A few weeks back, the Pirates looked to have finally figured things out. After completing a four game sweep of the then first place Brewers, they were only two games out of first place prior to jetting out on their longest Western road trip of the season. Though they would rout the Colorado Rockies 13-5 in their first game of the extended trip, the team would lose Gregory Polanco to a hamstring injury for a week and a half. To take his place, Clint Hurdle decided to do what he loves to do most: platoon. And who is Clint’s favorite player to platoon this year? That’s right, old dread head himself John Jaso. Though the former catcher was at one point this season one of the clutchest players on the team (I’m not making this up), he has been not only one of the worst players on the Pirates in the last month (-0.6 WAR), but for my money’s worth the worst in all of baseball.
Prior to hitting a pitch hit single off Kevin Shackelford in the seventh inning of last night’s win over Cincinnati, Jaso had gone almost one whole month without getting a hit. His last hit came all the back on July 5th when he went 1-5 in a win over the Phillies. For the month of July, Jaso went 3-40 with 1 homer and 2 RBIs. Despite his obvious struggles, Hurdle continued to throw the player some refer to as “the man with the dirty hair” in the lineup. My issue here is, though I know Clint likes to play the matchups, that Jose Osuna should and deserves to be playing more than Jaso.
Unsurprisingly (and sad in my opinion), John Jaso has appeared in more games at each corner outfield spot than Osuna. The former Tampa Bay Ray has been in right field 32 times this season and left field 16 times while the rookie has only played right 21 times and left 14 times. Despite there being a 13 games difference between games played in the outfield, Osuna has been way more productive in his 35 appearances. Osuna is hitting .303 in right and .300 in left with a combined 3 home runs and 15 RBIs. On the flip side, Jaso has been atrocious when in left, hitting .174 though he is hitting .240 in right. His combined homers in the corner outfields equals the rookie, but he has driven in three less runs.
Obviously, Osuna’s numbers would be a lot higher (and better) if it wasn’t for Hurdle playing John Jaso like some charity case. In a season that has been full of chaos and disappointment, the play of Osuna has been a pleasant surprise that he has been able to adapt for the most part to the major league game. But let’s be honest, he should have more than 5 home runs and 24 RBIs with the flashes that he has shown this season. I didn’t realize his stats were so low until I heard Greg Brown relay them during one of the radio broadcasts this week. Down the stretch, if Hurdle has any wits left in that old noggin of his, he will play Osuna when either of the corner outfielders needs a day off. Adam Frazier is an option too, if he’s not already filling in on the infield.
But it can’t be Jaso. I am sick to my stomach every time Hurdle puts him in the lineup, especially knowing there are better places on the bench. Mark Madden, who I never want to say brought up an interesting point outside of hockey, asked a question on his radio show early this week about whether John Jaso was the worst Pirates regular ever. If this was another major league team, I would totally agree that he is the worst regular in team history, but we are talking about the Pirates here. This is the same franchise that finished under .500 for 20 plus seasons. Those 1993-2012 Pirates had plenty of scrubs to go around. If I start rattling them off I might be here all day, but a few names that come to mind are: Derek Bell, Ty Wigginton, Andy LaRoche (If you have any more names please leave them in the comments below).
I get that Jaso is going to be gone after this season and if the Pirates were going to designate him for assignment, Neal Huntington would have already made that move. But at this point, with another under .500 season looking more and more likely, getting rid of the former catcher will open up more opportunities for guys that are going to be a part of the club beyond this season, like Osuna and Frazier. At this point, I would rather see Jordan Luplow get another shot in the big leagues, or dare I say it, bring Phil Gosselin back up (typing that was painful). From what I have seen out of John Jaso over the past month, it cannot get any worse.
This team isn’t going anywhere this year (and probably not next year either). Keeping or getting rid of John Jaso will not change the course of this team the rest of the season. But, as I said above, dumping Jaso now will open up a spot on the bench for someone the Pirates have much more invested in beyond this year, unlike Jaso who is a free agent following this season. If I want to watch a mediocre player the rest of the season, I would rather it be someone who needs the at-bats to improve than a player who is not going to be here. If Huntington does part ways with Jaso, let’s hope some team is dumb enough to claim him off waivers. Teams do need bats this time of year, and if the team can get cash considerations or even a prospect for their resident hippie, they need to jump on the deal. Though Jaso did give the Pirates some great at-bats over the past two seasons, the bad outweighs the good way too much. Hopefully Neal heeds my plea, but like last week, it will fall on deaf ears.