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Jaso, Meh, I Guess That Works.

That thing that sucks about living in Africa is that I’m on a completely different sleep schedule than the rest of America. I go to bed just as things start getting dialed up and into working motion and I wake up and get into work just as everyone is getting ready for their own bed and closing down shop for the night.

So when I get to work and I check all the news stories I get to be the last of the bunch to write about the Josh Lueke-John Jaso trade. I get that for the most part everyone appreciates and/or likes the trade. We used a piece of our depth and got a league average hitter that can play a premium position. Not only that but he comes in rather cheap too. There isn’t much not to like about this trade.

The thing is I’m going to go all Buzzkill Brita on this thing because I have some minor qualms associated with this deal that I haven’t seen many people bring up. So if you are rather up beat about this and positive… you might not want to read everything below. Because my normal upbeat, positive disposition is kind of missing here.

First of all let’s talk about Josh Lueke. I’ve become a fan of Lueke’s over the last year. I appreciate his exceedingly positive attitude and his tweets. He and I share a similar faith and because of that I root for him. But it’s for more than that reason that I root for him, I root for him because he is trying to grow past a horrible mistake.

We all have become exceedingly aware of the dark details of his past and I don’t really care to focus on it or talk about it any longer and I’m certainly aware there is a victum of the transgressions that should be recognized through all of this. However, I would rather talk about admiring the guy who despite his struggles has shown perseverance and dedication to his craft despite all the hard hitting media articles on him since joining the organization 16 months ago.

Overall I’m sad to see him go on a personal level. Of course you’ll always hear baseball is a business and I certainly appreciate that aspect of the game that I love and it’s also for that reason that I’m disappointed that we traded him.

As was pointed out by Jeff Sullivan, Lueke had somewhat of a weird season. He started of slow and then came along nicely much like something of a steam engine. He finished the season with an ERA of 6.00 but a SIERA/xFIP of 3.58/3.79. Bill James and his projection system really likes Lueke and projects him for ERA/FIP of 2.70/2.62 over 50 innings.

This isn’t hard to fathom as Lueke has some great stuff and has the ceiling of being a closer. The thing is, and this is what most people will point out and really are right on the nose, Lueke is more likely to be destined to become an 8th inning set-up man. There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s hard to tell whether or not Lueke is really going to grow up to his talent level.

But even looking at it in that capacity you are still looking at what he might become versus is what he is now. Right now he’s an okay reliever that can pitch in the 7th inning for a really good team like the Rays and has the potential to become better than that.  That’s what we traded.

What we got in return, from my perspective, is a poor man’s Ryan Hanigan. Everyone and their brother around the league has talked about acquiring Hanigan from the Red’s simply because of their over stocked supply of catching talent and he isn’t a huge talent with old school marketable skills, but defensively he is very capable behind the plate and as a hitter he has an above average approach making consistent contact and drives the ball surprisingly well despite an the absence of real power.

Jaso is much the same hitter. He gets on base by working the count extremely well, makes consistent contact and shows a bit of gap power though he’s not likely to hit more than 10 home runs in a season.

Overall he’s a league average hitter at premium position and really is most likely an above average hitting catcher. That’s certainly not a bad thing. What is a bad thing is he’s also one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball.

See this is my issue with the trade. We all know we are getting someone that is most likely going to offensively improve the offense and could potentially add somewhere between 1-2 WAR a season, who knows he hits an amazing stride and his BABIP goes up he could even float into the 3 WAR zone. My issue is that the same potential could have been achieved by signing someone like Kelly Shoppach or maybe even a Ramon Hernandez without giving up Lueke.

Sure, neither individual are offensive threats and I get that’s the tall order of business for the front office this off-season. But, here is the thing the differences between Shoppach and Jaso over a season defensively are about 10 runs or a full win.

I’m not of course behind the scenes (duh). Maybe the think tank that has become the Mariners front office discussed Shoppach at length and ended up with the belief that he’s just too much of a risk offensively to take on at this time with this team. Maybe they think that Jaso isn’t that poor of a defender.

Whatever their reasoning on why they went with Jaso over someone like Shoppach, I don’t hate the trade. I’m excited that the Mariners now have about four hitters that I don’t think are awful (five, if you count Casper Wells. I’m still on the worried side of the fence with the whole dizzy spells thing) and that excites me. Things that don’t excite me having to put up with another year with a poor receive catching two (if not three or four) outstanding pitchers and seeing walks and singles turn into doubles due to passed balls and an inability to throw out runners on the base paths.

Jaso is absolutely a step in the right direction and is the better of the three options between him, and the current team catchers Adam Moore and Miguel Olivo.

The biggest question that is now spawned is how Eric Wedge will work out playing time. You know that Olivo is going to “expect” his share of at bats and with him being there “first” my personal opinion is that Moore is going to end up being the odd man out.

Overall you’d think in general I’d be relatively elated that the Mariners finally did something to upgrade a position that I’ve been writing about for the better part of the last couple of months. Especially when he’s so much better offensively than what we’ve had here for the past 2-3 years.

I guess we’ll just have to see how it all plays out, I’m sure I’ll be won over in time.

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Tags: John Jaso Josh Lueke

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