Jayson Stark says the Phillies have shown interest in Cardinals lefty-hitting outfielder Jon Jay with hopes of adding depth to the roster.
Jay, who turned 26 yesterday, hit .300/.359/.422 with four homers in 323 plate appearances as a rookie last season, posting a .791 OPS against right-handed pitching. Blocked by Colby Rasmus, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, he's expected to become the Cards' fourth or fifth outfielder, having played every outfield position a season ago. Baseball Prospectus calls him "an incomplete player who isn’t quite rangy enough for center or quite powerful enough to start in a corner.”
Beerleaguer: I totally get this. Stark says "insurance for Victorino," which makes a lot of sense, but there's more to the story. He's an affordable, controllable body who's ready for the majors as the Phillies prepare for life beyond Raul Ibanez. By now, the team must think they can get something useful out of Ben Francisco or John Mayberry or both against lefties at the very minimum. Make this move and Francisco and Mayberry will never need to see a nasty hook from a right-hander if the Phils can help it. Meanwhile, the Phils can truely take their time with Domonic Brown, who they'd rather see assume a full-time role or nothing at all. Add Jay, and the Phils can eye Ibanez's 2012 exodus as Brown's estimated time of arrival, when they will hopefully hand him the car keys to left field entirely.
Jay doesn't have Brown's ceiling, but he has several projectable assets to suggest the Phils could do worse than having him start a few games against right-handed pitching, or fill in for Victorino during his inevitable 15-day trip to the repair shop. In other words, he would become the '11 version of '09-'10 Francisco. I actually like that he's a lefty bat. Imagine an all-righty Sunday lineup, plus Ryan Howard and a healthy Chase Utley, against, say, J.A. Happ, with Mayberry and Francisco staring down a true fastball for a couple of turns, and when the Astros turn it over the 'pen, the Phils are locked and loaded with a couple of lefty options in Ibanez, Jay and Ross Gload.
This revelation doesn't do much for Delwyn Young's stock. On paper, Young's versatility plays favorably, but when the wheels meet the road, I don't get a sense - from having listened to the telecasts - that Young can be trusted to play the game at a high enough level. Jay reportedly does the little stuff well.