Tonight is the non-tender deadline for the Rays and their six arbitration-eligible players. So it might be a good time to say your good-byes to Jonny Gomes, as 2009 has a very good chance of being less Jonny-terrific.

Willy Aybar, Dioner Navarro, Jason Bartlett and Grant Balfour will certainly be offered arbitration. Gomes is a good candidate to be non-tendered and Gabe Gross is on the cusp.

If the Rays offer Gross arbitration it might be an indication that they want to have the option of sending Matt Joyce to the minors to open the season. If Gross is not offered arbitration, Joyce will almost certainly be on the opening day roster.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Good news for the Rays. The first corner outfielder/DH signed. Raul Ibanez signed with the Phillies for three years/$30 million. With the deal also costing the Phillies a first round draft pick (Type A free agent) we can expect most of the remaining corner outfielder/DHs to come in under that mark. [MLB Trade Rumors]
  • Matt Joyce, who is currently playing in Mexico and is from the Tampa area, called the trade to the Rays “a dream come true.” [St. Pete Times]
  • Joe Maddon spoke highly of Matt Joyce the person and the ball player. [Tampa Tribune]

“I like the thunder in his bat, I like the effort with which he played,” said Manager Joe Maddon. “He’s a very good outfielder, he throws well and he’s young. He’s the kind of guy I think, as he learns more about himself at the plate, is going to be a very productive offensive player, too.”…Maddon added that several baseball people had approached him since the trade was made to tell him how much they thought of Joyce as a person, and Friedman heard the same thing.

  • FanGraphs breaks down the Edwin Jackson/Matt Joyce trade noting that Joyce is the better player right now and will likely get better. They compare Joyce to Jayson Werth and note that Joyce teamed with Carl Crawford and BJ Upton is easily the best defensive outfield in baseball. [Fangraphs]
  • Keith Law’s take is not quite as uplifting, saying Matt Joyce is best suited to be part of a right field platoon. [ESPN]
  • Drays Bay shows that Matt Joyce compares favorably to Carl Crawford both defensively and against lefties and wonders why anybody would want to platoon Joyce…First off, they might be right and we are not sure Joyce isn’t an everyday player (we hope he is). While they have to use Joyce’s minor league splits, it is just silly to think that those numbers will translate perfectly to the major leagues. If Joyce is already near the bottom of the list in OPS against lefties with just his minor league numbers, is it too much of a stretch to worry that it might actually regress a little (or a lot) in the majors? And while Joyce’s minor league OPS versus lefties (.721) is greater than Carl Crawford’s major league OPS versus lefties (.695), three of the four seasons were actually worse. In fact, in 2008 at triple-A, Joyce posted an OPS of .656 versus lefties. It was only 46 at bats, but it was a crappy 46 at bats (1 HR, .308 OBP, 18.2% fly balls). And let’s say Joyce does maintain his OPS versus lefties. A starting outfield with Joyce and Crawford both playing positions that we should expect offensive production from, would be atrocious against left-handers. [Drays Bay]
  • John Romano says the Matt Joyce at worst, is a younger, cheaper Gabe Gross. [St. Pete Times]
  • Originally Matt Joyce was to be dealt to Seattle for JJ Putz. With Putz now a Met, that leaves the Tigers without a closer. Might Joyce have been traded for a closer after all? Might Edwin Jackson close for the Tiggers? [The Flint Journal]
  • The “Rays Digest Podcast” will be back today with another installment as Tyler Hissey recaps the Winter Meetings. [Rays Digest]
  • Pearls of Wisdom has gone to all stops to make sure Jonny Gomes is not tendered a contract tonight. [Pearls of Wisdom]
  • Peter Abraham is reporting that Jason Giambi is open to returning to the Yankees for less years and less dollars. This is contrary to previous reports that said Giambi preferred to play on the west coast. [The LoHud Yankees Blog]
  • David Chalk of Bugs and Cranks welcomes Matt Joyce to Devil Ray Town and hopes this means Jason Giambi is not to be a Ray. [Bugs and Cranks]
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13 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    Prof, I'm getting really worried about our lineup against lefties. We had trouble this past year against them, and it doesn't seem like Joyce helps at all.

    I don't want to get down on the team, but if we add a DH who is good on lefties will that be enough to help the team out? I'm not confident.

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  2. The Professor says:

    i think this is why we might see Joyce platoon this first year with maybe Zobrist or Aybar hitting against lefties.

    but you are right. it is a concern right now.

    I am willing to bet the Rays are now more willing to offer more money to Milton Bradley (a witch-hitter) than somebody like Giambi (yet another lefty)

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  3. Robert Rittner says:

    I think the concern over lefties is overemphasized.

    First, the Rays may be the only AL East team with more than one lefty in the rotation, and except for Sabathia and Lester the lefties are mid-back of the rotation.

    Second, it is entirely possible that the problems in 2008 are not a symptom of fundamental problems. We have 3 positions (1B, 2B, LF) manned exclusively by lefties. Iwamura has a better line against lefties than righties in his career and while both Pena and Crawford are significantly worse against lefties, neither is helpless.

    Third, our two best hitters are righties. (Upton and Longoria) Longoria was terrible against lefties early in the year which seems more fluky than real while Upton was hindered all year by his shoulder problem and ought to rebound as well. Of our three major power threats, these two are right handed.

