John Jaso is Free

You’ve seen the news no doubt. The Mariners made, in language that I would use with my three year old when he smears macaroni and cheese goo all over my wool work pants, “a bad choice.” They jettisoned John Jaso and brought in Ryan Langerhans Mike Michael Morse. The fantasy impact has already been documented in these Rotographing pages. But I’d like to expand a little on Jaso.

First of all, the title has two meanings. One real, one fake (but alas, real to us nerds). It’s not breaking news to tell you that John Jaso was unappreciated in Seattle. He’s now going to a place where, if you believe the lip service, he’s going to be appreciated. One would have to assume that appreciation, coupled with expected on-field performance, will result in playing time. So John Jaso is freed from the Eric Wedge shackles, and chances are he’s just barely north of free in your fantasy leagues. For these two reasons, you should sit up a little more straight in your chair and push your glasses up off the end of your nose.

The Oakland Athletics love them a platoon. They love ‘em like Doctor Heinz Doofenshmirtz loves him some mischief. Chris Carter, Brandon Moss, Cliff Pennington, Adam Rosales, Derek Norris, George Kottaras, Seth Smith, Jonny Gomes, I think there were more… but the A’s used the platoon, shall I say, to their advantage (ugh). I don’t know many that expect this philosophy to change unless maybe The Donald buys them and moves them to New Jersey with a new payroll.

With all that love for the platoon, and with all that $3,675,000 U.S. dollars that they just invested in Seth Smith, I have to doubt they’re going to use Jaso at DH over Smith much, if at all. It could very well be that Smith sees more time in the outfield to free up Jaso in a DH role, but at last check, the A’s had about twenty seven outfield options and just two catchers. And speaking of catchers, the A’s backstops hit a collective .206/.264/.329 in 2012, and in dumping Kurt Suzuki, it might be that Billy Beane and company just don’t wrap a ton of value around catcher defense. The Jaso acquisition certainly contributes to that. Jaso is going to catch, and methinks he’s going to catch a lot. Thus, count me among perhaps the few who thinks John Jaso might fall into 450 plate appearances.

And if you’re still with me, if Jaso gets 450 PA’s, you have yourself a pretty useful #2 catcher in mixed leagues, and an extremely useful catcher if you’re doing the AL-only thingy. It will somewhat depend on where he hits in the order — I could see him hitting 2nd or 7th in their lineup — but Jaso should be a good candidate to hit somewhere in the .270/.370/.390 range and even if you see regression ahead in his 14% HR/FB, he ought to give you 10 home runs. Hitting 2nd would obviously mean more runs/fewer RBI and hitting 6th or 7th means the inverse, but at a minimum, the question about playing time is significantly reduced.

My rough bet is Jaso won’t cost you much more than $4 bucks at auction and currently, he’s going 273rd over at Mock Draft Central, behind his battery mate Derek Norris, who might get “Jaso’d” in Oakland now, and a cast of other characters unlikely to see much playing time.

John Jaso is not a world beater. He’s not going to go to the Hall of Fame (will anyone anymore?). He won’t be the key to your success. But Jaso could certainly be a key to your strategy because coming up with catching options that don’t wreck your batting average and manage to avoid being a black hole in counting stats are few and far between.

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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

17 Responses to “John Jaso is Free”

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  1. PL says:

    No way no how Jaso gets 450 PAs. You are severely underestimating how much Melvin is obsessed with platoons.

    I am so frustrated that Seth Smith is still on this team. He isn’t a better outfielder than Cespedes, Reddick, Young or Crisp, and he’s not a better DH than Carter. Smith needs to be traded immediately.

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    • Michael Barr says:

      Seth Smith got 441 plate appearances and he missed almost three weeks due to injury. If Jaso goes straight platoon, perhaps not 450, but my bet is he’s going to see some occasional at-bats vs LHP.

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    • West Coast Hard Baller says:

      Did you read the part about “platooning” and how it works with Smith (hitting against righties) and Carter (hitting against lefties)?

      Jaso will start almost every game against righties as his OPS is near 900!!! If that’s 110 games, then that’s 450 PA’s right there.

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    • BX says:

      If he’s straight platooned at C he’s going to get 400+ PAs.

      Considering injury risk of well, everybody in the outfield except Smith and Reddick, Smith will see plenty of time in the field, and subsequently Jaso will get at least 30-40 PA at DH.

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  2. gnomez says:

    Well, I guess now I can once again start up the Free Steven Hill bandwagon.

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  3. reg says:

    It’s Billy Beane, not Bean.

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  4. Jay says:

    Wool pants? You may have had that coming.

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  5. gnomez says:

    Also, +1 for Doofenshmirtz song.

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  6. Strunk & White says:

    A word of advice: Please cool it with the run on, strikethrough, comma comma parenthesis italics ellipsis parenthesis sentences. It can be fun to add an in-line diversion, but overdo it and an otherwise good article approaches unreadable.

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  7. David B says:

    Unfortunately for the A’s, they have to play Jaso on the defensive end too, where he was dreadful–in only 41 games (38 starts), he allowed 27 out of 34 stolen bases, 16 wild pitches and 5 passed balls. The Mariners felt Jaso had poor mechanics and tended to lose focus when he caught back to back games. I also don’t see Jaso coming anywhere close to the career high 144 OPS+ that he put up last season. I think the Mariners did right by selling high.

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    • Stan Gable says:

      I don’t mind the deal at all either. At the very least I don’t feel that it warrants all the severe overreactions that are rather commonplace in my opinion. It’s pretty much the definition of a ‘sell high’ to me.

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