2009 Archives

40 Players in 40 Days: Jair Jurrjens

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Martin Gandy over at Talking Chop technically gets the credit for first broaching the idea of trading Jair Jurrjens this coming winter, but I've been kicking that idea around in my ol' noggin for some time myself.  Jurrjens has been a revelation this season, lowering his ERA by nearly a full run from 2008 and reaching 200 innings with no signs of the fatigue that plagued him last season.

Here's the problem, though: he's made that quantum leap without really getting better.  His strikeout rate and homer rate have actually gone backwards.  His walk rate has improved, but not significantly.  The drop in ERA is largely attributable to a 35-point drop in BABIP and a 7.6% rise in his strand rate, rather than any actual improvement by Jurrjens.

Remember also that coming into the season Jurrjens was looked at as a midrotation starter rather than a top-end stud.  I am not saying that Jurrjens isn't a hugely valuable commodity.  I can't emphasize enough that I like Jurrjens and would hate to see him go.  But at the same time, trading him now could very well be selling high considering he's performed over his head this year (his ERA is more than a run below his FIP).  And remember he's a Scott Boras client, so anyone that sees him in a Braves uni beyond the next four years is likely dreaming.

And above all, the Braves could really use a middle-of-the-order bat.  Brian McCann is a catcher and Chipper Jones is beginning to decline and his body needs rest.  A short-term patch--of the ilk that we could get by trading, say, Javier Vazque--might work, but hey, I'm sure Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman wouldn't mind having another big stick join them in the middle of the order for many years to come.  So I'm not saying you trade Jair Jurrjens.  I'm saying that if somehow you can trade Jair Jurrjens for nothing less than a young, controllable stud hitter, then maybe you think about doing that.  Kris Medlen provides plenty of rotation depth should one of the remaining five falter, and this might be a chance to get prime value for a prime piece like Jair Jurrjens.

If a trade doesn't work, then you just keep Jair and enjoy another solid year in his age-24 season (just don't expect a repeat of 2009).

The bottom line: There could be value to be gained by dealing Jair Jurrjens if Frank Wren can find the right deal, but otherwise expect Jurrjens to be Tommy Hanson's wingman for the next half-decade.


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