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When the Cardinals shipped off prized outfielder Colby Rasmus at last year’s trade deadline, I thought the nut jobs on the Internet message boards were going to burn down the city. They said the Cardinals gave up on Rasmus too soon and he was going to eventually haunt the Cardinals one day. These same people also couldn’t understand how the Cardinals could just turn the center field job over to a “fourth outfielder” who in their estimation, brought nothing to the table other than hitting ground balls.

That “fourth outfielder” was none other than Jon Jay. Since Jay got called up in April of 2010, he has gotten nothing but criticism from the Rasmus fan club any time he has made an error or gone into a prolonged slump. Hell, if Jay said his favorite television adoptive father was Mr. Drummond, the Rasmus butt kissers would be up in arms because he didn’t say it was George Papadopoulos. I’m a Mr. Drummond guy myself, but that’s because any guy that gives a four foot three child 82 helium balloons to hold onto and he almost floats away, doesn’t deserve to adopt.

The thing I love about Jay is his work ethic. When he is slumping, Jay will spend countless hours in the cage working on his stroke. Jay batted a combined .231 over the months of June and July after he returned from his May shoulder separation. Many people including myself said Jay was still feeling the lingering effects of the injury. Shows you what I know. That’s why I’m writing columns that 7 people read and he’s getting paid $504,000 to play for the Cardinals in front of 40,000 fans.

In the month of August, Jay is hitting .389. What’s even more impressive is that during that stretch, he’s had 11 multi hit games. As Jay goes, so do the Cardinals. Since Jay’s first career four hit game on July 22nd, the Cardinals are 19-11.

Another aspect of Jay’s game that is constantly overlooked is his defense. Whereas Rasmus would act like he would get herpes if he got anywhere near the wall, Jay will sacrifice his body in order to make a play. At least four times in the past week, Jay has run into or near the wall to make a catch. You will be lucky to see Rasmus do that four times in his CAREER. If Jay can stay healthy for an entire season, there is no doubt in my mind he will be in consideration for a Gold Glove Award. In 79 games in 2012, Jay hasn’t made an error in center field.

I think a lot of criticism of Jay stems from the fact that he’s not a power hitter. For some odd reason, many Monday morning quarterbacks think that every position player should hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs. Sorry folks, this isn’t MLB The Show for the
Playstation 3. When healthy, Jay will probably hit 10 to 15 home runs a year while driving in 50 to 60 RBIs. I will take that any day of the week. He’s a smart player to boot and does the little things that the casual fan doesn’t notice. You will never see him show up the opposition or lollygag when running out a ground ball.

The Cardinals have an interesting potential problem. Prospect Oscar Taveras, who is tearing the cover off the ball at Class AA Springfield, could possibly be the starting center fielder next season. That could spell an issue for Jay. With him being the team player he is, I could see Jay going back to the bench until Carlos Beltran’s contract expires at the end of 2013. If Taveras does in fact turn out to be the real deal, the Cardinals could move him to right field after Beltran departs and move Jay back to his starting center post. Whatever happens, the Cardinals would be insane to trade Jay to accommodate Taveras. A team needs players like Taveras to do the big things in order to win. A team also needs a player like Jay who does the little things that lead to the big things in order to win.

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