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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