch pin. And Jay is just as capable of batting second or sixth as Colby is.