    Fourth, both Navarro and Aybar have hit better against lefties in their careers. Perez also seems to be far better as a right handed batter. And while there is a serious question whether Joyce will be poor against lefties, it is not definite. And if he is, there are likely inexpensive platoon partners, including Perez, to offset that problem.

    I think we have to be careful not to overreact to what may be a 1 year phenomenon. Plus, some of the lefties being discussed (like Giambi) have excellent records against lefties.

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  4. The Professor says:

    i agree and i am not too worried.

    while i am not sure how it will shake out in 2008, the Rays faced a left-handed starter 49 times (30.2%) in 2008. Nothing to scoff at.

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  5. Justin says:

    Robert, I understand what you are saying, and in theory it's nice. But we didn't deliver last year.

    I'm not sure if we can pin down the causality of the situation.

    Is the hitting coach inadvertently making our hitters worse at hitting lefties? Possible, but not probable.

    Was it just a one year streak? Maybe, but if we are actually analyzing this problem, we might as well call it magic. In calling it a "streak" we add nothing to the discussion of the problem, and therefore cannot help solve the problem.

    All we do know is that the Rays hit terrible against lefties last year, and I suspect we would have had a better showing inthe world series had we been better(how many lefties did they have?).

    My point: I don't like the idea that we are likely to have only one or two players in our lineup that are effective against lefties.

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  6. Justin says:

    Maybe terrible was too strong there...

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  7. stunna says:

    Nooooo!!! A Rays team without Jonny? Say it isn't so!

    I knew this day would come, but I still don't like it one bit. Jonny is the man. Let's keep him and ditch Gross

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  8. Ryan says:

    "While they have to use Joyce's minor league splits, it is just silly to think that those numbers will translate perfectly to the major leagues. If Joyce is already near the bottom of the list in OPS against lefties with just his minor league numbers, is it too much of a stretch to worry that it might actually regress a little (or a lot) in the majors?"

    Why is that?

    Carl Crawford's minor league OPS was .734. His MLB OPS is .775. He has progressed both against LHP and RHP since coming up. Most players that exhibit normal growth in the minors tend to have the same growth into the majors. Why is it silly to think that Joyce's minor-league numbers would indicate that he will be fine against lefties in the bigs. In fact, Joyce's minors line OPS against LHP (.721) is very close to CC's minor league OPS. It seems "silly" to me to dismiss his numbers in the minors.

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  9. The Professor says:

    i never said dismiss the numbers. i just said you can't assume they will stay the same.

    for every player that shows an improvement at the major league level (in any split), i will show you 500 players that regressed. Sean Burroughs was an 831 OPS player in the minors, 698 in the majors. i am not going to bother looking up his splits, but i am betting one or both regressed in the majors.

    again. i *think* Joyce is an everyday player. but we can't just lump his minor league numbers in with a bunch of major leaguers and say "hey! this is what he will be"

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  10. Ryan says:

    No one said to just take them as they are. The point seemed to be that they indicate that he should be fine in the bigs.

    Most players that are talented and aren't "old" for a level (like Joyce) tend to replicate or build on their minor-league numbers. This is a tricky issue because determing inf someone is "old" or talented is tricky, but Joyce never repeated a level and seemingly got better at each stop.

    The point is he doesn't scream "platoon player" more than any other lefty does. Last year the average left-handed hitter posted a .699 against LHP and .777 against RHP.

    His splits don't seem to be any worse than most lefties, but it seems he's been labeled one regardless. I for one would welcome a short stint at AAA for him to start the year.

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  11. The Professor says:

    that's fair. at this stage of his career, i would rather see 3 months at AAA playing everyday, rather than platooning at the big league level. if he starts platooning now, it will be tough to buck that label.

    my only point is that there is reason to at least be concerned about his splits against lefties. he could very well play everyday and smoke lefties. and i hope he does. but there is a bit of a red flag.

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  12. Ryan says:

    that's fair. at this stage of his career, i would rather see 3 months at AAA playing everyday, rather than platooning at the big league level.

    Couldn't agree more. I want him playing everyday somewhere (maybe a day off against Sabathia- ughh) because we have the guy for 6 years. WHy MAKE him a platoon player unless he's forced to be.

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  13. Robert Rittner says:

    Ryan, I don't think it is either theoretical nor is it a streak. Rather, it was a confluence of events (injury to Upton, Longoria's early season problems, Navarro going against his own history) that led to some trouble against lefties, and even with that the Rays ended up with a better than .500 record (25-24) against them. That indicates not that they were bad against lefties, only that they were excellent against righties.

    There is no getting around that, relatively speaking, lefties troubled the Rays last year. One of them was Purcey who was pretty awful against everyone except us. (He pitched two gems against us and one against Detroit and otherwise was generally bad. Note: Detroit was 42-66 vs RH and 26-22 vs LH.) But the trouble was neither outrageous nor is it clear that it was due to something fundamentally amiss with the Rays.

    I would like to acquire someone who mashes lefties, but if the Rays can get a good deal on an impact LH hitter, that would be better than settling for a lesser hitter who happens to be RH. And it might actually be preferable to have a second lefty power hitter to complement Pena than a third righty power hitter.

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